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'The government is perceived with fear'

December 10, 2017 12:00 IST

'No government should be viewed as authoritarian, rather as a collective institution of people,' says Pinarayi Vijayan.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

My life story can be written on half a sheet of paper. It is the people, the party and the state I represent.

There is no turnaround story on the politics of development that belongs to me as I am from a progressive party and one of the most developed states in the country.

 

Our story is that of a developed state working towards being a hyper developed state. My government believes in keeping politics off of development and focusing on the betterment of people in every sphere.

A government that delays development stands in the way of the people's right to a better tomorrow.

We live in a time when the government is perceived with fear. No government should be viewed as authoritarian, rather as a collective institution of people.

No state can achieve fast paced development without its government being the best service provider.

I'm sure textbooks, news articles or social media platforms have told you at some point about our high standards of living, HDI, male female ratio, life expectancy rates, literacy rates, low infant and maternal mortality rates and other such indices along with our exemplary palliative care far ahead of most developed countries.

We are extremely proud of achieving them, but are not hung up on them. There is no point in repeating them here, instead I would like to tell you where we are headed.

An important aspect of governance is accountability.

This is not something to bring up only in election manifestos or while seeking votes. At the end of every day, we have to have served the people of our state and country.

A way that we have brought accountability to our work is by issuing the first annual progress reports to show that our promises weren't empty. This also helps keep people in the loop.

Our Navakerala action plan which was started a year ago has been our answer to the bottom-up approach.

Its ideology is simple, your birth should not determine your future.

For development to take place we must ensure that people are able to contribute. We are focusing on providing opportunities to those most dependent on the government. Those who access public healthcare, education and housing.

While shifting the lens onto these spheres along with waste management we want to build people up so that they can reach their potential without having to worry about their basic necessities.

The housing scheme provides every individual with a right to a house and includes those currently living in poor housing conditions.

Education standards shouldn't be reduced to be accessible. Instead we are bettering public education to be at par with international standards.

As far as healthcare goes, government hospitals are the last resort for many people and private hospitals are becoming more expensive every day. It is surprising that a sector that produced many like Florence Nightingale in the past is producing millionaires and billionaires today.

We are changing that by providing more beds, better facilities and cheaper life-saving medication. Our lifestyle disease screening which will be available to every individual of the state prevents health problems such as cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure, from taking away the future of many families.

Waste management is essential for every citizen. Without which soil, air and water quality will deplete drastically. This is why we believe in handling waste management to create a safer environment for the people of Kerala.

One area that we have not performed up to the mark in the past is water conservation. Water has become a scarce commodity. It is scary that inter-state disputes are taking place over water.

We can compete amongst our sister states, but not fight.

We are serious about water conservation and are going to adopt more preservation mechanisms in the coming years. We have started to conserve our rivers and water bodies but more investment is required in this area.

Even though it is a part of the Navakerala action plan, I would like to specifically speak about this just to emphasise its importance.

Speaking of basic necessities, I'm sure nobody here will disagree that an accident victims chances of survival should not be dependent on their bank balance. Yet it has always been this way.

To fight this inequality we introduced the special trauma care scheme. The 48 hours after an accident is called the critical period. The treatment one receives during that time determines their survival rate.

Our policy is that the victim should not be taken to the hospital based on their ability to pay the bill, but the one closest to the accident site.

The government will use insurance to pay the hospital directly. This is in line with our belief that a human life's value is not something expressed in monetary terms.

There have been many debates on whether corruption should be attacked from the bottom or the top. We believe in attacking it from both sides and crushing it.

At all levels there should be zero tolerance towards corruption. This is only possible if the government, judiciary and the media work with a much higher vigilance.

It is not just about checking corruption that has already taken place, but preventing it from happening at all.

You may think that it's easy for us to talk about corruption when we are one of the least corrupt states in the country.

For us this is not a matter of pride. The word 'least' implies that we still have corruption and our goal of being corruption-free hasn't been achieved yet.

Corruption is something that reduces efficiency, productivity and takes away from development. Without which resource mobilisation would increase tremendously.

People often let corruption and bribery demand go unreported out of fear that the corrupt flock together and protect each other.

We will put an end to this. We are going to apply modern technology, algorithms, etc. to achieve this.

Under this government, the only people who should fear are the corrupt themselves.

We have seen the numbers and percentage points of those living in poverty reduce over the years. This may help a lot of people sleep at night in peace, but not us.

Human beings aren't statistic points. Even one person left to suffer is a failure at every level.

The idea of putting growth and development into percentage over actual changes in the standard of living is an outdated idea.

We have not achieved any success until the last hungry person is fed, the last sick person treated, the last child educated and the last homeless person has shelter.

We want to make Kerala one of the most liveable place on earth.

Safety of women and children, awareness, speedy correction of all types of crimes need to be included.

Police modernisation is an integral part of that as criminals are getting more technology savvy. Governments need to out pace them.

Credibility of the police force also needs to be improved drastically. We are modernising the police force not only in terms of equipment.

We believe in bringing the best technology, awareness and most importantly humanity to the field.

Pinarayi Vijayan is the chief minister of Kerala. These are edited excerpts from a speech he delivered in Delhi last month.

Pinarayi Vijayan
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