Chief Ministership of N. T. Rama Rao
This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (December 2015)
Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (popularly known as NTR) was-Telugu film actor-turned-politician who served as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for three terms. He was the first non-Congress Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, representing the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founded by him in 1982. His first term lasted 11/2 years from January 1983 to August 1984. He was ousted in a coup in August 1984, but returned to power a month later, which marked the beginning of his second term. He remained Chief Minister for the next five years, completing his full 5-year term as Chief Minister. In 1989, his party lost in the assembly elections, and it was not until 1994 that he would become Chief Minister again. His third and last term as Chief Minister only lasted nine months, from December 1994 to September 1995, following which he was ousted in a coup led by his son-in-law Nara Chandrababu Naidu.
The political priorities of NTR during all his three terms as Chief Minister were widely debated, with the right-wing parties accusing him of economic populism,the left-wing parties accusing him of diverting resources for government employee benefits and his supporters arguing that they were worthwhile investments into infrastructure, human resource development and social net programs.
- After getting elected in 1983 his first legislation was the passing of Andhra Pradesh upa lok pal (civil society OMBUDSMAN) bill inspired by Scandinavian laws. The A.P. Lokayukta Act 11 of 1983 came into force with effect on November 1, 1983  The law allows any citizen to start an investigation of any person in power (including chief minister himself) with the help of Judiciary, lawyers, community leaders and independent investigators.
- ₹2 (2.8¢ US)/kg rice for agricultural labourers with less than ₹500 (US$7.00) income per month (forty cents per day).
- Successfully modifying the Hindu-Succession-Act to give equal default property inheritance rights for women.
- Divestment of non-performing state industry to private sector such as Allwyn Motors to Mahindra & Mahindra.
- Strong states with a stronger center economic model initiated by NTR approved by the country.
- Passed Prohibition Legislation and dissolved government manufacture of cheap alcohol aimed at the mass market segment.
- Pay cheques of category 3 or lower employees can be cashed only with a spousal signature, thus creating an explicit legal right for women in their spouse's earnings. (To avoid gambling and drinking away the check before the wife sees any money.)
- Complete computerization of TDP's organisation structure and building an organisational structure village by village to form a stable second party. He built a stable coalition of non-Congress parties at the state to give a clear two-party choice for the Telugu voter.
- Overhauled the entire state's education syllabus for schools. He instituted statewide entrance examinations for all disciplines of higher education vis-à-vis Engineering and Medicine to name a few called EAMCET (Engineering and Medical Common Entrance Test). Students, based on the merit of their ranks obtained in these tests, could join any state college of their choice.
- Andhra Pradesh Residential Education Institutions Society founded in 1972 with two institutes was revamped under NTR's government in 1988 with the passing of "G.O.Ms.No.363, Education (SSE.I) Department". The institutions were founded to provide exemplary Rural and Socially disadvantaged youth with good primary education. NTR reforms to this institution expanded the number of facilities to 220, made them directly administered by Minister of Education, with a 22-member board to guide the institution. The institution especially APRJC( Andhra Pradesh Residential Junior Colleges) flourished and ended up sending five times more students to elite institutions such as IITs and BITS, making Andhra the only state that produces so many elite experts with Rural and Disadvantaged backgrounds.
- NTR created a new commando force for the state and was very successful in combating naxalism both ideologically and militarily. Communal rioting in Hyderabad had been put to rest for good during his term.
- NTR put an end to annual communal rioting in Hyderabad during Ganesh Nimmajan.
- Visakhapatnam steel plant, which had been struggling since its foundation went online during his term, in no small part, due to his active lobbying with the central government.
- He recruited worldwide medical talent and improved higher end medical capabilities of the capital city and founded a medical university in Vijayawada.
- He reformed the administration of Tirupati and converted it into a modern tourist attraction. (Computerised registration and transparent board to run financial system.)
- He did away with the feudal munusobu and karanam system to empower elected leaders of the local government. He introduced entrance exams for Vedic subjects and opened up priest positions in temples to non-Brahmins.
- He built the largest bus station in Asia at the time in Hyderabad, the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS) and commissioned the largest Buddha statue in the world at the time in Hyderabad to highlight the Buddhist heritage and history of Andhra Pradesh.
- He adorned the Tank Bund road in Hyderabad with the statues of great Telugu personalities creating a sense of heritage and pride among Telugu people.
- He guaranteed one light bulb per household to give educational opportunities to the lowest economic class of rural Andhra Pradesh.
- He reformed water distribution system from major reservoirs in the state by giving farmer organizations (raitu sangam) a say in planning.
- He started a low-income housing project and built 500,000 houses in five years to replace thatched houses. The program continued for nine more years under his successor Chandrababu Naidu and added another 1 million homes. The program continues to this day under the incumbent Kiran Kumar Reddy government.
- NTR abolished the legislative council calling it an un-productive expense to the exchequer, an un-elected un-representative body used to distribute political favors to out-of-work politicians.
- NTR introduced a mid-day-meal program for primary school children from families earning less than Rs. 500/month.
- NTR initiated the largest investment into irrigation systems in Andhra Pradesh since independence with the Telugu Ganga Project designed to turn Rayalaseema fertile and green and provide drinking water to Chennai. The Indian spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba supported and provided assistance to this project.
- NTR reduced the retirement age for government employees to 55 from 58. He used the National Security Act (NSA) to successfully crack down on the general strike called by government employee unions demanding bringing state government employees to central government employee pay levels. He used NGO (Non-Gazetted Officers) core to conduct exams on time across the state when state government teachers union called for a strike and threatened to ruin an entire academic year for the students. He furloughed the entire work force of Housing Construction Corporation a state government organization will fully pay till retirement claiming they did absolutely no work and that closing that organization would save money even if the state gave the employees free salaries. He claimed the secretariat employees got in the way of doing people's business and moved his office to a private ashram outside the city.
