Bias against Bhubaneswar
A government run by the likes of Dr Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram had raised high expectations in me. However, these hopes have so far been belied. The reason why many of us support privatisation in general but oppose the NALCO divestment is that we do not trust Singh and Chidambaram to use the money raised in a way that will be fair to Orissa.
The UPA government has so far behaved in a extremely partisan manner. You need only look at Budget '06-'07, to come to this conclusion. In item 96 of the budget speech, the finance minister provides Rs 100 crore each for the universities of Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai — the first two are either in UPA states or in states ruled by an ally; the third is the FM's home state. In item 97, he provides Rs 100 crore for the Punjab Agricultural University — in the state where the PM spent his youth. In item 98, he mentions a biotech institute in Kerala, a state once ruled by an UPA government and now by an UPA ally. These items are the only ones that figure under the heading 'Institutions of Excellence', as if those in the other states are not worthy of this honorific.
This is not all. While there are goodies for the states ruled by the UPA or those of its allies, there is punishment for a non-UPA ruled state. The expenditure budget volume 2, item 73, lists two IISERs (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research) at Rs 50 crore in Pune and Kolkata — again states allied with the UPA — and earlier this year a third one has been announced for Punjab. These will be new institutions. Yet, during NDA-rule the precursors of the IISERs — then termed NISs (National Institute of Science) — were proposed for Pune, Allahabad, Chennai and Bhubaneswar. Among these, only Pune was retained.
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