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A vibrant Gujarat, but for whom?

Business Standard tries to unfurl the secret of the state's growth across sectors

BS Reporters  |  New Delhi / Mumbai 

Poverty in Gujarat has come down, but some economists say the drop can be misleading. 

The rate of decline in the state is lower than in many of its peers.


Gujarat rubs shoulders with some of the most developed states in growth. Yet, it lags its peers in human development.

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An unhealthy paradigm?

By Rajiv Rao

Consider this state in India: As much as 44.6 per cent of its children are malnourished. While Infant mortality rates have gone down, its decline has been slower than the national average. More than 65 per cent of its rural households and 40 per cent of its urban ones do not have access to latrines and they use open spaces for defecation. The state has 918 women for every 1,000 men, well below the national average. Poverty amongst urban Muslims is eight times (800 per cent) more than high-caste Hindus.

Clearly, this state should belong in the cluster of lesser-developed ones in India, such as Bihar or Madhya Pradesh. But it does not. In fact, it rubs shoulders with all the developed ones, such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Yet, it lags every one of them in human development. You have obviously guessed by now that the state is Gujarat, but you would have perhaps never imagined these dismal statistics, considering the state’s high-growth trajectory.

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Decoding the poverty puzzle

By Rajiv Rao


Devgadh Baria is a town located in a picturesque part of the eastern, tribal belt of Gujarat, with rolling hills and diverse vegetation. It is also a reservoir for human labour in the state, producing hundreds and thousands of bodies who build the state’s highways, run its small and medium enterprises ( SMEs) and work its farms.

Yet, according to methodology used by the Tendulkar committee, between 2004-05 and 2009-10, Gujarat recorded a 0.3 percentage increase in poverty among the tribal population, in a state that was enjoying an unprecedented industrial boom. Consequently, many social scientists now question how 17 per cent of the population of a state, among other marginalised groups, could see its fortunes slip when the state’s impressive GDP growth should have theoretically provided them upliftment.

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In Gujarat, the industrial sector isn’t the only glittering success. Agriculture has also experienced a significant boom over the past decade, galloping far ahead of the national growth rate of 3%.

But the subject of debate now is: Who gets the credit for the state’s agricultural miracle? 

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What is behind Gujarat's agriculture miracle?

By Rajiv Rao

The industrial sector is not the only glittering success in Gujarat. Agriculture has also experienced a significant boom over the past decade, galloping far ahead of the national growth rate of three per cent yearly, and becoming a much-cited example for other states. But whom to credit for it has begun to arouse a heated debate.

Thirty kilometres from Rajkot — the third largest city in Gujarat, in the arid, semi-tropical Saurashtra — is the prosperous village of Hamirpur, with 120 homes and four temples. Just outside it, village sarpanch Ratansibhai Patel is hunched over a dessicated BT cotton plant, thousands of acres of which have dried up in the area, ruining the village's agricultural prospects this season. Water from the Narmada, as promised by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, hasn't arrived in over a decade, leaving a rain-scarce land parched this year.

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Power rate highest in agriculture sector

By Sudheer Pal Singh

Power rates for farmers in poll-bound Gujarat, led by Narendra Modi, has grown at the highest pace across consumer categories over the past five years. Agricultural tariff in the state grew 47.2 per cent from 119.5 paise per unit in 2007-08 to 176.0 paise per unit in the last financial year (2011-12).

In comparison, rates in the domestic category grew 22.1 per cent, the commercial category by 17.3 per cent and industrial power rates by 16.1 per cent during the period, according to the Planning Commission.

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Modi's magic wand or just an obvious high?

By Rajiv Rao

At first glance, nothing about Ahmedabad may suggest it is the centrifuge of one of the country’s most celebrated growth stories in the past decade. Its buses are few and creaky, its malls underwhelming, its traffic sedate and buildings possess an old-world aura. Yet, the capital of Gujarat has powered the state into becoming a darling of industry and a pioneer of efficient governance and infrastructure.

Despite that, many have begun to ask searching questions about the nature of Gujarat’s development: How different has its growth really been from its peers’? Whom has this growth benefitted? Moreover, can Modi take credit for all of it? Examining Gujarat’s growth model is important for two reasons: It could shed some light on whether the state’s development trajectory can be a role model for inclusive growth — arguably, the kind that India needs; and, a related one, about whether Modi can effectively transplant it on to the national stage, if he swings for the fences.

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First Published: Thu, December 13 2012. 03:33 IST
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