A response to Salil Tripathi - II
Facts are sacred; comment is free.
In his column ‘Here, There, Everywhere’, published in Mint under the headline “Incredible impunity” on February 29, 2012, Mr Salil Tripathi displays incredible ignorance (I sincerely mean no offence for he is a writer gifted with incredible intelligence) of Gujarat’s incredible economic growth and incredible prosperity, both of which are the envy of every State in the country.
The economic development and growth, and the consequent prosperity, witnessed in Gujarat have whetted the aspirations of Indians from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. They have brought about a paradigm shift in the people’s expectations from their Government – in their respective States; at the Centre. All this, of course, is inconsequential to Mr Tripathi who is neither impressed nor moved by Gujarat’s giant strides!
Reluctant to use the term ‘Modi Model’ for reasons that do not merit elaboration, a senior CPI(M) leader of West Bengal, reflecting on what went wrong with the Left Front that led to its decimation in the 2011 Assembly election, ruefully told me: “If only we had worked towards adopting the Gujarat Model…”
Those who are determined to demonise Mr Narendra Modi and deny him any credit for the ‘Gujarat Model’ of remarkable growth and prosperity are welcome to live in cussed denial, but that won’t change the ground reality – Gujarat’s economy has grown; Gujaratis (both Hindus and Muslims) have prospered. Nor will it influence the manner in which investors at home and abroad view the State.
Vibrant Gujarat has set new standards for other States to emulate. That entrepreneurs from other States, including Jammu & Kashmir, want to set up their businesses in Gujarat explains what sets this State apart from others. That difference is on account of the political leadership of the day.
Comparisons, as the adage goes, can be odious. Hence they are best avoided. But since Mr Tripathi has compared Gujarat to Maharashtra in a strenuous effort to belittle the former’s achievements, it would be in order to not only suggest that he and other critics of Mr Narendra Modi should revisit the socio-economic profiles of the two States for a closer scrutiny of details, but to also point out that a vast gulf separates these two States.
That gulf is about probity in public life; it’s about the integrity of those who are in charge of the Government; it’s about, to put it in two words, good governance.
Mr Tripathi is right when he says Gujaratis are an enterprising lot and that they have always done better than other Indians, even in trying circumstances – for instance, when Chimanbhai was Chief Minister of the State, the man who was known as “Chiman Chor”. Gujarat’s economic growth and prosperity over the past decade has been accompanied by a thorough cleansing of the system. Mr Narendra Modi can justly claim: “Na khata hoon na khilata hoon.”
That, understandably, leaves many disconsolate.
Stray statistics, confusing and plucked at random, find mention in Mr Tripathi’s column: They have been quoted to put down Gujarat. I can only cite from official documents a set of statistics that I have cross-checked with friends in the Planning Commission:
Gross Domestic Product: At current prices, Gujarat’s share at Rs 5,13,173 crore is 7.17 per cent of India’s GDP. At constant prices (2004-05), it’s Rs 3,65,295 crore, or 7.48 per cent of India’s GDP.
Net Domestic Product: At current prices, Gujarat’s share at Rs 4,40,942 crore is 6.89 per cent of India’s NDP. At constant prices (2004-05), it’s Rs 3,09,409 crore, or 7.16 per cent of India’s NDP.
Per Capita Income: At current prices, it is Rs 75,115 compared to the national average of Rs 53,331. At constant prices (2004-05), it’s Rs 52,708 compared to the national average of Rs 35,993.
Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure (NSS 2009-10): In rural areas of Gujarat it is Rs 1,065 compared to the national average of Rs 953. In urban areas it is Rs 1,914 compared to the national average of Rs 1,856.
While the manufacturing sector and agriculture have suffered huge reversals across the country in the recent years under the UPA’s tutelage, Gujarat has bucked the trend. Manufacturing and agriculture continue to register impressive growth in the State. In 2002-03, ports in Gujarat were handling 841 lakh tonnes of goods; in 2010-11, that figure had grown to 2,309 lakh tonnes.
Mr Tripathi mocks at Mr Narendra Modi’s claim that Gujarat will soon be in a position to provide power to power-starved States. He overlooks the fact that Gujarat is the only State which can today boast of 24x7 power supply to industry, farms and homes. It’s absurd to compare Gujarat’s power generation capacity (GSEB alone produces 4,996 MW) to that of north-eastern States. The former has heavy industrial and agricultural demand for power; the latter has virtually none.
I wish Mr Tripathi had compared the power situation in Gujarat with that which prevails in Maharashtra or Uttar Pradesh (where I live and hence am acquainted with the reality) or India's capital city, Delhi (where I work and hence am also acquainted with the reality).
The comparison reminds me of how Jyoti Basu had once proudly proclaimed that Calcutta, as Kolkata was then known, had left behind its terrible days and nights of relentless ‘load-shedding’. What he forgot to mention is that West Bengal had left behind its glory days as the industrial hub of the eastern hinterland.
I could go on citing statistical details, but the list is far too long. Those who are interested in the specifics will find them in the latest Socio-Economic Review of Gujarat. A patient reading will tell you why it’s incorrect (and grossly unfair) to try and diminish Gujarat’s spectacular social and economic achievements.
“So many things work properly in Gujarat that it hardly feels like India,” the Economist said in a review of Gujarat’s economy. The report was telling published under the headline, “India's Guangdong: A north-western State offers a glimpse of a possible industrial future for India.” The report can be read here.
Mr Tripathi has chosen to play fast and loose while discussing Gujarat’s commitment to fiscal responsibility. It’s possible he is not aware of the minutiae of the FRBM Act and the fact that the 13th Finance Commission has set targets for each State Government and every State has to periodically report progress which is documented. Compared to other States, Gujarat has been well ahead of meeting the targets that were set for its compliance to fiscal responsibility. The details are available over here for those who are interested in the specifics.
Admittedly, nobody is perfect. If Mr Narendra Modi is guilty of anything, it is of pursuing purposeful policies of enablement and empowerment of all, irrespective of gender, caste and faith, while eschewing wasteful policies of entitlement. That’s where the 'Modi Model', or call it the 'Gujarat Model' if you wish, stands out in stark contrast to the 'NAC Model'.
That, understandably, leaves many incandescent with rage.
(To be continued.)