What happened to all the MoUs?
Posted February 2, 2010on:
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has a boundless passion for undertaking yatras – some cynics say it is to avoid taking hard decisions on the governance. Even now he is on a yatra, called the “Madhya Pradesh Banao Yatra” (march for building Madhya Pradesh), which he launched from Amarkantak, the source of the river Narmada. Its objective has left many wondering because not long ago had Chauhan, and the entire State, celebrated with pomp and show the golden jubilee of the “building” of Madhya Pradesh. Moreover, Chauhan was already boasting about his “achievements” on the completion of his 1000 days in office.
In between the yatras, the chief minister starts planning “investors’ meets” with a view to (as he publicly claims) inviting the industrialists from India and abroad to invest in Madhya Pradesh. He is not the man to worry about the futility of such meets (in the absence of infrastructure and proper atmosphere in the State). He is happy so long as such exercises keep him, and his favourite bureaucrats, “occupied” at home and occasionally abroad at public expense, away from the drudgeries of the day-to-day problems.
Leader of Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Jamuna Devi has computed that the BJP government has signed, since 2005, as many as 21 MoUs but only two of the signatories have taken some interest in exploring the feasibilities of setting up their industries in the State. The investors’ meets, sometimes called the NRIs meet, or the global investors meet or the buyer-seller meet, have been held at different places in the State, including Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Khajuraho (the last has been the venue of several such meets). The official delegations led by the chief minister have during this period been to the US, Britain, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Sharjah and Dubai.
The practice of organising investors’ meets at home and taking bureaucrats abroad in the name of wooing industrialists was started during the Congress regime of Digvijay Singh. Then, however, it was an occasional diversion. The BJP governments have made it a major occupation. Uma Bharati was the first of the BJP chief ministers to come to power after Digvijay Singh’s Congress regime. During the brief period she was in office, she had not been able to concentrate on “industrialisation” of the State as she had found little time from her favourite issues like cow protection and medicinal uses of cow urine. “Industrialisation”, and the accompanying delectation, acquired high priority during the regimes of Babulal Gaur (who was in office for about 15 months) and Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who became chief minister towards the end of November in 2005.
When Gaur returned from Sharjah, he was bubbling with excitement. He had found that the “sharbati” brand wheat, which is grown in Madhya Pradesh, was in great demand in Sharjah and had come with the assurance that Sharjah businessmen would import wheat from Madhya Pradesh worth Rs 200 crore every year. Besides, the Sharjah industrialists had promised to set up an NRI university of the world class in Madhya Pradesh. They had also asked for land for developing a golf course in the State. He had brought back equally impressive promises from Dubai also.
Chauhan plunged into the game with greater vigour and has by now extracted promises of investments worth lakhs of crores of rupees. Three years back, for instance, his delegation spent a whole day signing MoUs with prospective investors, from India and abroad, at Khajuraho; the areas covered were power, textile, food processing, information technology, education, and bio-fuel. Later he announced that the number of the investors present at the three-day meet easily gave the idea that Madhya Pradesh was becoming a priority State for investment for the large number of Indians settled abroad. He had boasted that Madhya Pradesh would soon leave the “allegedly” investor-friendly States like Karnataka, Rajasthan, Bihar and even Gujarat far behind in the matter of investment. (The State had received proposals at the Khajuraho meet worth Rs 39, 334 crore).
Some time later MoUs worth Rs 88,018 crore were signed at Gwalior, mainly in the fields of industry, energy, food processing, information technology and higher education. Chauhan had given to Indore meet the name of global investors meet and the MoUs worth Rs 61,900 crore were signed there. Almost the same has been the story of every investors’ (or NRIs’ or buyer-sellers’) meet on which the State government has been spending huge amounts. (Who says Sheikh Chilli is a fictional character?)
when Gaur returned from Sharjah, one reason for his overexcitement was that he had met there eight persons belonging to Bairagarh, a suburb of Bhopal which formed part of Gaur’s Assembly constituency. Gaur announced promptly after return to Bhopal that he would convert Bairagarh into Paris. (Now the responsibility for turning Bairagarh into Paris has passed on to Gaur’s daughter-in-law Krishna Gaur, who has been elected mayor of Bhopal).