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Unbridled Populism Pushes Delhi Govt On Precipice of Huge Financial Fall

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By Sidharth Mishra

This is pay time. Several online shopping marts usually make pay day offers enticing people to make big purchases in the first week of the month. However, in the Covid times the crediting of the salary has become highly irregular and private sector is not the only segment to be hit.

In Delhi the crediting of the salary of even state government employees has become a matter of court’s intervention. At least two segments – doctors and school teachers have been to the courts and managed to get relief. However, the leaders from the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have no qualms in protesting non-payment of salary by the municipal corporations.
The BJP ruled municipal corporations have been crying hoarse citing failure of the Arvind Kejriwal government to release sufficient grants to make the two end meet. The cat and mouse act between the Delhi government and the municipal corporations have been on for more than five years now which has at times led to the spewing of garbage for days together on the roads of Delhi.
However, what has got the goat the people this time around is the non-payment of salary since the month of May to the faculty and administrative staff of the 12 Delhi University colleges, which are funded by the Delhi Government. These colleges are – Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, Mahrishi Valmiki B.Ed College, Maharaja Agrasen College, Shaheed Rajguru Women’s College, Deen Dayal Upadhyay College, Indira Gandhi College of Physical Education, Bhaskaracharya College, Acharya Narendra Dev Women’s College, Keshav Mahavidyalay, Bhagini Nivedita Women’s College and Aditi Women’s Mahavidyalaya.
In addition to the salary, there has been no encashment of the medical bills, pension bills and retirement benefits. The situation has arisen following the Delhi government going almost bankrupt in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis.
Many of these colleges have over the years earned name for themselves as centres of excellence winning accolades both in the inspections carried out by the National Assessment Accreditation Council (NAAC) and the surveys done by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) of the Ministry of Education.
Unfortunately these colleges today in the absence of grants and funds from the Delhi Government are facing power and internet disconnection for the non-payment of the bills. This situation in the 12-Delhi government funded colleges has created a class diarchy within Delhi University.
The prestigious university has over 80 colleges affiliated to it. In 68-odd colleges funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the salaries and other dues are being paid on time. However, in 12 colleges funded by Delhi government, though governed by the same university statutes and ordinances, there has been no payment since May. 
The Aam Admi Party (AAP), which came to power claiming that it would open 100 new colleges in the national capital, has followed policies that has caused much decay in the system. In the past six years, it has miserably failed to regularly sanction grants for these colleges, on some pretext or the other. This time around, after funds were delayed, Education Minister Manish Sisodia levelled charges of mismanagement of funds. This was effectively rebutted by Delhi University, to which the government had no counter.
It’s said that prudent fiscal management is key to good governance. The unwarranted expenditure on publicity by raising team of ‘publicity warriors’, subsiding power and water bills, paying them from tax payer’s money, and paying disproportionate compensation amount to Corona martyrs, done to win brawny points vis-à-vis its political opponents, has led the government to the edge of the precipice.
With Centre making clear that it would delay the release of the state’s share of GST earnings, the Delhi Government, not surprisingly, could soon be seen knocking doors of the Reserve Bank of India seek loan.
(First Published in The Morning Standard: https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2020/sep/05/lacking-prudent-fiscal-management-kejriwal-led-delhi-government-now-starved-for-funds-2192590.html)  

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