When, three years back, 44 years old Yogi Adityanath took oath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, very few looked at his strong political resume. Five times member of Lok Sabha, being in the top quartile among MPs for participation in Parliament in question hour, debates and private member bills, having a close pulse of the people by virtue of running a janta darbar even without being a chief minister from two decades at the Gorakhnath Math and managing four dozen educational and health organizations of the Math like a super CEO, is no small feat.
But out of the hate for his saffron attire, many political pundits wrote him off, even before he took oath. With massive governance transformation in the areas of Power, PDS, Transport and Education, in last three years, Yogi Adityanath has silenced all.
Uttar Pradesh has been infamous for power-failures and complete blackouts. Today with its drive called ‘Sabko Bijli, Paryapt Bijli and Nirbadh Bijli’ (Electricity for everyone, Enough Electricity and Uninterrupted Electricity), UP is able to provide 24 Hours of electricity in District Headquarters, 20 Hours in Tehsils and 18 hours in villages. The hanging wires that once entangled ‘UP ke Ladke’ Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi in 2017 election campaigning, are finally going underground.
30 critical projects in 24 districts of Uttar Pradesh have been taken up by the Yogi government that focuses on making these wires go underground. 22 projects in 19 districts have already been completed in the last three years. The 1.2 Lakh hamlets of Uttar Pradesh that were un-electrified since independence, have been electrified in the last three years. 1.24 crore new household connections have been given in Uttar Pradesh, under schemes such as Prime Minister’s Saubhagya Yojna and that has resulted in 53% increase in the electricity demand in UP.
The production capacity of UP has been increased by 5323 MW in the last three years – 1890MW in thermal, 138MW in Hydro, 1350MW in solar and 1945MW in non-solar, to cater to this increased demand of electricity. As a popular move, the past governments have been soft in recovery of electricity dues but the Yogi Government has started to solve this challenge through smart prepaid meters. The installation process for the 9 lac pre-paid meters out of the target of 40 lac pre-paid meters by 2022, has already been completed.
In order to set an example for politicians and bureaucrats to pay their electricity dues on time, Srikant Sharma, the Power Minister of UP got the pre-paid smart meter installed in his own official residence. On the contrary, Akhilesh Yadav’s close aide Azam Khan is facing charges of power theft.
Yogi Government has brought massive revolution in ration distribution in the state. UP’s ration distribution system was marred by the existence of ineligible and ghost beneficiaries, siphoning of food grains during transportation, irregularity in quantity of food grain distributed by the ration shop owners and untimely arrival of food grains. Yogi government did Aadhar seeding of 3.5 Crore ration cards with 14.38 crore ration beneficiaries of Uttar Pradesh in last three years.
The government also provided ePOS machines to all the 80,000 ration shops. As a result, 97% of all ration shop transactions in UP are happening through Aadhar-enabled biometric validation. In the process, 25 Lakhs ghost ration cards have been identified and more than 1200 crores have been saved by the state.
All the food supply vehicles are GPS enabled now and are tracked on a vehicle tracking system. One can track the supply and distribution of food grains till the last ration shop and to the beneficiary even in the remotest village of Bundelkhand, sitting in Lucknow through data-based dashboards.
One of the major success stories of the Yogi Government has been in transport. The state-run transport corporations across India are quite known for making huge losses. As per the Ministry of Road Transport’s Annual Report 2018-19, 55 State run Transport Units have reported a combined loss of more than Rs 14,000 crore in the financial year 2016-17. Even the best of the State Transport Corporations, like Telangana State Transport Corporation (TSRTC), and Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) have also been under huge losses. Until March 2017, when Yogi took oath as CM of Uttar Pradesh, even the Uttar Pradesh State Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) was also not in a great shape. But, in the year 2017-18 UPSRTC clocked a record of 123cr as profit and in the current financial year 2019-2020, by January itself UPSRTC has touched a profit of 83 crores.
It was achieved with the expansion of Uttar Pradesh’s transport services to new routes, exploiting technology to the maximum, cracking down on unsafe and unauthorized private bus services, saving on expenditure, tapping effectively on non-fare revenue and providing quality experience to the passengers. With the use of Sarathi and Vahan platforms of the central government, the driving license application process and the new vehicle registration process is completely online in Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh. The state has started installing sensor-based Automated Driving Testing Tracks (ADTT) in order to avoid manual processes and hence scope of corruption in issuance of the driving license. Kanpur and Bareilly have already got functional automated tracks and the work is in progress for 20 more tracks for other cities.
Educationists should certainly watch out for Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh when it comes to primary education. Development in domains like education tend to show slow results but with the conclusion of Yogi’s term in 2022, the other states would have a benchmark to follow in order to maintain quality learning in government schools. Merely developing School infrastructure is the primary response of governments across India, when it comes to schools. First time a Chief Minister and his team is talking the language of ‘learning outcomes’ in such a comprehensive manner, which is a is music to the ears of any education policy expert.
‘Mission Prerna’ started by the Yogi government ensures measurable learning outcomes for children. Under this mission, Prerna Lakhsya or grade-wise measurable learning goals are established for Hindi and Mathematics – such as word identification, reading speed, reading comprehension, number identification and basic arithmetic operations. Once the block education officers (BEOs) become confident of their students’ readiness for Prerna Lakshya, they are supposed to self-nominate the block for a third-party independent evaluation of the learning levels of the children. As the block achieves that learning level, it will be termed as the Prerak Block.
To cater to the infrastructural issues, a list of 23 basic facilities has been curated by the Yogi government. All the 1.6 lac schools of Uttar Pradesh should have these facilities under the Operation Kayakalp. There is a time-bound target set by the government for the schools to make these facilities available. By the first half of 2020, 7 of these facilities including toilets, water facility, electricity, boundary wall, school gate and additional classrooms would be made available in every school. By March 2022, all the schools would have 100% of these facilities available.
For many critics, a priest can only pray at the mutt but cannot rule a state like Uttar Pradesh. But with an iPad in one hand and Aarti ki thali in another, Yogi has proved that both can and shall exist together and proved his critics wrong.
Yogi Adityanath completes three year in office on 19th March 2020 and I sincerely hope that other states and leaders will look beyond their prejudice of Yogi’s saffron attire and learn from the massive governance initiatives of Yogi Government in different areas of statecraft.