An economy which was one of the least contributing to the GDP, is now among the top five.
A change of this magnitude has been seen rarely. This transition is the outcome of policies that were implemented during the golden age of Gujarat under then CM Narendra Modi. From 2001 to 2014, Gujarat saw drastic changes in many areas of the economy. From new power, agriculture and water reforms to industry and investment welfare, these changes have changed the face of Gujarat. Known as the Gujarat Model, these policies have made Gujarat what it is today.
The Gujarat Model and its success is attributed to schemes and strategies that targeted specific populations and development sectors. One of the main aspects that the model focused on was decentralization of growth factors. Programs like water management, rural electrification, transport etc brought the villages at par with the cities. Gujarat is the only state where all the villages are electrified. Schemes related to Agriculture and other low income jobs were made to give direct benefit.
The Jyotigram Yojana gave 24 hour domestic power supply along with 8 hours of irrigational power throughout the state. Check dams and state-wide roads were important to make this scheme a success. Untouched sectors of tribals (Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana) and coastal fishermen (Sagarkhedu Yojana) were put in the mainstream. To ensure that the schemes benefit the villages, the governance was decentralised and self governance was promoted. Jan Vikas Kendras were set up to further benefit the rural population. The initiatives of the e- governance system have ensured transparency throughout the model.
Modi focused on calling in private players to set up their companies and bases in the state. Today, Gujarat hosts the largest refinery of reliance, the biggest ship breaking yard in the world. 30% of India’s population is not connected by road, but Gujarat has managed to connect more than 90% of their rural and urban population to be connected by metal roads.The state has one of the least rates of unemployment. Modi also focused on ease of doing business. By prioritising pro-industry policies, he attracted industries from all over the world.Emphasizing on single window clearance for all licensing requirements, tax concession to certain capital intensive industries, smooth connectivity to all hubs of transport, easy land acquisition process, dependable power supply and many other schemes, the industry has grown at a commendable pace. In terms of development, Gujarat has surpassed many states as it achieved a balance between agriculture and industries.
The safest place for women after Goa, Gujarat has an average crime rate of only 8.2%. The GDP of Gujarat has been growing at 12% for more than a decade now. The state is one of the most prosperous ones in the country with a per capita GDP 3.2 times more than the national average. Gujarat is responsible for 51% of petrochemicals, 35% of pharmaceuticals, and 24% of textile production of India among others. These stats would not have been possible if ground work and base would not have been strong.
Despite doing well in these areas, Gujarat has not performed well in sustained human development. Although these sectors have improved, they are still not at par with national averages. The healthcare sector in the state is not upto the mark. Compared to some other well developed states, Gujarat lacks facilities and specialists in the medical field. The infant and maternal mortality rate is something that has to be addressed. The state has spent comparatively very less on quality education. When compared to states like Bihar, it seems good enough but sadly that is not an equal comparison in the first place. These uncovered areas make us think about some of the policies that could have been implemented. These important areas were overshadowed by the rampant economic development that took place in the state. Another big drawback of these policies was the decrease in public welfare due to privatisation. The health and education sector saw the worst of it.
The policies implemented by Modi are different than the others. Even if our forefathers had these in their minds, this was the first time that they were implemented properly. With problems like these, one is forced to think about the consequences of some policies. All in all, Gujarat is not a perfect place as pro-BJP supporters perceive it to be, but it’s better than many other states who we consider as developed and progressive.