Real story of Gujarat’s development

By Nirav Shah

Vadodara, 26 February 2013

Frontline, published by the Hindu group, recently came up with an article titled ‘Mirage of Journalism’ with the obvious motive of debunking the Gujarat Growth Story. As is the norm these days, it uses half-truths, half-baked stories and selective data to discredit the most noteworthy story of development in the last decade. Before quoting random persons to suit its agenda, the author should also take into account that ,it is this common man of Gujarat who has put faith in the Modi Government, time and again!

Initially Op/Ed articles were used to push individual biases and prejudices against Narendra Modi and the state of Gujarat. But now, shoot and scoot journalism seems to be on the rise. Brave Quotation of distorted facts and convenient data to elicit a wrong picture is in vogue! But there is a thin line between bravery and buffoonery!

Vibrant Gujarat

Vibrant Gujarat is a landmark initiative by backed by the foresight of Narendra Modi marking a paradigm shift by eliminating bureaucratic roadblocks and facilitating a single window system for investors. It not only showcases Gujarat’s strengths but also aims at building long standing relations!

The author begins on a faulty note by saying ‘Despite the much-touted Vibrant Gujarat programmes, it is interesting to note that foreign direct investment is not the highest in Gujarat’. The author fails to identify that the platform of Vibrant Gujarat is not solely focussed on foreign investors. Vibrant Gujarat aims at bringing together entrepreneurs of all hues to invest in their capacities and empower the people of Gujarat! The author singles out the data from Vibrant 2011 Summit to push forward her prejudice. But she should know that there is always a Gestation Period before an Industry is set up and starts functioning! The authors mindset is akin to thinking that a newborn child should have a full set of teeth in his mouth right at the time of birth just because the doctor told that he/she is healthy!

This is a small lesson on how Industry works for the author and anyone else who wants to write similar articles in the future! A MoU is only a preliminary step. Following that, there will be an EM (Entrepreneurship Memorandum) for a SME (small and medium enterprise), an IEM (Industrial Entrepreneurship Memorandum) for a non-SME project that is not subject to compulsory licensing and a LOI (letter of intent) for something that requires compulsory licensing. Assuming that registration of the firm is not required, land will have to be acquired or obtained. There will be environment, construction/building, water, power and indirect tax clearances. The financial requirements will have to be taken care of and only after all this is over, can the final clearance be obtained. In other words, no matter how fast the track is, there is a time lag.1

Going by the figures the author quotes for the Vibrant Gujarat , Investments worth Rs 3,17,985 Crores materialised over the past decade. Is this a mediocre figure by any standards? Investments to this tune were realised only due to the efforts of the Gujarat Government in organising this biennial summit! Why not look at the amount of water in the glass, rather than ponder over the amount of air in the glass?


The biggest surprise comes when the author states that ‘Paradoxically, employment has not kept pace with the spurt in economic growth’. Here, it is imperative to state that the unemployment rate in Gujarat is the lowest in the country, beating the national rate by a good margin!

Source: Report on Employment & Unemployment Survey 2011-122

In reality, Gujarat is acting as the growth engine of the country, with respect to providing employment. Gujarat contributes a major share in providing employment through the employment exchanges.

Source : Directorate of Employment & Training3

Hopefully, the above data nullifies all the doubt regarding Gujarat’s position in employment generation. Now, this employment generated has had a directly beneficial effect on the economic prosperity of the people of Gujarat, reflected by the Per Capita Income. But again, the author uses convenient data to conceal the real picture. The Per-Capita income in Gujarat saw a huge surge from Rs 17,228 in 2000-01 to rise to Rs 52,708(at constant 2004-05 prices). These are remarkable figures, because the income of people in Gujarat multiplied by more than 3 times just in a span of the last decade! This is the highest growth achieved by any state of India in the last 10 years.

Regarding Employment, while the author claims that ‘Rural Gujarat has been particularly hit despite the fact that there has been an increase in growth in the rural sector’, Planning Commission figures paint a contrasting picture. The no of people below the poverty line in Rural Gujarat actually fell by a good 12.4% from 39.1% to 26.7% between 2004-05 and 2009-10!

Source: Planning Commission Data4

Health and Nutrition

While Gujarat has been at the forefront of the Economic Revolution in the last decade, wide scale efforts have also been made so that the benefits percolate right upto the bottom of the social strata ! But it is essential to understand, that, though government intervention aids in improving on some fronts, the government cannot change the personal habits of a person. Awareness has to be created about the issues which can result in a shift towards to healthier habits and gradually improve the situation. Thus the ground efforts usually take longer to reflect in statistics.

Gujarat has been making rapid strides in these spheres as well. The Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000 live births) in Gujarat dropped from 60 in 2001 to 41 in 2012!

Source: Gujarat Socio-Economic Review6 and Planning Commission

Similarly, Gujarat also exhibited good improvement in the Maternal Mortality Rate. Gujarat’s Maternal Mortality Rate stands at 12.8% while the national average is 16.3%7. According to the Census, Gujarat is one of the best states with respect to the Maternal Mortality Ratio!

Malnutrition is a serious problem faced by the entire nation, not only Gujarat and it would be grossly unfair to selectively target Gujarat for malnutrition.



Here the author arbitrarily states that ‘Education also seems to be low on priority when it comes to government spending’. The fact is Education is one of the main priorities of the government. Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s various programs and initiatives gave a thrust to the cause of literacy in Gujarat and in the last 10 years, it rose by 11.47% from 69.14% to 79.31%. The Government has worked very hard to decrease the school drop out rates and has got very encouraging results too.

Source: Gujarat Socio-Economic Review

Special focus has been given to the ITIs. During just a decade, the number of ITIs has increased from 274 to 1068 and the number of ITI seats has been raised from 77000 to five lakh. The state government has even come out with a decision that will help ITI pass-outs to directly pursue diploma and degree courses. It has been the State Government’s endeavour to maximise the no of seats in colleges so that no deserving candidate has to suffer due to lack of seats!

Source: Gujarat Socio-Economic Review

Water and Sanitation

Now the author says that ‘43 per cent of the rural households in Gujarat get water supply on their premises and 16.7 per cent get treated water from a common tap. In urban households, the corresponding percentages are 84 per cent and 69 per cent.The data show that 67 per cent of rural households in the State have no access to toilets and members of more than 65 per cent of the households defecate in the open, very often polluting common water sources. Waste collection and disposal are matters practically unheard of.’

But latest data from the Planning Commission paints a different picture altogether! According to the Planning Commission Data9, 87.5% of the total households receive water in their premises or near their premises! The data also shows that, 57.4% of the total population have access to toilet within their premises and another 2.3% use public toilets.

All said and done, the complete facts and figures speak for themselves! But, this chicanery in the name of exposing the real story of Gujarat must cease, once and for all! For ,there is no other real story of Gujarat, other than the REAL STORY of Gujarat!


Gujarat: Governance for Growth and Development by Bibek Debroy