Despite tall claims by the state Chief Minister, Narendra
Modi and hype created by a section in the media about the
development and prosperity in the state, the ground realities in
Gujarat vis-à-vis hunger, foreign investment, per capita income,
pro-people measures by the government, poverty and human
development ranking are not encouraging. They are in fact worse than
many under-developed states in India, claims a study conducted by
the National Council of Applied Economic Research.
Dr. Abusaleh Shariff, who conducted
the study, to come to this conclusion reviewed how Gujarat is
faring in other measures of standard of living such as poverty,
human development, hunger and so on. Dr Shariff also reviewed how
various socio-religious communities living in Gujarat are placed
in a relative perspective.
He used data from the National Accounts (NAS),
the Reserve Bank of India, National Sample Survey Organization,
the Human Development Survey of the National Council of Applied
Economic Research and the Prime Minister's High Level Committee (Sachar
Committee) report. The FDI information
according to main centers of investments is drawn from ministries
of Commerce and industry.
Stating that Gujarat emerges as a State with high levels
of hunger, while simultaneously boasting high per capita income
and consistent income stability, Dr Shariff wrote in his report, "Disturbingly Gujarat's hunger
levels are high alongside Orissa and Bihar, with only Jharkhand,
Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh having higher hunger levels.
Punjab, Kerala and Haryana (in whose league Gujarat was placed in
terms of per capita NSDP), are very progressive measured by levels
of hunger having least hungry population. Even Uttar Pradesh has
registered lower levels of hunger Gujarat."
"This paradox", he wrote, "Is explained by the fact that state such as Uttar Pradesh
has vast areas under multi-cropping cultivation cycle with the
blessing of the perennial supply of water from the mighty river
Gaga. This ensures that in spite of UP's population being poor,
they are at least minimally fed. Incomes are more evenly spread in
Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Uttar Pradesh in fact
fares a notch above even Tamil Nadu and West Bengal in having
lower hunger; but Gujarat is much above all these states in having
relatively higher incidence of hunger."
"Furthermore", he wrote, "Rajasthan
has also recorded lower levels of hunger compared to Gujarat and
this appears to be due to pro-poor state policies. Therefore, this
analysis gives credence to the fact that Gujarat is a state where
the rich-poor disparities are far greater relatively speaking."
Income, Poverty and Human Development
Stating that there is a positive
association between income and poverty (lower poverty), and human
development (higher), he wrote, "Higher position in human
development ranking relative to poverty is an evidence of
pro-people welfare state. One finds such an association in Kerala,
Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal and even Orissa,
which has higher HDI ranking compared with respective ranking in
per capita income and poverty about the second half of 2000s in
the ranking undertaken for 19 major states."
"On the other hand", he continued, "Gujarat has recorded relatively lower level of human development
ranking compared with its poverty ranking – while in latter 2000s
it tops at 6th level in income, but is places one level lower in
poverty (that is higher poverty relative to income) but ranked 9th
in HDI, far too low which is unexpected."
"The higher income levels
must yield better human development, generally speaking as people
will be in a better position to make investments in education,
health and wellbeing. Orissa which reveals high levels of poverty
performs better on the HDI; in fact it shows resilience in
improving HDI at its own level of development and poverty.
Further, one notice that the relative ranking of Gujarat in
incidence of poverty and human development has declined between
the mid 1990s and latter part of 2000s", he wrote.
"When the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
evaluated, Gujarat is found to be at the bottom of the list of large
Indian states. In fact Rajasthan is
at the top, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Tamil
Nadu", he found in his study.
Questioning the reports
and claims that large amounts of foreign, often NRI linked,
investments in Gujarat are in plenty, Dr. Shariff wrote, "The region/state specific FDI
data provided by the "department
of industrial policy and development‟ suggests that the size of
cumulative inflows from January
2000 to March 2010 has been highest in Maharashtra with 1.75 lakh
crores, followed by New
Delhi at 1.02 lakh crore. Even the state of Karnataka has received
31 thousand crores which ishigher than the FDI in Gujarat only with 28 thousand crores. The
FDI line up continues with
Tamil Nadu, (Rs. 25 thousand crores), Andhra Pradesh (Rs. 21
thousand crores) and Kolkata
having received a meager 6 thousand crores."
"Thus Gujarat is a game for playing the “the politics of
development” and no one is caring to
assess if such tall claims have any truth behind them. Hype and
hoopla built around foreign direct
investment (FDI) in Gujarat is a lie. Gujarat can be considered a
hunting ground "for NRI and
corporate politics", and that "the FDI hype" is designed
to facilitate tax subsidies, cheap licensing, under-priced land
and low royalty payments to the investors. Often the politics
works in such a way that Gujarat is used as a platform for
corporate negotiations and investments in other states", he
"Investments announced in Gujarat appear largely promises, as the
real amount invested is found to be a fraction of the amount
promised due to practical reasons", he wrote.
Per Capita Net State Domestic Product (PCNSDP)
Stating that per capita SDP or
income is an indicator and measure of economic prosperity and
Gujarat is a well-off State, figuring among the top ten in terms
of per capita State Domestic Product since long, Dr Shariff wrote,
"A review of
triennium averages in constant prices since the 1970s suggest that
Gujarat has been occupying 6th or 7th positions most of the last
four decade excepting mid-1996 when it was at the 4th position.
For the year 2007-08 and in terms of current prices, Gujarat had
an income of Rs. 45, 773, but Haryana with an annual per capita
income of Rs. 59,008 tops the list followed by Punjab, Maharashtra
and Kerala. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are a notch
below in the vicinity of Gujarat competing to climb up."
Questioning the claims that Narendra
Modi has been instrumental in dramatic turnaround in Gujarat, Dr.
Shariff wrote, "(No doubt) Gujarat is one of the large states
in India known for sustained levels of development. "Gujarties‟
the people of Gujarat so identified - rings a bell in imagination
as enterprising people with an edge to manage and invest money in
businesses and enhance savings. (But) These Gujarati attributes
are not new, rather age old; and developed over centuries
especially due to their easy contact with the travelling business
men from all over the world at the Indian west-coast."
"Overall the economic status of
Gujarat has been stable and relatively on the higher side at least
since last four decades. Thus the Gujarat growth story measured in
terms of macro economic indicator is not new; rather it is an old
one", he added.
Agreeing that Gujarat has over 90
percent paved roads to villages, 98 percent electrified villages
with 80 percent electrified homes and 18 hours of electricity
everyday, 86 percent piped water supply and better phone
connections, banks, post offices, bus connection compared to other
states. Agricultural extension work, too, is better than in other
states, Dr. Shariff found in his study, "Amid all this, poverty,
hunger and sense of insecurity thrive in Gujarat."