Uttar Pradesh has become a symbol of bad governance. Successive rulers have surpassed their predecessors in this. Corruption is systemic and rampant. Jobs are limited and the few that the state government creates are blatantly sold. There is collusion at all levels as corruption flows right to the top of the chain. This corruption will be difficult to cleanse until the leaders at the very top go. That needs a change in the fundamental nature of the state’s politics.

Due to continued bad governance, Uttar Pradesh is perceived as an unsafe state to do business. Indian and foreign investors have largely shunned the state and chosen to set up factories elsewhere, although they could not afford not selling their goods and services in Uttar Pradesh. We must create a safe environment for investors to invest in Uttar Pradesh.

Depoliticize and leverage bureaucracy to deliver governance. Most of our bureaucrats are capable people and can provide good administration if insulated from political interference. Some of them become reluctant participants in corruption as they find hard to resist pressure from their political bosses. We know what happens to whistleblowers. Yet to their credit, many of our bureaucrats are honest, sincere and want to do well for the state.

We need to stop political interference in administration and let the bureaucrats administer as per the rule of law. Rampant and arbitrary transfers should be banned. Public officials should work solely for the welfare of the people and not the political party at the helm of affairs. We need to empower them to make decisions. We should recognize and reward performers at all levels; at the same time, the laggards should be taken to task and penalized. The retirement benefits of those found guilty of serious misconduct and corruption should be withdrawn.

Clear judicial backlog: Justice delayed is justice denied. Of the 4.5 million cases pending before high courts in India, more than 1 million are listed at the Allahabad High Court. Of these, 350,000 are criminal cases. The lower courts in India have more than 26 million pending cases, with Uttar Pradesh alone accounting for 5.6 million. Of these 4.2 million are criminal cases. The backlog is only increasing. Cases are routinely adjourned. An ordinary citizen has no hope of getting timely justice. In the process, the rule of law is undermined and is in effect absent.

In consultation with the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court, Uttar Pradesh should invest in judicial infrastructure to ensure that all pending cases are cleared within five years. This would mean investment to create courts and appoint hundreds of judges to dispense with the cases. Special purpose courts should be set up for faster redressal. Alternative mechanisms such as the Lok Adalat and an alternative dispute resolution system should be set up and encouraged for early closure of cases. The state, which by far is the single biggest litigant, should set an example by not seeking unnecessary reviews of court decisions by the higher court.

These measures will improve the climate in the state, which in turn will attract investments, create jobs and unleash the potential of our youth.