Gujarat looks at marketing human development now
Gujarat officials seem to have turned their attention to countering the oft-made charge that the state - while high in growth - is lagging behind in social indicators and human development.
A top Gujarat official, sources say, has already circulated a presentation – meant to be circulated to the media and also to be used in debates - seeking to establish that Gujarat's performance in social indicators in 2011 is better than what it was in 2001.
The state's charge is that the Planning Commission and "anti-Gujarat" voices have smartly chosen not to mention the 1991-2001 figures while highlighting the 2001-2011 figures.
Interestingly, when Gujarat officials take 2001 and not 1991 as the benchmark, they also obliquely argue that Modi has outperformed BJP governments in the 1990s.
Between 1991 and 2001 – the note says - literacy rose by 13% in India but just 8% in Gujarat, but in 2001-11 (the Modi period), it rose by 8.6% in India but 10% in Gujarat. As regards female education, India showed a 15% rise in 1991-2001 but Gujarat just 9%. In 2001-11, however, the rise was 11.3% for India as a whole but 13% for Gujarat.
The note states that drop-out rates from class 1 to 5 have come down drastically in Gujarat from 21% to 2% from 1991-2001 to 2001-11. It adds that while the infant mortality (IMR) and maternal mortality (MMR) rates in Gujarat were higher than the national average up to 1981, they fell after that, with 31.7% decrease from 2001 and 2011.
In MMR, a key indicator of maternal health, the note says, Gujarat achieved the millennium development goals' target of reducing it by three-quarters in 2007-09, just three years after human development leader Kerala.
The note also looks at sex ratio, an area where Gujarat has in fact slid in the last decade as per census data. However, it claims that in terms of sex ratio at birth (number of live female births per 1000 live male births), Gujarat has posted a 72-point improvement against the 12-point improvement for India.
As for the charge that Gujarat slid from number-6 in HDI index in 1991 to number-11 in 2007-08, the note says this is because "smaller states were not included" till 1991. It shows that most states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu slid in like manner post-1991.
However, the note has one problem: it doesn't segment the data in rural/urban and general/SC/ST/Muslim brackets, which makes it difficult to find out whether the figures are skewed in favour of some sections of the population.
The note's conclusion: increased growth leads to better social indicators – roughly the argument made by eminent economist Jagadish Bhagwati in his debate with Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.
"The progress in the last decade has amply shown that economic growth is necessary for social development," the Gujarat official's note says.