Sunday, March 28, 2010

महाराष्ट्राबद्दल थोडं निगेटिव थोडं पॉसिटिव

[इंग्रजीत आहे पण म्हत्वाचे वाटले......]

A huge amount. One lakh eighty-five thousand crores just in case some of you like me are numerically challenged. That's the size of Maharashtra's debt according to the latest Economic Survey Report for 2009-10 submitted by the minister of state for finance Vijay Vadattiwar to the legislative council. 30.70 per cent of the population of the state live below the poverty line - 3.2 per cent above the national average. In fact Maharashtra ranks third (right after Bihar and UP) in terms of the total population living below the poverty line. The numbers having grown by a whopping 12 lakh in the last one year alone!

That - according to Government of India's Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation - by the way only includes those with an income of Rs 540 a month! Last time I checked even the domestic help in most Mumbai homes was making far more... another garibi-nahi-hata-sakte-toh-garibon-ko-hatao ploy by our babu-neta brigade... but that's another debate.

While prices of essential goods and commodities have gone up by a minimum of 25 per cent... in many cases they have more than doubled says the report which adds that production of rice will be reduced by 8 per cent, corn by 10 per cent, ragi by 5 per cent, and oil seeds and sugarcane by 11 per cent. If you don't find that depressing enough the annual report also says that 45,000 small scale and 845 large industries shut shop in the year 2009-10 leading to 3,50,000 workers becoming unemployed.

Now look at the infrastructure in the state. Poor rainfall has meant that the dams and reservoirs are less than half their capacity for this time of the year. This means that the not only traditionally drought-hit areas in Marathwada and Vidarbha will be worse off but also other parts of Maharashtra. What this means to power production on the already power deficit state can only be anybody's guess. Caught in the grips of its worst agrarian crisis the water and power shortage will only add to the farmers' distress. This, at a time when the state still sees three farmers on an average committing suicide!

But these facts can be accessed by anyone who looks at Economic Survey Report which for the second consecutive year calls the financial condition of the Maharashtra "critical." I am only raising this issue because of the IPL. Yes you're right the IPL.

Barely two years ago, when Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd made the highest bid for an Indian Premier League franchise (Rs 441 crore for Mumbai), many termed it as a gamble on a risky concept. The IPL sure has come a long way in a short time, with the Sahara group on Sunday bidding Rs 1,702 crore for Pune and Rendezvous Sports World forking out Rs 1,533 crore for Kochi. In fact, these two bids, worth a total of about Rs 3,235 crore, add up to more than the Rs 2,853 crore collectively paid by the existing eight franchise owners in the first auction, on January 24, 2008. Does all this sound like the people involved in buying these teams are hard pressed for money? Will a couple of crores here or there make a difference to any of them? Methinks not.

But if you go by the Maharashtra's Cong-NCP government decision to not levy entertainment tax on the IPL matches it obviously thinks so. Agreed, Rs 12 crores would not write off all of Maharashtra's finance woes but at a time when it is actually finding it difficult to find funds for welfare schemes like scholarships for poor students and food-grains for anganwadis (which provide food to children in slums and tribal pockets to save them from malnutrition) every penny, or should we say crore  counts.

The Delhi (where the Congress is in power) and Punjab governments have charged entertainment tax on IPL matches. They have maintained  it's not just a sporting event but also a commercial and entertainment venture. An argument, the Maharashtra cabinet first supported.

Sources say Ashok Chavan under pressure from the NCP as Sharad Pawar is a keen supporter of the IPL. Just how keen you can gauge from the fact that when the Sena supremo Bal Thackeray expressed his unhappiness over Australian and Pakistani cricketers coming to Mumbai and asked his sainiks to stop them Sharad Pawar dropped everything to rush to Mumbai to assuage him. As a fellow Pawar who follows his moves very closely, I don't remember when farmer suicides, rising prices or any other issue ever moved the man who wears the twin hats of Union Agriculture Minister and Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Civil Supplies into such prompt action?

Asserting there was no pressure on Maharashtra government against imposition of entertainment tax on IPL matches in the state, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had said on March 16th that the cabinet was mulling how much entertainment tax should be charged. "The cabinet is yet to decide on the quantum of tax and the final decision would be announced at an appropriate time," . Chavan had said, adding, "the matter is under consideration of the government."

He denied pressure on his government not to impose entertainment tax on IPL matches. To questions on public announcements by Finance Minister Sunil Tatkare (of the NCP) that the government had decided to waive off the entertainment tax, Chavan said the government had not levied the tax in the first place. "Where is the question of waiving it?" he asked. Yet this was something not brought up in the ensuing cabinet meeting for approval.

As a result none of the 14 matches being played in the state will get the state anything. This when Lalit Modi, IPL Commissioner himself has gone on record to say, "this issue is between the government and the franchisees. If they have to pay, they will pay."

पूर्ण येथे वाचा...! 

1 comment:

कांचन कराई said...

प्रकाशजी, मराठी ब्लॉगर्स स्नेह मेळाव्यास आपण येणार असल्याचं समजलं. ही गुगल डॉकची लिंक आहे, जेथे आपण आपले नाव नोंदवू शकता. यामुळे नेमके किती सदस्य उपस्थित रहाणार आहेत, याची आम्हाला कल्पना येईल.

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