The progress of election-bound Rajasthan on key parameters has been mixed in the last five years. While the state government managed to bring down the state fiscal deficit to the levels that it had inherited from the previous government, after having had to grapple with a sharp spike in its initial years, the state has cut down on its expenditure on education since 2014-15, and on development in the last two years. The fiscal deficit as a percentage of the state GDP was 3.5% for FY18, after having spiked to a high of 9.2% in FY16. Despite its efforts, the state continues to lag behind the national average of 3.1% in FY18.
On the social sector, the state has maintained expenditure in excess of 9% of its GSDP over the last four years. This is better than the national average, which ranged between 6.7% and 8.1% of the GSDP. In healthcare, while the state saw a decline in its expenditure in FY16 (4.6%) over FY15 (5.6%), it improved and ended FY18 at 5.4% of its GSDP. This is also higher than the national average of 4.7% in 2017-18.
Tip for Reading List — In-depth look at Reagan puzzle
American journalist Bob Spitz has written the biographies of several cultural figures, including the Beatles and Bob Dylan, besides a book on the Woodstock festival. In his latest book, he goes into the life of Ronald Reagan, covering his political career as the US President as well as his acting career in Hollywood before he entered politics.
Reagan: An American Journey starts from Reagan’s roots — a boy who is born into poverty and raised by a pious mother and an alcoholic father. Severely near-sighted, he manages to go to college, builds a career as a radio sportscaster, and then moves to Hollywood, where he earns fame. The book goes on to his transition to politics, including his run as California Governor, and ultimately his Presidency, the high point of which was his peace talks with the Soviet Union that led to the end of the Cold War.
A review in USA Today describes the two-time President as something of an enigma — a politician who at times seemed “even to his own aides incurious and disengaged”; and “a person capable of connecting with audiences” who, however, allowed “almost no one beyond wife Nancy to get truly close to him”. Noting that Reagan has flummoxed some renowned presidential biographers, the review says Spitz’s book is more successful in capturing just who Reagan was, and describes the portrait of Nancy Reagan as “particularly sophisticated”.
In its review, The New York Times too acknowledges what it calls a “mystery”. “How did this man thrive in so many highly competitive life pursuits, in radio, the movies, television, union leadership and the highest levels of politics?” Spitz’s book, it says, tells the story of how Reagan leveraged his strengths of personality and clearheadedness to compensate for his weaknesses — which included “an intellectual superficiality”. But, the NYT review adds, “Reagan also possessed a photographic memory, a lush imagination, an uncanny instinct for the right moment, highly developed communication skills and a passion for stardom”.