As Godhra completes ten years of grief (and Modi completed his a few months back in October 2011), it’s time to look at how Modi’s tenure really has been. The two most often discussed topics in this context tend to be the “economic miracle” that is Gujarat and the communal state of affairs in the state. Modi’s supporters like to tom-tom the former; his detractors the latter.
Let’s take the economic progress first. I first wrote about this on September 17th last year when Modi started his government funded sadbhavna fast in Ahmedabad (Modi’s growth story is a sham). Source of data: For the purpose of analyzing the economic progress under Modi and previous CMs, I had used data from the RBI’s website (readily available at http://tinyurl.com/722ogc3). The data needs to be understood correctly since the growth numbers are higher than what we usually hear. I have used Net State Domestic Product at factor cost at constant prices in Rupees as the measure of economic growth. By using “at factor cost”, we eliminate the effect of taxes. By using “at constant prices”, we eliminate the effect of inflation. And by using “in Rupees”, we eliminate the impact of the $: Re exchange rate. Further, to calculate the average growth rate during a period under consideration, I have used a “simple average” of the growth rates of each year during that period. Whatever method I have used, I have used it evenly for all periods of time under all governments.
What does the data indicate? Check it out for yourself.
Annual growth under Modi (2002-3 to 2010-11) – average 16.25% per annum
Annual growth under Keshubhai Patel (1998-99 to 2002-3) – average 7.5% p.a
Annual growth under Chimanbhai Patel (1990-91 to 1993-94) – average 16.75% p.a
Annual growth under previous Congress CMs (1980-81 to 1989-90) – average 14.8% p.a
So quite clearly, Gujarat under Modi has done well. In fact, Gujarat has done better than all of India put together (14% during the period of Modi’s rule in Gujarat). Nothing surprising in both these facts really. Gujarat is a prosperous state. And India’s average is pulled down by many of the lower performing states across the country.
But just compare Modi’s results with the results in the state since 1980-81 and the truth becomes apparent. Gujarat has always been performing well (except for the period when Keshubhai was ruling). The high growth rate of Gujarat has nothing to do with Modi. Modi has merely continued the work of previous Congress CMs. In fact, a CM who doesn’t deliver economic growth in Gujarat will be booted out – as Keshubhai learnt.
So that the data can be compared effectively, let’s look at growth from other states as well.
Maharashtra – during the same period as Modi – 15.5% per annum
Haryana – last five years under Congress – 18% per annum
AP – Since 2004-5 under Congress – 16% per annum
Again, the data proves that Modi’s performance is hardly exceptional. There are many other states that have done well. I have pointed out the Congress states above since most political tussles on Gujarat happen between the BJP and the Congress. Gujarat is one state that the BJP can be truly proud of – how can it allow the Congress to puncture its story in this state?!
Other commentators have also written the real truth about Gujarat. Sample this from Dipankar Gupta on 6th October, 2011 in TOI, a few days after Bapu’s birthday….
“Telling the Whole story” is an amazingly well written piece on how the Congress has led Narendra Modi get away with claiming all the credit for Gujarat’s progress. The article brings out several stats to prove what I have also written earlier. Some nuggets: 1) In 1991, a full 10 years before Modi arrived, as many as 17,940 out of 18,028 villages were already electrified 2) 87.5% of Gujarat’s road were already asphalted before Modi. 3) By 2000-01, Gujarat’s share in India’s manufacturing had already risen to 28.7%. 4) Since 1980, Gujarat has been India’s poster state. Modi has nothing to do with the world’s largest ship-breaking yard coming up in Bhavnagar, nor with the setting up of the Ambani refinery in Jamnagar. 5) Well before Modi, Gujarat accounted for 45% of India’s petroleum products 6) Since the 1990s, Gujarat produces as much as 26% of the country’s pharmaceuticals 7) Because of the CM Chimanbhai Patel’s intervention in 1993, port traffic in the state jumped from a mere 3.18 million tonnes tonnes in1981 to 86.1 million tonnes in 2001. 8) During the 1990s, Gujarat successfully augmented 35% of its power generation capacity. 9) If Gujarat’s agriculture is prospering today, it is because the state has begun to receive Sardar Sarovar waters from 2002. Modi had little to do with the inauguration of this project, but he was at the right place at the right time to take the credit for it. If there was ever a person who reaped what somebody else had sown, then that is Modi. 10) It is not as if Gujarat is the richest state either; Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Kerala are all much better off…..
Here is the truth about agricultural growth in Gujarat – another point that Modi never fails to make: Gujarat’s agricultural output is so small that even a high growth rate in agriculture means little. Even today, after the tripling of production, overall foodgrains production in Gujarat is just 7.8 million tonnes. Compare this with UP (47 million tonnes), Punjab (27 million), Rajasthan (19 million), Haryana (16 million), Andhra (16 million), Maharashtra (15 million), Madhya Pradesh (15 million), West Bengal (14 million), Karnataka (13 million) and even lowly Bihar (10 million), and Gujarat’s growth number starts looking pale. Gujarat’s foodgrains production is just about comparable with Orissa’s and Chhatisgarh – a number that must surely irk Modi supporters.
Talk about social metrics of progress and Gujarat again starts to falter. So while Modi’s economic story is not bad, there is nothing that he can singularly take credit for.
Now let’s come to the other subject. Modi likes to claim that there have been no riots under Modi’s tenure since 2002 when Godhra happened. This is factually 100% correct. But putting this in the correct context would help in the understanding the truth. There have only been two major riots in India since 1992 in fact – one was Godhra and the other was the riots that followed the Babri masjid demolition. Both of these are attributable to the BJP. There were also riots in Malegaon – again there is a suspicion about saffron terror. Besides, there have been innumerable ‘encounters’ that have taken place in Gujarat right under Modi’s nose – and not surprisingly, all of them have targeted the minorities in the state.
Sanjiv Bhatt was on Times Now last night making a point that Gujarat has become a “Gestapo state”. Since I come from Gujarat and go there many times every year even today, I can tell you this is certainly not true. There is no extra-high visibility of the police forces in any of the cities of Gujarat. However, this does not mean that Modi has brought about communal harmony. The fact is that Modi has managed to polarize the entire Hindu population of Gujarat. Again, from personal experience, I can say that most middle class urban people in Gujarat support Modi strongly – since he’s taught them (the Muslims) to stay within “limits”. He’s shown them “their place”. Modi is going to win the state elections later this year very comfortably. The Congress doesn’t even stand a small chance. Modi must be truly proud. He’s been given the title of “Hindu Hriday Samrat” by the Hindus of Gujarat!
The real truth is that Gujarat (and following in its footsteps, MP) are “successful” BJP experiments. Successful because the party has managed to polarize the voters…..to make the majority count and assert itself over the minority. It’s the worst possible interpretation of the word “majority” in the context of democracy. The BJP knows Modi's limitations - and so decided against using him in either UP or Bihar campaigns.....