Punjab has done it again: it has been rated the best state in terms of quality of life and work by a survey carried out by a leading newsmagazine.
Kerala has retained its second position among the top performers in the fourth annual 'State of the States' report published by India Today in its latest issue.
The 20 big states - those with area greater than 35,000 km and population more than 5 million - and 10 small states have been evaluated on the basis of eight criteria: budget and prosperity, agriculture, consumer markets, primary education, primary health, law and order, infrastructure and investment environment.
Pondicherry has emerged as the top performer outstripping Goa (the best small state last year) and Delhi (the second top performer last year).
Madhya Pradesh has been recognised as the fastest mover - a new category introduced in the survey this year that include states that are low in overall ranking but are making a discernible effort to catch up with top ranked states, said Aroon Purie, editor-in-chief of India Today.
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam presented awards to top performing states at a function here, which was attended by chief ministers of over a dozen states Friday evening.
The survey is not, however, a measure of investment attractiveness of states, clarified Purie. If India has to succeed, it has to depend on the performance of states, he added.
Each of these includes six-eight key variables (with a total of 49 variables) that track the performance of states, explained economists Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari who conducted the survey this year.
The chief ministers of various states, including Amarinder Singh of Punjab, Mulayam Singh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh, Naveen Patnaik of Orissa, Virbhadra Singh of Himachal Pradesh, later participated in a discussion focusing on the centre-state relations and different facets of their states' socio-economic development.
In terms of infrastructure development, the survey points out that Orissa has registered the biggest change over 2005 while Delhi has posted the biggest drop. Delhi continues to be India's most coveted consumer market with score twice that of Punjab.
In the field of primary education, the situation is uniformly grim and uninspiring. The survey shows 24 states and union territories post a fall over 2005 score, underlining the urgency of expanding primary education across the country.
Punjab' top-rate performance across a wide array of developmental indicators struck some as intriguing as it is the state that continues to record the highest number of female infanticides.
These paradoxical findings, according to Purie, reveal "the true face of India, how fast the country is changing, where it is changing, the leaders and the laggards and the new priorities and challenges confronting our chief ministers".