The short answer is no! Chief Minister Thackeray is managing to do an admirable job of not only keeping his flock together but also managing one of the worst health crises that the state has faced. This, by someone who did not even want to be the Chief Minister.
Ahead of the 2014 Maharashtra assembly elections, a group of people from Varkari Samaj, devotees of Lord Vittal, visited Matoshree to bless Uddhav Thackeray and extend their support to his party, Shiv Sena. Addressing a gathering after the meeting, Thackeray said, “Everyone wants to be the CM and people fight for the chair. But see how fortunate I am. I do not want the crown on my head, yet people want to see me as the CM. This love has to be earned.
Handling of Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc barely three months after Thackeray took charge as Chief Minister of Maharashtra on 28 November 2019. Maharashtra – and particularly Mumbai – witnessed an exponential rise in infections and death early on in the pandemic.
Dharavi, which many had feared would become the deathbed, emerged as a model for containing the pandemic. Praising the efforts taken to contain the Covid-19 in Dharavi, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “There are many examples from around the world that have shown that even if the outbreak is very intense, it can still be brought back under control. And some of these examples are Italy, Spain and South Korea, and even in Dharavi – a densely packed area in the megacity of Mumbai – a strong focus on community engagement and the basics of testing, tracing, isolating and treating.”
State of Governance
Maharashtra has been at the forefront of using modern technology and innovative measures to make public service delivery more transparent and efficient. The state has consistently been one of the star performers in the SKOCH State of Governance. Maharashtra recorded its best performance in 2019 by securing the second spot in the SKOCH State of Governance. Maharashtra has secured its position amongst the top five four times in the last six years. This is a remarkable achievement.
However, Maharashtra slipped to the seventh position in 2020. This is a setback. SKOCH State of Governance ranking is based on an assessment of the projects submitted by the different departments and organisations of the government. The sharp drop in Maharashtra’s rank in 2020 is due to an indifferent approach by several departments.
It might be due to the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it is high time they pull up their socks to get back to the top.
The SKOCH State of Governance is the only independent study of its kind, dedicated to the state of governance in India, conducted using primary data. There are several other reports, but they mostly base their rankings on secondary data. As SKOCH ranking is based on primary data, enthusiastic participation by the departments and other government bodies is extremely important. The submission of projects for evaluation becomes the most important factor in the ranking of a state.
Maharashtra is amongst the top performers in the Women & Child Development category. With two shortlisted projects, Maharashtra secured the third position in the Women & Child Development sectoral ranking.
Maharashtra’s WCD Department in collaboration with Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal (MAVIM) has developed an e-Business platform to provide livelihood support to women. The online platform leverages lowcost technology systems for better managing the supply of agricultural and allied sector produce, to generate income opportunities through market linkages for the poor and marginalised women farmers associated with Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal.
A project called Know Your District’ has proved very useful in understanding the health and nutritional status of women and children in the state. It has helped in filling the gaps in the data value chain.
Maharashtra government presented its budget for 2021- 22 on 8th March, the day which is celebrated as International Women’s Day. Though it was symbolic, the state government sent a strong message to women in the state about keeping women’s welfare at the heart of their policy decisions.
Presenting the budget, Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar said, “To accelerate the economic development of the state, women, who constitute 48.13 percent of the population, should be actively involved. We believe that Inclusive growth of the state can be achieved only with the help of Women’s participation.”
In the state budget, Pawar has proposed an outlay of Rs 2,247 crore for executing various schemes through the WCD Department for the year 2021-22.
In addition to this, the state will receive an outlay of Rs 1,398 crore from the Union government. Thus the total proposed outlay for the WCD Department in Maharashtra stands at Rs 3,637 crore for fiscal 2021-22.
Maharashtra is amongst the most urbanised states in India. Over 45 percent of the state population lives in cities. Out of the total 11.24 crore population, 5.08 crore live in urban areas as per the 2011 Census. The proportion of the urban population in Maharashtra has increased steadily since independence. Only 28.2 percent of the state population was urban in 1961. This rose to 38.7 percent in 1991 and further to 45.2 percent in 2011, as per the Census data.
Maharashtra has consistently ranked #1 in the Municipal Governance sectoral ranking in the SKOCH State of Governance rankings. For 2020, 18 projects were shortlisted in the Municipal Governance category. Out of these, five were found to be highly impactful.
