Friday, April 10, 2009

Bottom-up or Top-down?

An article in Business World several years ago had 2 Chief Ministers on its cover. One was Chandrababu Naidu, then CM of Andhra Pradesh & the other was Digvijay Singh, then CM of Madhya Pradesh. Chandrababu's model for growth was top-down. Promote and seek investments in the capital city, Hyderabad. Use the proceeds from the development initiatives to spur investments through the rest of the state. Digvijay Singh followed the opposite approach. Work towards social & rural development initiatives (bottom-up) - and the growth of the state would follow. Both Chief Ministers were good at what they did & won re-elections on the platform of development.

Don't get me wrong. This does not mean that neither leader promoted one over the expense of the other. What it does mean is that when you have finite funds for development, you need to make a choice. And the sector/area where more funds are deployed ultimately determines your overall track record & governing philosophy.

My sense on the NDA was that it tried more of the top-down approach during its period in office from 1999 to 2004. And its 'India Shining' campaign ultimately fell through because the fruits of development did not quite reach the rural folk to the extent required even after 5 years. My sense on the current UPA government on the other hand, is that it has followed a policy that has been more pro-rural. We will know whether this approach has worked when results come out in a month. At this moment however, the UPA seems to be better positioned.

And here is an article on the Wall Street Journal today that dwells on this thought.

Have a great weekend.

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