Losing the backward tag is not going to be an easy task for Uttar Pradesh

From the ignominy of carrying the backward tag to targeting a trillion dollar economy, Uttar Pradesh has its task cut out, as the ongoing investors summit in the state capital has indicated. There is little doubt that chief minister Yogi Adityanath will need to muster all his yogic powers to achieve this task. Prime minister Narendra Modi rightly threw down the gauntlet while speaking at the meet and the chief minister accepted the challenge of competing with Maharashtra to make Uttar Pradesh the first trillion-dollar state.

That may be easier said than done given the stranglehold the bureaucracy and police have on the state’s political power structure. Unless, Yogi Adityanath is able to prove that he is his own man, the bureaucracy is bound to lead him to a world of make-believe, just like it did with his predecessors, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. The start of his ambitious journey has seen a good omen – over Rs 5 lakh crore worth of investment promises and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) have been concluded during the two-day summit. However, these investments from domestic and global companies have to be realised on the ground for the Uttar Pradesh chief minister to come good on his future plans.

Seamless road and air connectivity with landlocked Uttar Pradesh could be the starting point for Yogi Adityanath if investors are to loosen their purse strings. At least two more international airports are required to enhance regional connectivity for free movement of people. Similarly, road connectivity is yet another infrastructure issue that needs the immediate attention of the chief minister to ensure fast movement of goods and equipment into and outside the state. Unless a Delhi-Agra kind of expressway is extended up to Chitrakoot, there is no point in making exaggerated claims and setting unachievable targets.

Affordable and quality power to all was a big election promise made by the chief minister and his party, the BJP, in their bid to dislodge Akhilesh Yadav. If reports are any indication, power for domestic and industrial use has not improved substantially. It is crucial that the development of industrial corridors cannot be hastened up unless there is adequate power and water.

Uttar Pradesh has been troubled by a poor record in crime control. Therefore, it is essential that safety and security will count as a pre-requisite in ease of doing business conditions. In the perception battle, Yogi Adityanath may have made a difference in altering Uttar Pradesh’s image. Evidently, much more needs to be done. Rounding up petty criminals alone may not suffice. Large gangs operating with impunity will have to be stopped, only then will people feel the real change.

The prime minister’s announcement to set up a Rs 20,000 crore defence equipment corridor extending right up to Chitrakoot could come as a game changer for the Bundelkhand region. This major public investment will have to propel private investors into the state at least by 2022. Vibrant Gujarat has been leveraged big time by successive state governments to attract investment. Though investors’ summits in Uttar Pradesh date back to 2003, hardly did any major investment take place during Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav’s chief ministership.

If Uttar Pradesh does indeed emerge as a state that can rise from its present position to challenge Maharashtra, it will provide economic growth impetus to the entire country. And, healthy competition amongst large states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh will provide the requisite foundation for a truly incredible India. The only limiting factor could be muddling economic growth impulses in the political slugfest. If political parties rise above partisan considerations, Uttar Pradesh is bound to be on the move. And, with it, India.