When the South Korean automobile major Kia Motors inked an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government last year, one of the preconditions it set was that there must be no corruption. Six months from now, the company will be rolling out its first Made-in-India car from its manufacturing facility in Anantapur. This encapsulates what the state government has been doing in the last four years to emerge as the best destination for doing business in India.
It is a paradigm shift from the previous decade when crony capitalism was the norm and senior IAS officers landed behind bars. Its adverse effects were such that when Telangana was formed, officers were reluctant to play a proactive role to get truncated Andhra back on its feet. Much of the credit for galvanising the bureaucracy and importantly, bringing in transparency, must go to CM N Chandrababu Naidu.
The challenges after division were huge. Even last fiscal, the share of industries in GSDP was 22 per cent, while that of agriculture was 34.4 per cent. The reform evidence score of 99.73 per cent and user feedback score of 86.5 per cent—introduced for the first time by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in ranking the states for ease of doing business—point at Andhra’s success in gaining investor confidence. But development is still a work in progress and Andhra has miles to go to generate jobs for its youth.
Telangana, which lost the top position by a whisker, scored 100 per cent in reform evidence score. Having inherited Hyderabad, it has been giving tough competition to Naidu, thanks in large measure to IT Minister K T Rama Rao. Its industrial policy, TS-iPASS, has attracted over `1.23 lakh crore worth investment proposals in three years. An IKEA store to be opened in Hyderabad this month, the first in the nation, is just its latest trophy. It’s an irony, albeit welcome, that Andhra is now competing with the once-neglected Telangana. Thankfully, the rancour of the past has given way to the healthy competition of the present.