Speaking to US NRIs yesterday, Modi claimed that the growth rate in India had “lost momentum” in the last 6-7 years. Well, Modi is used to dishing out mis-truths and blatant lies; so this was just one more in a series. India’s growth in the last 6-7 years has been exemplary by any standard, with GDP growth hitting 9.2% just last year.
Let me group all of Modi’s lies into 5 distinct categories:
1) Comparing Gujarat with India: Even a 5th standard student knows what averages are. India’s GDP growth represents the average of all states – dynamic ones like Gujarat, Maharashtra, AP, Haryana and TN as well as poor performing ones like Rajasthan, UP, MP, Karnataka, and (in the past), Bihar and Orissa. Quite obviously Gujarat growth rate will be higher than India’s. When Modi uses this to show that he would make a better PM than Manmohan Singh, it’s plain chicanery. What he should do is compare Gujarat – a powerhouse since decades – with other powerhouse states. But he’s smart. He won’t do that!
2) Gujarat growth barely comparable with other big states: The top 5 states in terms of state GDP are Maharashtra, UP, AP, TN and Gujarat in that order. Modi will be embarrassed to note that the pecking order of these states has remained largely intact over the last 6-7 years (since 2004-5) – in spite of Modi’s “dynamic” rule. The only exception is that WB used to be 5th back then, and is now just behind Gujarat. Let’s look at how much each state economy has expanded over this period and I am using data from Wikipedia here (which in turn quotes the Ministry of statistics and Program Implementation Govt. Of India). Between 2004-5 and 2010-11, the Maharashtra GDP has expanded 2.49 times in nominal terms, Gujarat’s by 2.52 times, Tamil Nadu’s by 2.50 times, UP’s by 2.28 times, AP’s by 2.62 times and West Bengal’s by 2.27 times. So Gujarat has kept pace with the big states; nothing more, nothing less. Compared to the noise that Modi makes, the actual numbers are nothing to write home!
3) Takes undue credit: Gujaratis are genetic coded to demand that any CM of the state has to be business minded. Remember Gujarat is a state in which college graduates take up jobs only when they cannot start their own business. And even when they do jobs, almost all of them do something “on the side”. It may be playing the stock market, or doing a small side business in the wife’s name. Growth in Gujarat pre-dates Modi. This is proven by the growth rates recorded during the tenures of the previous CMs. For the purpose of this analysis, I have used Net State Domestic Product at factor cost at constant prices in Rupees as the measure of economic growth. The data taken is from the RBI’s “Handbook of Statistics of Indian Economy” readily available on the internet. Under Modi (between 2002-3 to 2009-10), the average growth rate in Gujarat in nominal terms has been 16.25% per annum. In the Keshubhai Patel era (1998-99 to 2001-02), Gujarat grew at only 7.5% per annum. BJP messed up during Keshubhai’s time and that’s one reason he was replaced. Take the period before Keshubhai Patel. There was a period of rapid changes in CMs in Gujarat between 94-95 and 98-99; the BJP, Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Party ruled the state and achieved between 14% and 31% growth rates. The previous strongman of Gujarat used to be Chimanbhai Patel who ruled as CM from 1990-91 to 1993-94. The growth rate during his period was 16.75%. Err…..higher than what Modi achieved. Prior to Chimanbhai Patel was the rule of the Congress for 10 years from 1980-81 to 1989-90. During this period of time, Madhvsinh Solanki and Amarsingh Chaudhary were the Congress CMs in the state. The growth rate during these ten years was 14.8% - a shade lower than Modi’s achievements. Remember back then, India wasn’t quite the dynamic growth engine it is today. Modi can surely take credit for sustaining Gujarat’s growth; but he cannot claim to be the diva of India’s growth miracle!
4) Vibrant Gujarat: The biggest lie that Modi dishes out is Vibrant Gujarat. Modi talks of “lacs of crores” of investments “promised” to the state. But promises have not translated into actual investments. A recent report shows that not even 20% of that investment has actually materialized over the last 4 years. The Tatas, the Ambanis, all claim to love Modi and Gujarat and they heap praise on him. They realize Modi loves such public encomium and these business leaders are smart enough to give him that. But they also love Prithviraj Chavan and Maharashtra, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Haryana, Jayalalitha/Karunanidhi and TN and whoever it is in AP. Businessmen want pragmatic governance and all these states offer that. The only difference is that these states are quiet performers, while Modi croons from the roof top.
5) Hides all non-GDP data: And the last lie of course is that by talking only about GDP growth, Modi diverts attention from everything else. Be it is his communal record (he hasn’t apologized for the post-Godhra riots, or for the fake encounter killings), or his state’s data on Human Development Indices (The HDI for Gujarat, in 2008, was 0.527 and it ranked 10th among major states), or social indicators (In Gujarat, the Life Expectance at Birth during 2002-06 was 64.1 years and it ranked ninth among major Indian states. In the areas of Mean Years of Schooling and School Life Expectancy, during 2004-05, it ranked seventh and ninth, respectively. Kerala ranked first in all three indicators. Even Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka performed much better than Gujarat (source: Gujarat: Myth and reality: Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar Jun 12, 2012, TOI online edition), Gujarat is a laggard. This is what prompted Chidambaram to state in his budget speech that this is not the growth model that the UPA wants to practice.
The real truth is that the Gujarat economic story has to be narrated correctly. The public has to know the real truth. Even if it takes a hundred such posts. Of course Gujarat is a developed state; just as developed as Maharashtra, AP, Haryana and TN. That’s why people come back impressed from Ahmedabad. But is Modi being truthful by claiming credit for all this? No way. In fact, he is lying through his teeth. And its time the lies are exposed….