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HindustanTimes Sun,23 Nov 2014

White paper designed to save skins of a few

Dharmendra Jore, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, December 02, 2012
First Published: 00:39 IST(2/12/2012) | Last Updated: 00:41 IST(2/12/2012)

The white paper on irrigation stands out for different reasons when compared to some other white papers that the governments in the past have published over the past 44 years.

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Experts, civil society and the Opposition say this one smacks of an effort solely designed to save the skins of a particular set of ruling politicians.

Another accusation made is that the paper lacks a constructive future policy, and it does not offer any explanation for the corruption charges against Ajit Pawar and his sidekicks, who headed the water resources department in the coalition government since 1999.

It is not the first time that the Congress-NCP government has published a white paper.

This is the coalition's third white paper in the past 13 years, since 1999. One dealt with the energy crisis and the other analysed the financial mess that the Sena-BJP had created during their maiden rule between 1995 and 1999. The papers tried to present the policy in the right perspective. Power woes were controlled for some time, and serious efforts were made to bring the deficit economy back on track. Barring a paper on finance, those on energy and irrigation were not tabled in the legislature. Significantly, all the papers came from the NCP-led departments.

Political commentator Surendra Jondhale said the irrigation white paper was just an information bulletin.

"It has no substance that could appeal to civil society or the Opposition. It's a poor effort to save Ajit Pawar's skin. The paper does not address much-talked about issues that have landed the government in trouble."

A few years before the Congress-NCP combine came to power, the Shiv Sena-BJP had brought out a paper that later saw a full-fledged water supply and sanitation department being created.

Political historians also recall a white paper on the education sector presented by a Congressman and then education minister Madhukarrao Chaudhari in 1968.

It set an upward path for the deprived class. The minister initiated government-run public schools for rural students who are now top ranked bureaucrats and professionals.


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