EXPLAINED NATIONAL

Rajasthan – How the Desert Land Found a Digital Path to Prosperity

Rajasthan election

Most of us know Rajasthan as a state which is blessed with a gift of numerous monuments, havelies, and desert. With the upcoming Assembly elections in the state, we look at various issues that the current Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has on her side to showcase for seeking the re-election this time. A positive pattern can be seen emerging in the five years of the BJP Government in Rajasthan, as on one hand, the state government has been successful in realising the potential in the tourism sector and on the other hand, the current Rajasthan Government has made a huge progress in improving the water table of this water- scarce land. This area is particularly very difficult to manage considering the geographical adversity the state has.

Noticeably, in the last five years, the BJP Government has turned Rajasthan into an emerging technological hub which is providing large-scale employment opportunities to the youth of the state. The Government has also prioritized healthcare through a landmark scheme, Bhamashah Swasthya Beema Yojana. All these efforts combined with the Modi Government’s flagship programmes, like UJJWALA, Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY), MUDRA etc., have enabled Rajasthan to scale to newer heights.

This development led strategy of the Modi Government has helped Rajasthan to leverage to newer heights, which have been listed below:

Realising the Potential of Tourism

India under the Modi Government has jumped 25 places from its 2013 ranking in the ‘Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) – 2017’. The same zeal has been reflected in the BJP-ruled Rajasthan as well. It is true that Rajasthan has remained a major tourist destination since many years, the BJP Government during its tenure has taken many measures that resulted in the unprecedented growth in tourism both in terms of domestic and international tourist arrivals.

Rajasthan Tourism Department has won more than 40 awards in the last four years at various platforms. The Centre Government has rigorously helped Rajasthan to develop tourism circuits by extending intra-state air connectivity. Some of the work done during this period includes linking Jaipur to Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, fulfilling the long-standing demand of Jaipur being connected to Agra by air. The result of all such efforts is reflected in the graphs below:

To harness the potential of the tourism sector to generate employment, Rajasthan Tourism Unit Policy-2015 was developed to restore the state to its position as the ‘most favoured tourism destination’ in Asia. Subsequently, for the first time, a well thought out multi-media campaign targeting specific market segments and stakeholders was initiated. At the same time investment in the creation and development of tourism circuits, improving connectivity, enhancing cleanliness and security of tourist places has been emphasized upon. No wonder, Udaipur city is at third place among the Top 15 World’s Best Cities by Travel and Leisure-2018. It is indeed making India proud at a global level.

Water Work in the Arid State

One of the things that stand tall in the four years of the BJP rule in Rajasthan is Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan initiated in 2016, as it has made a huge difference to make villages water self-sufficient. It has resulted in the revival of 63% of hand pumps and 20% of tube wells till date. Taking note of this remarkable success, National Green Tribunal has recommended all the states to implement this programme.

In addition to this, there is a greater push from both the Centre and State BJP Government for Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) that aims to harvest the surplus water available in the southern Rajasthan Rivers and transfer to deficit basins in south-eastern Rajasthan. Drinking water and irrigation issues in 13 districts, covering 40% of the state’s population, are expected to be resolved once the project gets completed.

Massive Improvement in Farming and Allied Sector

In Rajasthan, the contribution of the Animal Husbandry Sector is more than 10% of the state’s GDP. Rajasthan, contrary to the popular belief, is a significant producer of agricultural produce – both food and cash crops. For holistic growth of agriculture, Rajasthan Agro-processing and Agri-marketing Policy, 2015 was launched.