One such highly impactful project I would like to mention here is the Smart E-Bus service by the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited. Pune has become the first smart city to initiate and support the electric bus project in India. The initiative has led to a significant reduction in carbon emissions in the city and has also reduced the dependency on fossil fuels. This in turn has led to reduced expenditure and daily maintenance costs. The buses do not do noise pollution and the reduced noise has improved the overall liveability standards of the city. With air conditioning in all the buses, there is an increased level of citizen satisfaction. Additionally, the service reliability has increased.
Municipal corporations played a pivotal role in managing the challenges posed by Covid-19. The efforts of the Malegaon Municipal Corporation were exceptional and deserve a mention here. The Corporation did a commendable job in managing health services.. The Corporation ordered all private practitioners to function everyday compulsorily.
The Dhule Municipal Corporation and Integrated command Control Centre by Pune Smart City have also done commendable work worthy of recognition here. The Corporation used the Robotic Scavenger Machine (Bandicoot) to eradicate the problem of manual scavenging.
Maharashtra is amongst the most industrialised and a hub of services is one of the worst affected by the lockdowns. Services, as well as industrial activities in Maharashtra, recorded a huge slump during 2020-21. Industrial activities fell by 11.3 percent during 2020-21 while the services sector plummeted by 9 percent. However, agriculture and allied activities posted a positive growth of 11.7 percent during the year, as per the advance estimates of data released by the state government. Overall, Maharashtra’s state economy is projected to contract by 8 percent. This is almost the same contraction as projected for the Indian economy.
Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for 2020-21 is expected to be Rs 19,62,539 crore (at constant 2011-12 prices) as against Rs 21,34,065 crore for 2019-20 and Rs 20,33,314 crore for 2018-19. The size of the state economy during 2020-21 fell below the level achieved during 2018-19.
Maharashtra has the highest collection from its taxes. However, the tax revenue was hit badly due to Covid-19 induced lockdowns. The state’s total revenue receipts, excluding borrowings, are estimated to fall short of the budget estimate by Rs 57,959 crore or 17 percent for the year 2020-21. The government has set a target of Rs 3,71,319 crore receipts, excluding borrowings for the year 2021-22, which is 14 percent higher than the receipts during 2019-20.
Implementation of the 15th Finance Commission (2021-26) report will have a positive impact on Maharashtra’s revenue collection. Maharashtra’s share in the divisible pool of central taxes will increase to 2.59 percent, which is 11.7 percent higher than the 2.32 percent share during the 14th Finance Commission recommendation period of 2015-20.
Maharashtra is amongst the best performers in the progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With a composite score of 70, Maharashtra is amongst the front-runners in SDG India Index Report 2020-21 released by NITI Aayog recently. Maharashtra’s score is much higher than the all- India average composite score of 66. This indicates that Maharashtra is on the right track to meeting the SDG targets.
While Maharashtra has made substantial progress on most SDGs targets, the biggest concern remains on SDG2 that seeks to eliminate hunger. Maharashtra is placed in the Aspirant category based on the progress on SDG2 parameters. However, the state has achieved a 100 percent target in SDG7.
Potential For Top Spot
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the state is experiencing significant stress on its revenue. There is also the pressure to spend more on the health system, social security and providing support to industries for the revival of economic activities.
Maharashtra most certainly has the potential to excel in areas like Rural Development, Agriculture, Health, Social Justice, Irrigation, Water, Disaster Management etc. Proactive project submission and participation in the assessment process by all sectoral departments and government bodies can help Maharashtra acquire the numero uno position in 2021.
COVI D-19: The Mumbai Model
The Mumbai Model of Response to COVID stands ahead of all other cities. MCGM Commissioner, I S Chahal, led from the front and provided exemplary leadership. There has been a massive increase in health infrastructure preparedness under Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). Total COVID beds as on May 2020 were 29,282, which jumped to 95,667 in June 2021. Beds with oxygen went up from 2,739 to 12,177 during the same period. A COVID War Room was created which is personally monitored by Chahal and received full support from the Chief Minister. Mobilising private practitioners, proactive screening and 24*7 availability of medical staff, community kitchen were done innovatively. Tight Tracking, Testing and Treating helped Dharavi to sharply escape the onslaught of virus. Daily growth rate in Mumbai was around 8.6% in April that has reduced to 0.1% now.
Focus Areas – 2021 State of Governance
The assessment process for the SKOCH State of Governance 2021 study has commenced. The focus of the study has been reset keeping in view the required priorities of the government. States compete broadly in three areas – money, governance and development. Keeping this in view the focus areas for the year 2021 are:
- State Finances
- State Administration
- Urban Services Delivery
- Social Welfare
- Digital Economy
The sector-wise performance report of Maharashtra under Uddhav Thackeray will be released by December 2021.