India's economic powerhouse has been touted as the model to emulate, but has the state done enough to ensure the holistic development of its people? Gujarat ranks at the top for ease of doing business but it lags behind in key HDI indicators like child undernourishment and child mortality. What really should be the issues to consider for the voter in Gujarat?
- It is the sixth largest Indian state by area and the ninth largest state by population.
- The economy of Gujarat is the fifth-largest state economy in India with ₹14.96 lakh crore (US$210 billion) in gross domestic product and a per capita GDP of ₹157,000 (US$2,200).
- The first capital of Gujarat was Ahmedabad; the capital was moved to Gandhinagar in 1970.
- Nav Nirman Andolan was a socio-political movement of 1974. It was a students' and middle-class people's movement against economic crisis and corruption in public life. This was was the first and last successful agitation after the Independence of India that ousted an elected government.
- HDI of 0.667 which is disproportionately low for its per capita income and overall state GDP.
- Surat, a major financial centre, is the fastest growing city on the planet, with a diverse set of industries powering the development of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial corridor
After Indian independence and the partition of India in 1947, the new Indian government grouped the former princely states of Gujarat into three larger units; Saurashtra, which included the former princely states on the Kathiawad peninsula, Kutch, and Bombay state, which included the former British districts of Bombay Presidency together with most of Baroda state and the other former princely states of eastern Gujarat.
1) Child health: Despite its high income, access to education and infrastructure, the state records one of the highest levels of child malnutrition in the country. Coupled with the lack of medical facilities and high child mortality rate, Gujarat needs to concentrate on establishing a sound base for its future citizens. Gujarat’s massive economic success has not percolated to its social development, and this is a startling roadblock to the development of the state and the country.
2) Demographic imbalance: Gujarat’s sex ratio is 918 females to 1000 males, one of the lowest in the country, just above the worst performing state, Haryana. Although the impact of a demographic imbalance is not felt immediately, this does not hold good for the future of the state which will require a robust, young population growing at a sustainable rate. Coupled with a high child mortality rate, sex-selective abortions are the leading causes of the skewed sex ratio.
3) Education: Gujarat hosts many of the country’s leading educational institutions across various fields. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) and the University of Gujarat lead the sector in reputation and student enrolment, but the state lacks a strong primary education performance. The state suffers from low primary school enrolment despite several local and national-level education programs.
Our assessment is that Gujarat status as an economic powerhouse is undisputed but it lacks the desired improvement in key human development factors which deny it a robust, educated and healthy population. We believe that the BJP’s sweep of all 26 Lok Sabha Seats in the state during the 2014 elections will not be repeated due to a late swing towards the INC, largely due to the poor performance of PM Modi’s successor Anandiben Patel as Chief Minister.