- He successfully audited and brought the actual implementation of local body reservations program (for women, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes) compliant with the law. Even though the law was passed 15 years before he came to office, it was never fully implemented. He successfully passed 55% reservations for backward castes in professional educational institutes but was rebuked by the High Court and was forced to withdraw the legislation.
- NTR successfully repealed the Andhra Safe Road Transport Act that nationalized private bus services saying he wanted to encourage small business allowing for private buses to compete with government road transport. He changed the mandate of government transportation to provide road service for under-served markets (villages). Every village got road service during his tenure. He was however unable to deliver on his promise to relax the 1976 Urban Land Ceiling Act and 1975 Agricultural Land Ceiling Act. He argued that the land ceiling act interfered with small local entrepreneurs but was providing case by case exemptions to the politically connected and multi-national-corporations.
- NTR founded a national political coalition of non-Congress parties called The National Front in 1989 and was elected its founding president. The National Front came to power at the centre the same year. His brain child of a highly federal party formed by a coalition of all the locally popular secular regional parties was successful and signalled the end of single-party domination at the centre.
- NTR offered subsidized electricity to peasants (farmers earning less than Rs 12000/yr) at Rs50/year for all the power used by a single pump set.
- Introduced subsidized clothing scheme for women with household incomes less than Rs500/month and procured the needed clothing from APCO (Andhra Pradesh Co-Operative society for traditional weavers).
- NTR founded the Sri Padmavati Mahila Visvavidyalayam in Tirupati with the charter of expanding primary education for women in the state.
- NTR initiated the construction and upgradation of airports in Tirupati, Vishakapatanam, Vijayawada and Warangal. He initiated the investment study for three ports in Nellore, Machilipatnam and Kakinada. He funded the construction of a rural road network, the total miles of road laid (22,000 miles) is more than half of all the state roads in existence till date.
- NTR's upgradation of the road network and air connectivity to Tirupati and his key role in the National Front Government helped him push the funding of Radar Research Center in Tirupati with the mandate to provide outer atmospheric forecasting to significantly accelerate the weather forecasting capabilities of Andhra. Its three objectives were supporting Sriharikota into accelerating the launching of education satellites for rural education, enhancing water resource planning capability to reduce wastage of river water while providing reliable agricultural water supply and enhancing rural primary education with long distance learning programs using edusat and televisions is primary schools across rural Andhra.
- NFCL (National Fertilizer corporation of India) and GFCL (Godavari Fertilizer Corporation Of India), were initiated and very rapidly went online during is first and second terms of NTR respectively. K. V. K. Raju made repeated references to NTR's support in creating a non-bureaucratic environment for the development of NFCL. Andhra's use of fertilizers went from being 71% of Indian National Average per hectare to 191% of Indian Average (which was also growing) during Mr. Rao's term. This tripling of technology use in the state's agriculture resulted in over 30% agricultural Productivity gains during his three terms. Such agricultural productivity gains were never observed since independence except during the period when Nagarjuna Sagar was commissioned.
- NTR earned a seat for the poor in Andhra Pradesh at the centre via well-thought out political decisions. NTR extended un-qualified support (cleared an MP seat and did not field a TDP candidate) to Congress leader P. V. Narasimha Rao resulting in the latter winning from the state for the first time in his long career with a record majority. While the Congress wanted Rao to be a powerless un-elected (Rajya Sabha member) yes-man of the Nehru-Gandhi family, NTR actively made sure Rao had independent power. This earned Telugu people some influence even when Congress was in power at the centre. NTR formed an alliance with MP's from Tamil Nadu claiming that his Telugu Ganga Project will give Chennai water, making the Telugu Ganga project an interstate centrally funded project. His personal rapport with Venkaiah Naidu of the BJP also helped his influence at the central level. Hence, irrespective of who was in power at the centre, NTR and TDP were very influential in making sure the poor in Andhra Pradesh had representation during his tenure.
- He was known for distinguishing Andhra Pradesh from its parent, the erstwhile Madras state, and gave it a distinct identity. Under his tenure, he shifted the Telugu film industry from Chennai to Hyderabad, giving it a distinct identity from Tamil cinema and benefiting Telugu film producers and distributors and theater owners in Andhra Pradesh.
- NTR followed in the foot steps of Kasu Brahmananda Reddy (Who passed GO 36 and resigned voluntarily to make way for P.V.Narasimha Rao – a Telanganite) and passed G.O 610 (requiring an audit and implementation of local reservations for telenganites) in December 1985 to be fully implemented by March 1986. He further fought a case against GO 610 in the high court and won!! the right for the chief minister to implement G.0 610. He followed up the court ruling with GO 674 (requiring repatriation of non-local government employees) to conform to GO 610. His support for P.V Narasimha Rao, as Prime Minister by helping him win outside Telangana as an MP were very instrumental is furthering his United Andhra Stand.
- NTR abolished Patel-Patwari system which was based on inheritance that dominated Telangana.
- NTR initiated large scale decentralization of governance and accountability with his Mandal Praja Parishads (M.P.P).The Mandal Praja Parishad as a democratically elected body at Mandal level was introduced by NTR (NTR re-coined a Mughal era term "Tehsil" or revenue district into Mandal). Tehsils which were run by bureaucrats with the sole responsibility of tax collections till that point were now bringing political empowerment to groups who had difficulty aspiring to hold state level political office (MLA, MP, ZPTC Chairman etc.,). The extensive 50% reservations for SC/ST/BCs in MPPs and the fact that MPP presidents were directly elected by people living in the Mandal made local govt responsive to local needs.
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