If The Gujarat Model’s Been So Successful, Why Is It Being Questioned Now?

The Gujarat model of development, in a way, signifies the development of the state.

It brought in large investments from multi-national companies, which were given land and cheap labourers. They created factories, refineries and manufacturing centres. It assured 24/7, three-phase power supply for every village.

The western state also became an automobile hub, with brands like Tata, Maruti, Ford setting up shop – after lands were given, supposedly at subsidised rates to the companies. It also became a power surplus state on the back of initiatives and technological investments in the power sector – for instance, the canal-top solar power plant near Vadodra, built on a 3.6 kilometre stretch along irrigation canals. Apparently, the project saved on 16 hectares of land, while also being 7% more efficient.

Along with this, the state also developed one of the best road networks in the country, which led to the efficient delivery of public services. The state also implemented the Bus Rapid Transit System in four of its cities. It also made the transition to implement advanced infrastructures and technologies like WiFi (among many others).

Going by the state’s rank in the 2013 economic freedom index, the government constraint in the production, distribution or consumption of goods and services was eased beyond the extent necessary for the citizens. In addition, there was a 11% growth in the state’s agricultural sector between 2000 and 2010. During the same period, the income of the farmers also increased. Even the state’s ground water level rose significantly in 2016. The state also seems to be serious in addressing the effects of climate change.

What was perhaps most satisfactory for the Gujarat government was that it was able to decrease the malnutrition rate by 43% in 2016 (as compared to the 2010-11 figures). The last Census also revealed that female literacy had risen by nearly 13% in the state. In 2012, Narendra Modi claimed that the state was aiming for a 100% enrollment of girls. According to government data, school dropout rates had been reduced to single digits by 2013-14. Last but not the least, Gujarat is one of the relatively-safer places for women in the country.

However, the political scientist, Christopher Jaffrelot, said that this model was a case of ‘jobless growth‘. According to him, this model created fewer jobs than the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) could have. This model has seen growth with the minimal development. He further stated that jobs were scattered, owing to the heavy dependence on automation, thereby causing hopelessness among the manual labourers.

Flaying the PM for his Gujarat model, the Samajwadi Party president, Akhilesh Yadav, said that the development in Gujarat appears to have slowed down in the past several years. He also claimed that he didn’t see much of a clean Gujarat even after travelling two days in the state. The name of the Gujarat model was only used to win elections.

The Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, has also raised several questions related to the development in the state. His queries coincide with others’ impressions of the ‘poor’ Gujarat model, presently.

People have begun thinking of this like they would if they didn’t know what a garlic actually is – is it a vegetable or a spice?


Featured image sources: AP Dube/Hindustan Times via Getty Images, Vijayanand Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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