A Report

APEA Annual Conference

I Satya Sundaram

The 39th Annual Conference of Andhra Pradesh Economic Association (APEA) was held at SV University, Tirupati, under the auspices of the Department of Economics, on 27th and 28th March, 2023. The Organising Secretary was Prof D Krishnamoorthy. At the Inaugural Session, President of the Conference, Prof R Sudarsana Rao, former Vice-Chancellor, Vikram Simhapuri University, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, underscored the need for maintaining fiscal balances between the Centre and the States. ‘Too much dependence of the states on the Centre is not desirable’, he added.

Prof K Jothi Sivagnam, Member, Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission, Chennai, observed that ‘Governments will be efficient, if they are close to people’. In the sphere of public expenditure, the States’ share is 2/3. But, in the sphere of revenue, the Centre’s share is 2/3. Prof Jothi highlighted the need for strengthening State finances.

Prof S Rathnakumari, Chairperson, 5th State Finance Commission, Government of Andhra Pradesh, stated that strengthening finances of local bodies was needed to successfully implement welfare programmes.

Prof D Harinarayana, former Director, School of Distance Education, Andhra University, presented the nuances of international trade. He said, ‘there are benefits of trade, but the developing countries are not getting their due share. This should be corrected’.

The Conference discussed three themes: 1. Acceleration of economic growth in India, with special reference to Andhra Pradesh. 2. Implications of National Education Policy 2020. 3. Issues in Economic Development of Rayalaseema Region.

The COVID-19 hit hard the Indian economy. The growth rate was only 4.2 percent in 2019-20. It was 8.7 percent in 2021-22. It may be around 6 percent in 2022-23. The social safety nets continue to be tenuous. There are many problems like poor infrastructure and delay in the completion of projects. Only 12 percent of population faces acute poverty. Yet, malnutrition is widespread. In the Global Hunger Index, India got a rank of 107 out of 121 countries. The failure on the employment front is not to be missed. India must accelerate economic growth by stepping up capital expenditure.

In Andhra Pradesh, around 60 percent of the workforce depends on agriculture. Yet, agriculture labourers have enough employment only in some regions. The MGNREGA is poorly implemented. However, some schemes like skill promotion and organic farming performed well. The vast natural resources are not properly utilised. Moreover, the state suffers from poor investment as it could not decide on the capital city. The social sectors like education and health remain neglected. All sectors function in a climate of uncertainty. Even the panchayats are pulverised.

Education in India suffers from poor quality at all levels. The NEP 2020 is a vision document. It is considered a game changer. It is holistic, multi-disciplinary, flexible and skill-oriented. It lays stress on early childhood care education. NEP 2020 put forward some useful proposals ---10+2+3 has been replaced by 5+3+3+4 (giving importance to pre-primary education), multi-disciplinary higher education, cluster of colleges and inviting foreign university campuses.

However, educationists are not happy with some proposals–starting schooling at the age of 3, inviting foreign university campuses when India’s own colleges and universities are facing formidable problems, and no clarification on issues relating to implementation.

The Rayalaseema is a backward region. It has been neglected by all Governments. No doubt there is an increase in food grains output, but the net area sown declined, cropping intensity remained stagnant. Industrial development is also very poor. The government must declare Rayalaseema as a backward region, invite investments and offer various incentives.

Prof K Muniratna Naidu, former member, A P State Finance Commission, observed that in a country like India, ‘inclusive growth is important, and the agriculture sector has to play a key role in achieving the goal’. Prof N V Narayana, former Professor, Department of Economics, SV University, said no government should neglect values. Neglect of values will have adverse impact on economic growth. Also, it means dis-respecting environment.

The APEA was affected by COVID-19. It wants to enlarge the membership and start a research-based journal.


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Vol 55, No. 42, April 16 - 22, 2023