The 16th Lok Sabha general elections would be known and remembered for long, not for the “one” who emerges as the winner (pun intended), but as the one which stoked a marked interest in the country’s politics and caused a nationwide flurry. A fraction of the credit for this, which none can deny, goes to the emergence of one Aam Aadmi Party. But a larger fraction would nonetheless be claimed by none other than Mr. Narendra Modi, who has come up as the popular savior of the majority in this era of political, social and economic distress.
In the case of the latter so much that he can claim to have reduced the country’s fiscal problem much before he even actually came to the throne…..going by the truckloads of the FII money being offloaded daily into the country with no regards whatsoever given to the hint of an imminent interest rate hike by FED’s Janet Yellen . These foreign institutions have the Indian market now fully pumped, on account of their gradually soaring expectations of a MODI led government at the centre. And this seems justified to the analysts across the firms and around the globe, less one Credit Suisse which believes this hype to be short-lived as many (read three quarters) of the projects in abeyance today are owing to the lack of capacity and the inaction of the state gov rather than that of the central gov. In any case, that a MODI led government at the centre will result in many business-centric policies, is a fact which is as indubitable as that ‘Pappu is as immature as a politician gets’.
And rightly so. Mr. MODI’s tenure has seen Gujarat clocking a compound average growth rate of 13.4%, when the national rate stood at 7.8% for the period. He has attracted unprecedented investments in the auto manufacturing sector with Ford and Chevrolet being the latest deal takers in the state. It also boasts of the largest port in the country by volume (the one run by Gautam Adani).
But in reality, what good is economic expansion if not employed for the betterment and up-lifting of the lives of its people. What many seem to miss (perhaps overlook) is the terrible level of the human development parameters, which cannot be justified for a state which has outstripped the national economic growth rate by around 75%. The state has a pathetic sex ratio of 918 when the national average is 940 (which itself is pathetic). Also the state ranks 25th with respect to the infant mortality rate and 20th with respect to vaccination coverage (Source- 2011 census), but ranks 4th in gender bias against girl children health (Source-Centre for Economic Studies & Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University 2008) and 6th in the number of farmer suicides (Source- National Crime Records Bureau 2012). Also the previous National Family Health Survey (NFHS 3, 2005-06) ranked Gujarat as the state with most percentage of children aged 5-14 engaged in labor ( go.. check out yourselves).
Mr. Modi never hesitates but often goes out of his way to support the corporate. Adani Group has an SEZ in the Gulf of Kutch region where it was allotted lands at rates as trivial as 1-45 cents per sq meter. What’s preposterous is this is now being sub-let by the Adani Group, for as high as $11 per square meter, to other companies one of which is the state owned Indian Oil Co. (Source- Forbes India article by Megha Bahree). One may refer to the aforementioned source to read in depth about the deplorable impacts on the ground water, agriculture and fisheries in this region, courtesy the formidable chimneys and the power plants that now mark this region. Also the SEZ was in controversy for unlawfully expanding onto farmers’ land, and even declared illegal by Gujarat High court for environmental violations, though the final decision is now pending with the Central Government and no hopes for that appear until after the elections.
The point being that, the BJP and the pro-MODIs have been campaigning for Mr. Modi relentlessly, while trying to score on the development model in Gujarat. But what they seem to omit (some purposefully & others bcoz they have no idea) is that the development has been not for, but at the expense of the populace. BJP and the pro-Modi electorate often tends to conveniently overlook this fact, while claiming corporate development to be the panacea for all that’s wrong, which clearly isn’t and is ironically (and amusingly) evident from the status quo in Gujarat.
By Neelesh Agrawal