June 4, 2023

New Delhi: Chhattisgarh’s chief minister Bhupesh Baghel cited his government’s track record in boosting incomes and bringing economic development to the state. Speaking at the Mint India Public Policy Summit, Baghel stated that annual incomes in his state rose about 40% to 1.33 lakh per annum in just four years.

The state government’s focus on agricultural development is a key factor behind this, according to Baghel. He stated that his government’s support to farmers through the provision of input subsidies, increased government procurement and strong food prices had made agriculture a profitable proposition for farmers. Outside of agriculture, increasing incomes across various professions and economic sections has been a key focus for Baghel, who took office as chief minister in 2018.

“There should be an increase in everyone’s income regardless of whether they are labourers, farmers, women, youth, merchants or industrialists…It shouldn’t be that only farmers and labourers get opportunities. If an industrialist wants to set up an industry in Chhattisgarh, s/he should have the appropriate environment for that,” Baghel said while describing his government’s major policy priorities.

There have also been other successes, Baghel said. The improvement in rural amenities, coupled with increased agricultural development, has led to a reverse migration in the state. While the state saw migration away from rural to urban areas, the tide has reversed with youth returning to rural areas due to an improvement in their prospects. The improvement in the state’s security situation, which has been locked in a fierce struggle with Naxalite insurgents, has also played a role in Chhattisgarh’s economic development.

“In the previous government, the policy on Naxals was a bullet for a bullet. However, the number of Naxals didn’t reduce; they increased. They were in three blocks and then spread to 14 districts. We changed that policy. We won people’s trust, then provided development and then provided security,” Baghel said.

This people-centric approach, Baghel believes, helped curtail Maoist influence in the state and change his state’s image in the national imagination. Baghel pointed to his government’s 2018 decision to return land that Tata Steel had acquired to its tribal owners. Although the acquisition had been made by Tata Steel, no industry had been set up. The state government then helped develop the returned land, in what Baghel argues is an effective example of people-centric governance.

Baghel also pointed to the state’s campaign to reduce the incidence of malaria as a successful example of effective social policy that fed into the state’s larger success.

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Updated: 26 May 2023, 11:42 PM IST

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