Shining a Light on Gujarat
THE INDIA TODAY STATE OF THE STATE STUDY IS BOTH A REPORT CARD AND A ROADMAP FOR GUJARAT TO FOLLOW
While several tomes have been produced on the Gujarat growth model, these are by and large zoomed-out macro pictures of the state. The india today State of the State report—the third in an ongoing series of state reports— presents a micro-analysis of performance at the district level. Releasing the report in Ahmedabad on December 23, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said, “This study will help us gauge the development in the districts of Gujarat. This objective and highly credible study will help the government map and plan Gujarat’s growth.”
The chief minister also gave away the awards to the district magistrates and police superintendents of the best performing and most improved districts at the third edition of the State of the State Conclave. The conclave is a signature india today event, where a special report is released on the various growth indicators of a state. All districts in the state are ranked on various social and economic parameters, and categories and awards given to the best performing and most improved ones. “There was a need to create an environment of healthy competition between districts,” the chief minister said, “and this study has made that beginning. We’ll study it and work on sectors that need to make progress.”
Recalling Gujarat’s legacy as one of the most developed states in the country, Rupani gave Narendra Modi credit for institutionalising a structure in the state to
VIJAY RUPANI, Chief Minister, Gujarat
improve efficiency and delivery when he was chief minister. “This pushed the state on the path of growth,” he said, “and we are continuing in that direction.”
The daylong event saw several stimulating panel discussions on Gujarat’s growth trajectory. Politicians, bureaucrats, policy experts, filmmakers and actors commented on and debated what more the state needs to do to balance economic growth and social indicators. The state seems to have woken up to this sore point in its growth narrative and is taking corrective measures. “Last year’s budget allocated 48 per cent of the total funds to the social sector; this year too it will be in the same range,” Gujarat Chief Secretary J.N. Singh said.
With the entire country discussing demonetisation, the issue came up several times during the interactions. Dismissing criticism that it has stalled economic activity, resulting in job losses, the chief minister said, “Note ban caused inconvenience to people initially. But let me assure you, there has been no layoff in any industry in Gujarat, including the diamond industry.”
“THERE WAS A NEED FOR HEALTHY COMPETITION AMONG DISTRICTS AND THIS REPORT HAS MADE A BEGINNING”
“GUJARAT MADE PROGRESS IN INDUSTRY, AGRICULTURE AND SERVICES. NO ONE SECTOR GREW AT THE COST OF ANOTHER” DHARMENDRA PRADHAN, Union petroleum minister
The chief minister found support in industry expert Sunil Parikh’s observation. GST and demonetisation, he said, were in a way complementary to each other.
Reacting to a question on the rising violence against Dalits, Rupani said the Una incident, where Dalit youth were flogged for skinning dead cows, was politically orchestrated to needle the NDA government at the Centre. “No government has taken stricter measures than we did after the Una incident. We are ensuring the harshest punishment is meted out to the perpetrators. We created a fast track court and suspended all police officers found to be neglecting duty,” he said. When asked about the popularity of Hardik Patel, who has been demanding reservations for his community, Rupani said reservations is a nationwide issue but took an ugly turn in Gujarat because of vote bank politics. Rupani, however, was non-committal when asked about the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in next year’s assembly elections. “I cannot say if I’ll be the CM candidate, the party will decide,” he said. “To win in Gujarat, we don’t need any other face. Modi’s name is enough. Modi and Gujarat are two sides of the same coin.”
The conclave was inaugurated by Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan. Commenting on the Gujarat growth story, Pradhan said the best part of the Gujarat model of development was that it was a balanced one. “The state progressed in industry, services and agriculture. No sector grew at the cost of another,” he said.
PARESH RAWAL, Actor
The conclave was also attended by Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, Panchayati Raj Parshottam Rupala; Gujarat Minister for Tribal Development, Tourism and Forest Ganpatsinh Vasava; Gujarat Minister, Revenue, Education, Legislative and Parliamentary affairs Bhupendrasinh Chudasama; Gujarat Minister of State, Health and Family Welfare, Medical Education, Environment (all independent charge) and Urban Development Shankarbhai Lagdhirbhai Chaudhari; Gujarat Minister of State for Home, Energy, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Pradipsinh Chudasama; National Spokesperson for Indian National Congress Shaktisinh Gohil and economist and public policy specialist Tushar Shah. Economist and academic Yogendra K. Alagh; National Dairy Development Board chairman Dilip Rath; actor Paresh Rawal and filmmaker Ketan Mehta were also present.
Commenting on Gujarat’s phenomenal agricultural success, Tushar Shah said, “Nowhere in the world have we seen a region with agricultural growth of over 7-8 per cent; in Gujarat it was around 9 per cent for over a decade.” However, Rupala said the challenge was to work for the betterment of small and marginal farmers. Alagh pointed to the imbalance between grains and non-grains in the state. Rath lamented that despite the success of the milk revolution, it had not reached all corners of the state.
Speaking about the future of Gujarati cinema, Rawal said good films will always have an audience. “I want Gujarati films to be of international standard, the way Malayalam and Bengali films have got global recognition,” he said.
“I WANT GUJARATI FILMS TO BE OF INTERNATIONAL STANDARD LIKE MALAYALAM AND BENGALI FILMS ARE”