As parties gear up for polls, India’s two most talked about non-Congress ruled states — Gujarat and Bihar — have been rated as having lesser spending inequality as compared to most other states of the country.
A new government study ranks Gujarat as the state having least inequality in urban areas except four north-eastern states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram. For rural areas, Bihar earns the top slot after Meghalaya, Nagaland and Sikkim.
The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) study comes at the time when development models of both Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has been under intense public debate.
Modi has been showcasing the Gujarat developmental model across India in his election campaign with Aam Aadmi Party’s convenor Arvind Kejriwal raising questions on the same.
The NSSO study indicates that Nitish Kumar’s model of inclusive growth has brought dividends. In fact, Bihar’s ranking has improved in the last decade as it did better than some other backward states such as Odisha and Jharkhand.
The report could also provide electoral ammunition to both Modi and Nitish as inequality in both rural and urban area for India has increased between 2004-05 and 2011-12. The study shows that inequality ratio has increased from 0.297 to .307 in rural areas and from 0.373 to 0.385 in urban areas.
Unlike the common perception that rising food prices had pinched pockets of the poor and the middle-class, the study depicts a different picture. More than food-cost rise, the cost of education and health upset families’ monthly budgets.
In just two years — 2009 and 2010 — the burden of education increased by about 10% and of non-institutional medical by about 19%. The hike was almost same as increase in cost of these services over a period of six years between 2004-05 and 2009-10.