Modi speaks at a rally in Tiruchi on Thursday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Sept. 26: An expert panel has ranked Gujarat 12th among states in development, its findings flying in the face of Narendra Modi’s claims but winning endorsement from economists The Telegraph spoke to.
The committee, headed by Raghuram Rajan who has since been appointed Reserve Bank governor, assessed states on the basis of 10 criteria, which included many human development indicators. Bengal came 16th.
Economist and Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen, who was not involved in the study, stressed the often-made point that Gujarat’s performance on the human development indicators (HDI) did not match its growth rates.
“The growth rate of the state is good. It has attracted industrial investment and registered agricultural growth. But in HDI like infant mortality, it is on a par with Bihar,” Sen said.
“If you look at HDI data from Gujarat, you will see a large difference between the levels of development of tribals and non-tribals, and between those of urban and rural people. When the state-level average is worked out, the overall score (of Gujarat) would fall short of those of several other states,” he said.
The Committee for Evolving Composite Development Index of States awarded each state a score on the basis of its performance relating to 10 criteria. These were: per capita consumption expenditure, education, health, household amenities, poverty rate, female literacy, percentage of Dalit and tribal populations, urbanisation, financial inclusion, and connectivity.
The committee put 10 states in the category of “least developed” and labelled the six best-performing states as “relatively developed”. The 12 states in between, including Gujarat and Bengal, have been branded “less developed”.
Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Tripura did better than Gujarat — whose chief minister loves to flaunt his development model as he pursues his national ambitions — while Mizoram and Jammu and Kashmir outdid Bengal.
Indian Council of Social Science Research chairman Sukhadeo Thorat, an economist not linked to the Rajan panel’s exercise, said the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and backward classes lagged behind in Gujarat. He advocated a more inclusive growth model for the state.
“It is not necessary that growth will automatically trickle down to the poor. A pro-poor strategy should be embedded in the growth strategy. Gujarat needs to model its growth in such a manner that the tribals, Dalits and poor Other Backward Classes are also able to benefit,” Thorat said.
V.S. Vyas, chairperson of Ajit Foundation, an NGO working on basic health and education in Rajasthan, questioned the report’s ranking of Rajasthan among the worst performers.
“I cannot talk about Gujarat, but I do not think Rajasthan should figure among the least developed states. I think they may have used old data or there may be something wrong in their criteria,” Vyas said.
]This newspaper tried to contact Gujarat’s additional chief secretary, S.K. Nanda, and principal secretary for information and broadcasting, G.C. Murmu, for their reaction. Calls to their mobiles went unanswered.
The Rajan panel’s report has been submitted to Union finance minister P. Chidambaram.