Modi’s mythic development model

Tags: Opinion

Contrary to popular belief, data show Gujarat is not as extraordinary as its CM proclaims it to be

Modi’s mythic development model
REALITY CHECK: Modi’s penchant for the hindutva philosophy of the RSS and his attitude towards certain religious minorities is unbecoming of a future prime minister. It becomes seminal for the nation to examine the record and credentials of such an individual
Recently the Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa launched a virulent attack on the Gujarat model of development. She claimed that her state was much better placed than Gujarat when it came to various social and market indicators. While the timing of her diatribe is a little suspect, coming as it is during the parliamentary elections, her facts cannot be dismissed perfunctorily as they are rather disquieting.

She stated that “A myth has been created that Gujarat is No. 1 in India. But that is not true. The fact of the matter is that Gujarat is keen to market itself, but Tamil Nadu, under my leadership, is focused not in making empty claims, but more determined to deliver.” She then went on to challenge the Gujarat development model on the following indicators —below poverty rate, maternal mortality rate, coverage of PDS schemes, industrial growth, foodgrain production and foreign investment. In all of these indicators, she claimed that Tamil Nadu trumps Gujarat by a fair margin. One cannot take this contest between ‘two states’ too seriously, but one has to interrogate Modi’s much acclaimed Gujarat model as this seems to be his proudest achievement and the plank on which he is staking his claim for the prime ministership of this nation.

Modi’s ambition to become the prime minister has been met with stiff opposition from mainly religious minorities and secular liberals. The opposition has been on two important factors — Modi’s responsibility for the Gujarat riots of 2002 and the fact that he is a RSS man, steeped deep in the sectarian and majoritarian philosophy of the Sangh brotherhood. While Modi’s hard line admirers dismissed these criticisms as falsehoods propagated by ‘pseudo-secular’ elements, many other admirers, mainly from the educated middle class, chose to turn a blind eye to the alleged ‘fascist’ side of Modi, choosing instead to focus on the success of the Gujarat model of development. The plethora of scams and scandals under the decade long rule of the UPA had made many crave for an alternative. Modi seemed like a sound bet for them. He was supposed to be incorruptible and was he not the architect of the famous Gujarat model? That is why it is paramount for objective non-partisan scholars to examine the Gujarat model.

One cannot assess the Gujarat model merely by looking at recent indicators like what the Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa has done. It would be a lot more fairer if one examined the various developmental indicators for at least a decade from 2001, when Narendra Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat. According to Planning Commission figures, in the period 2001-10,Gujarat increased its annual rate of growth from 8.01 per cent to 8.68 per cent. This cannot be labelled as ‘phenomenal’ as other major states such as Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh also registered a similar growth rate. In fact, Gujarat was ranked third after Haryana (8.95 per cent) in the mentioned period. What is remarkable is that Bihar and Orissa, generally alluded to as the two most backward and poverty-stricken states, also showed growth pick up from 8.02 per cent and 8.13 per cent. Even smaller states like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have registered growth of 11.01 per cent and 8.96 per cent, respectively.

During 2006-10, Gujarat signed MoUs worth Rs 5.35 lakh crore, supposedly with a potential for Rs 6.47 lakh new jobs.

However, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with MoUs promising investments of Rs 4.20 lakh crore and Rs 1.63 lakh crore, respectively, and promising about 8.63 lakh and 13.09 lakh jobs each, were well ahead of Gujarat in terms of promised job creation. During 2001-04, industrial growth for Gujarat was 3.95 per cent, rising to a more creditable 12.65 per cent between 2005-9.During these two periods, industrial growth for Orissa was 6.4 per cent and 17.65 per cent; 8.10 per cent and 13.3 per cent for Chhattisgarh; and 18.84 per cent and 11.63 per cent in Uttarakhand. Gujarat does not seem to be that extraordinary entity that Modi proclaims it to be.

It is really amazing that the nation can be fooled by the propaganda unleashed by Modi’s PR team. The mainstream electronic media is largely responsible for creating the so called ‘Modi wave’. One does not dispute the fact that Modi is popular. However, the media’s relentless campaign of projecting Modi as some kind of a desi superhero who will perform miracles is deplorable to say the least. The media has been guilty of not objectively assessing the Gujarat development model.

In all fairness, Narendra Modi is a very controversial choice for the highest office in this land. His penchant for the hindutva philosophy of the RSS and his attitude towards certain religious minorities is unbecoming of a future prime minister. It becomes seminal for the nation to examine the record and credentials of such an individual. This record leaves much to be desired.

(The writer is a faculty member of the School of Law, Christ

University, Bangalore)


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