‘A.P. doing well, but key issues need to be tackled’

Norwegian economist Finn Kydland (second from left) and other economists participating in the ‘Andhra Pradesh Priorities’ project, in Vijayawada.   | Photo Credit: CH_VIJAYA BHASKAR

Attaining double-digit economic growth rate by Andhra Pradesh is praiseworthy but education, nutrition, health and tackling domestic violence should be treated on top priority, an eminent panel of economists, including Nobel laureate Finn Kydland has said, while releasing a list of 77 government interventions required in various sectors.

The prioritised list shows where each rupee can do the most economic, social and environmental good for the State and “help A.P. achieve its goal of becoming India’s leading state in social development and economic growth.”

Others in the Andhra Pradesh Priorities Eminent Panel were Nisha Agarwal, former Chief Executive Officer of Oxfam India, Vinita Bali, chairperson of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, S. Mahendra Dev, Vice-Chancellor of Indira Gandhi Institute for Development Research and President of the Indian Economic Association. The study that involved cost-benefit and peer-reviewed analyses from dozens of top economists from A.P. and abroad, was facilitated by the Tata Trust and Copenhagen Consensus, a US-based think tank.

Releasing the list, Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus, said two education interventions were among the top ten priorities chosen by the panel: teaching children in groups at the right level, and computer-assisted learning (CAL). The panel emphasised use of educational software that adapts to students learning levels and pace, together with a teacher for 90 minutes a day.

“Andhra Pradesh has successfully lifted school enrolment and retention rates. To achieve its full potential, it is crucial to focus on lifting educational quality. The Andhra Pradesh Priorities Eminent Panel heard strong evidence that there are relatively cheap approaches that would lift test scores and improve life-long earnings,” said Prof. Kydland in a note released at the media briefing.

Observing that 60 % of the women were anaemic, the panel suggested provision of vitamins and nutrients during antenatal visits. At a cost of ₹88 crore annually for training health workers and distribution of supplements, more than a lakh of maternal anaemia and 1,400-plus deaths could be avoided, it said.

Role for SHGs

For tackling the high rate of intimate partner (domestic) violence, the panel suggested roping in self-help groups of women. Spending ₹142 crore by training and involving these groups in counselling will reduce domestic violence by 55 % with health and economic benefit worth ₹3000 cr, the panel said. In the health sector, the panel noted high incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and suggested screening of 70 % of 30 to 69 year olds and treating elevated blood pressure with poly pills. Such a step could avoid more than 2.6 lakh deaths over 13 years period at average treatment cost of ₹4,000.

Dr. Lomborg said Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu appreciated the panel report. Top IAS officers too were keen on taking the report forward.

At the meeting with these officers on Wednesday, Anil Punetha, Special Chief Secretary, said identification of the best value for money policies was an important step and hoped that the partnership would facilitate best policy outcomes.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 7:57:59 PM |

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