Prominent schemes and outcomes are outlined below:

  1. Rajasthan has become a leading state in the area of Olive farming. It has become the first state to set up an Olive oil refinery.
  2. Production of wool (14321.27 in thousand Kg) in 2016-17 was more than the combined production in Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu.
  3. A new department (Gopalan) has been created and tasked with the welfare of cattle All efforts are being made for the smooth functioning of ‘Gaushalas’ in the state.
  4. Rajasthan has witnessed an exponential increase in the milk production in the last 4 year and is the second highest milk producer in the country, after Uttar Pradesh and holds 3rd rank in per capita availability of milk.
  5. The production of eggs has increased from total 10,335 lakhs in 2012-13 to 13,633 lakhs in 2016-17.
  6. The e-Mandi system has been established that helps to find out the current auction rates of their commodities for better price discovery.

Rajasthan on the path of Digitization and Ever-increasing Employment Prospects

In August 2018, India’s biggest start-up hub opened in Jaipur moving over Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Spread over 1 lakh sq ft, this techno hub is said to be India’s largest incubator centre, which will house around 700 start-ups under one roof.

This development which will boost the employment opportunities in the days to come is not a one-off instance. It is in line with the progress made by Rajasthan in the last five years, both in digital transformation, education and skill generation.

Rajasthan has pursued the digital path of administration as explained in an interview with Rajasthan’s Principal Secretary for Information Technology & Communication. Significant points that were discussed in the interview:

  • Rajasthan’s IT, electronics exports saw a 7-fold surge in 6 years.
  • The state is currently running the biggest Direct Benefit Transfer scheme in the country.
  • Ensuring service delivery to people, with more than 51,000 CSCs, or e-Mitras, thus, extending the reach of the government to practically every doorstep in Rajasthan.
  • Rajasthan is India’s first state to implement an integrated and unified e-Governance Framework.
  • Integrated direct benefits transfer platform in India – Bhamashah Yojana, which is benefitting more than 5.6 crore residents.
  • Running video conferencing until the GP level since the last one year.

This digital path and the information technology thrust is helping the youth of the state. It can be gazed by the below facts:

  • Rajasthan Skills & Livelihood Development Corporation (RSLDC) under various schemes has trained more than 3 lakh people as of November 2018.
  • Considering the employment potential of the tourism sector, RSLDC, in partnership with the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) Singapore, is creating a World Class skill centre on hospitality in ITI, Udaipur. Rajasthan has the second highest number (1,902) of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the country, after Uttar Pradesh. MNCs such as Samsung, Caterpillar, and Toyota are helping impart quality training in various ITIs.
Growing Economy of Rajasthan
  • Rajasthan has evolved into one of the preferred investment destinations in India after Maharashtra and Gujarat, because of factors such as better law and order situation, peaceful environment, excellent road, and railway infrastructure and very less population density.
  • Bhamashah Swasthya Beema Yojana provides healthcare services to more than 19.7 lakh residents.
  • Total Transmission network of electricity of the State has witnessed an increase in the last 5 years from around 28 thousand Ckt. km (circuit km) in 2012 to 36 thousand Ckt. km in 2017. Installed capacity as on December 2017 was 19,537 MW.
  • ‘State of the World’s Children’ report-2016 highlighted Rajasthan’s improved performance in integrated and elementary schooling. The proactive efforts by the government have resulted in increased enrolment in schools by approximately 17%.

The Rajasthan Investment Promotion Scheme was launched in 2014. Let us look at the performance of the state in this respect:

  • Rajasthan ranks among the top 10 states on the LEADS (Logistics Ease Across Different States) score.
  • Rajasthan is in top 10 states on Ease of Doing Business ranking.
  • State’s first oil refinery established in Barmer

Other State’s policies such as Mineral Policy, MSME Policy, Start-up Policy launched in 2015 have markedly helped to improve investment in the state.

Conclusion

Thus, in the last five years, the BJP Government both in Centre and State have steered Rajasthan to the path of prosperity, building on its potential in the tourism sector, food production, dairy industry and turning the state into a technology hub. Bringing in a positive improvement in the water table of the state is no less achievement. Various welfare programs by the State Government, in cohesion with the Centre, have covered every family one way or the other. On the other hand, the opposition Congress Party seem to have no new narrative for the state.