Good economic governance; prime need for Manipur
The issue of underinvestment began with the meagre plan expenditure of Rs. 1.08 crores of 1st Five Year Plan (1951-56), followed by annual average of Rs. 2.55 crores till 4th Five Year Plan (1969-74). It was largely after the 8th Five Year Plan (1992-97) that the state economy witnessed a turn of development with total plan expenditure of Rs. 1219.78 crores. In the absence of huge investment to be made in infrastructural foundation for about 40 years, density of road was fairly low with 51 kms per 100 sq. km. of area as against 155.41 kms of Tripura and 154 kms of Pondicherry in 2011. Internally, the state was marked by poor transport and communication and externally, it was inadequately linked with the rest of the country. It is not a surprise that the economic outcome has been extremely low.
The net value added in manufacturing (1994-95) was only Rs. 3 crores as against Rs. 759 crores of Himachal Pradesh and Rs. 328 crores of Goa. While the manufacturing sector is a major source of economic strength, it contributes only 2.29% of Domestic Product; a sign of weak economic governance and haphazard policy.
It is a matter of concern that food self-sufficiency is a far cry with a shortage of 2 lakh tons of food grains in 2019-20.We are running agricultural sector with 119 Rural Agricultural Markets without a single wholesale market as against 533 Rural Agricultural Markets and 21 wholesale markets in Tripura(NEDFI). Manipur now needs productivity revolution of small farmers. Although the service sector accounts for 64% of Gross Domestic Product, most of them are in teaching and subordinate staff.
In the meantime, the population of marginal workers increased from 66,621 in 1991 to 3,30,447 in 2011. To our utter dismay, poverty increased from 28.84% of total population in 1999-2000 to 36.89% in 2011-12.
The state economy remains in the rut of jobless growth and growthless jobs. Marginal increase of State Domestic Product. From 6% in 2011-12 to 7.5% in 2018-19; - the net increase of 1.5 percent during 7 years is a sad reflection of poor performance in all sectors. As a result, as many as 8 lakh educated youths are without any job. “Manipur is the lowest ranked state in goal 8 ;- decent work and economic growth” (Manipur Vision 2030), while growth panacea of almost all problems.
It is not a surprise that the Per Capita Income of the state at current prices is only Rs. 75,226 in 2018-19 as against Rs. 4,30,081 of Goa and Rs. 1,83,108of Himachal Pradesh and to that extent Manipur has been suffering from low standard of living and deprivation of distributive justice.
On the price front Manipur is burning the two ends of the candle. Huge market imperfections and cost disability are major factors responsible for price level higher by 20% than All India Average. Joblessness accompanied by high inflation has deeper implications of acute deprivation and precarious survival of the poor. It turns out to be a fertile ground for social unrest. Economic insecurity is an age-old challenge facing the state economy. The hybrid of militant conservatism, the offshoot of hardened poverty is a new cause of concern.
The high expectation of trade dynamism of Indo-Myanmar Border Trade Agreement, 1994-95 vi-sa-visAct East Policy of India is now belied by the ugly trend of Drug Dynamism and Trade of small arms. The Act East Policy of India brings with itself the seeds of both development and destruction. The rising apprehension of Manipur of being vitiated may prove true in the absence of strong institutional safeguard and parenting. A time has definitely come for Manipur to break both political and social speed breakers.
The urban local body constitutionally elected could be a good beginning towards developing the border town, Moreh, into a lively commercial hub.
Both in terms of good governance and economic governance Manipur is so low with 23rd position in the national ranking of good governance and with one of the lowest positions of economic governance. There is an immediate need for strengthening social capital and inner capacity to set the right economic course of the state. What works in Gujarat and Maharashtra does not necessarily work in Manipur. We have to develop a home-grown development strategy.
Manipur is all set to benefit from a new development policy of Central Government specially in National Highways, Air Connectivity and Rail Connectivity; - for which the need of the hour is building of a new set of human capital and sustainable social infrastructure. It is going to be an uphill task in the state where schooling without learning has become a new challenge. Even India is fairly low with 115th in the Human Capital Index of 157 countries. We have to change both guard and gear. Manipur needs a new approach, a new culture of administration and a new technology of development.
Now we have to tackle 6 challenges namely a) shortage of professional skill, b) technology upgradation, c) connectivity, d) funding, e) marketing infrastructures. The sixth, perhaps, the most important is good economic governance. This is the weakest area in Manipur. The warning of RBI against overdrafts is not new.
The writer was a Professor of Economics, MU