Growth stories from Gujarat

It is a common experience for visitors to Gujarat to be told, by the many residents they meet, including auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers, that the chief minister has truly brought economic prosperity to the state. Gujarat has become a dreamland of success for those who seek "roti, kapda aur makaan" in their own states. The chief minister has succeeded in creating an impression that "salamati and samruddhi" have been achieved. The aam aadmi in Gujarat and elsewhere believes that he is a "mard", a macho man. Indeed, the real success here lies in the way a larger-than-life image has been established.

Gujarat's economy has certainly grown, but this is because of a strong previous record of growth. The last 10 years look good because the previous two decades were also years of sound economic growth, apart from the odd year of drought. Since 2000, there has been no serious drought. The drinking water problem has been solved after the Narmada project became operational. The agriculture sector has grown, but at the cost of foodgrain-producing areas. Gujarat's track record with respect to the PDS being tardy, food security has been jeopardised. Soil health has seriously deteriorated. In the industrial sector, the economist and nominated Rajya Sabha MP affiliated to the Congress, B. Mungekar, has shown that during 1995-2000 and 2001-10, Gujarat experienced an increase in annual rate of growth from 8.01 per cent to 8.68 per cent. Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have also experienced growth at comparable rates. Gujarat was not number one in either period. It was second after Rajasthan, with 8.34 per cent, in the first period and third after Uttarakhand, with 11.81 per cent, and Haryana, with 8.95 per cent, in the second period. Industry has grown in Orissa and Chhattisgarh at 17.5 and 13.3 per cent respectively during 2005-09, higher than Gujarat's 12.6 per cent. Gujarat ranked sixth among major states in per capita income in 2011, with Rs 63,996, after Haryana (Rs 92,327), Maharashtra (Rs 83,471), Punjab (Rs 67,473), Tamil Nadu (Rs 72,993) and Uttarakhand (Rs 68,292).

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