Madhya Pradesh: India's beating heart

India's geographic centre is reflective of the many problems the country faces. Despite the sustained, fast-paced economic growth, key human development indicators remain unimpressive and represent a growth-centric economic model over a development-oriented approach. What do voters in 'Hindustan Ka Dil ' need to know before the polls?

Background

  • Rich in mineral resources, MP has the largest reserves of diamond and copper in India.
  • More than 30% of its area is under forest cover, one of the highest proportions in the country.
  • The second largest Indian state by area and the fifth largest state by population with over 75 million residents.
  • This state was the largest in India by area until 2000 when its south-eastern Chhattisgarh region was made as a separate state.
  • The state's GDP growth has been above the national average based on strong land and economic reform programs.
  • Madhya Pradesh has six Ordnance Factories, four of which are located at Jabalpur and one each at Katni and Itarsi. The factories are run by the Ordnance Factories Board, and manufacture a variety of products for the Indian Armed Forces.

Profile

Madhya Pradesh state was created with Nagpur as its capital - this state included the southern parts of the present-day Madhya Pradesh and north-eastern portion of today's Maharashtra. In 1956, this state was reorganised and its parts were combined with the states of Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal to form the new Madhya Pradesh state, the Marathi-speaking Vidarbha region was removed and merged with the then Bombay State. This state was the largest in India by area until 2000 when its south-eastern Chhattisgarh region was made as a separate state.

The dominant political parties in the state are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress. Unlike in many of the neighbouring states, the small or regional parties have not had much success in the state elections.

1) Environment: The state’s most successful environmental conservation program has been the Namami Devi Narmade which was a state-wide march for a reforestation campaign along the banks of the river Narmada. Apart from this, the state has made little progress. Madhya Pradesh has a vast deposit of copper and other minerals which make a bulk of the state’s economic output. These minerals also require surface mining to obtain, thereby uprooting entire local ecosystems and polluting several natural resources. The state needs to develop a practical, sustainable economic model which takes into account the fragility of its environment. The river Narmada already has numerous dams varying in sizes; therefore, MP needs to pivot away from a dependence on thermal and hydropower.

2) Inclusive development: Due to the different linguistic, cultural and geographical environment and its peculiar complications, the diverse tribal world of Madhya Pradesh has been largely cut off from the mainstream of development. Madhya Pradesh ranks very low on the Human Development Index value of 0.594 which is below the national average. The malnutrition situation in Madhya Pradesh was "extremely alarming", receiving a severity rating between Ethiopia and Chad. The state is also the worst performer in India when it comes to female foeticides.

3) Diversification: The state has a largely agrarian economy. The major crops of Madhya Pradesh are wheat, soybean, gram, sugarcane, rice, maize, cotton, rapeseed, mustard and arhar. Minor Forest Produce (MFP), such as tendu leaves used to roll beedi, sal seed, teak seed, and lak also contribute to the state's rural economy. With only five Special Economic Zone (SEZs), the state has not been successful in inviting foreign investors nor has it received any significant domestic investments. The state has to reform its labour laws to better accommodate the economy of the future, which will see a shift from the dominant agrarian system to more services and industries based economy.

Assessment

Our assessment is that M.P. has shown tremendous growth over the past two decades but unfortunately, the economic success hasn’t trickled down to the people, many of whom are disconnected from mainstream development. We believe that the recently elected Kamal Nath-led Congress government has started off on the wrong foot with a massive allegation of corruption. We feel this will bury the real concerns of the state under a mountain of political vendetta. We also feel that M.P.’s sizeable Lok Sabha seats are all under stiff competition, with no clear winner, unlike the 2014 Elections. The BJP is expected to sustain a few losses in Central India and we believe that M.P. will see a turn in the tide of state-wide vote shares for the two national parties.

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