- Arvind Panagariya
With the bid by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the office of the prime minister of India in full swing, attacks on the Gujarat story have intensified.
Given the narrowing of the contest to one between Mr Modi and the Congress, one would expect the critics to compare the accomplishments of the former in Gujarat to the latter's nationally. But no critic would hazard such a comparison.
The data leave little room for anyone to credibly question the superior performance of Gujarat in industrialisation, agricultural development and overall growth.
Therefore, critics have invented the argument that thanks to its long-standing entrepreneurial tradition, Gujarat has always grown fast. But if so, why is Rajasthan not a growth powerhouse despite its legendary Marwari entrepreneurs? Attracted by the superior business environment, those entrepreneurs have in fact migrated to Gujarat.
The claim that Gujarat has always grown fast also turns out to be false. A recent study by economists Archana Dholakia and Ravindra Dholakia shows that the trend growth rate in Gujarat was below the national average in the 1960s, above it in the 1970s and below it yet again in the 1980s.
Far from always growing the fastest in the nation, Gujarat has not even grown faster, always, than the national average.
Christophe Jaffrelot has questioned Gujarat's record on poverty. But he relies on dated evidence and faulty analysis. Between 2004-05 and 2011-12, overall poverty in Gujarat fell by 15.2 percentage points compared with 15.3 percentage points nationally.
Image: Chief Minister of Gujarat and the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses supporters after arriving at the domestic airport in Mumbai on September 30, 2013. (AFP)
Text: Business Standard