reported in my most recent article (and not mentioned by the PC sceptics) is the fact that almost every disadvantaged group in Gujarat reports near identical declines in the poverty rate between FY00 and FY12—about 30 percentage points. Thus, it appears that several statistical criteria favour rejecting the estimate provided by the FY10 NSS data. In addition, note that the only reason there was a large sample survey in FY12 was because FY10 was considered untrustworthy by the government for two valid reasons—it was both a drought year and a global financial crisis year.
One final calculation remains. It is well recognised that reduction of poverty from 50 to 30 ppt is a lot easier than an equivalent 20 ppt reduction from 30 to 10 ppt. In other words, for assessment of poverty decline, the initial level of poverty matters. One method of evaluating poverty reduction is to look at the percent declines in the poverty ratio. The table reports such percentage declines for all states in India with Muslim populations of above-6% and for the period FY05 to FY12. This later time-period is chosen to make comparisons with Bihar possible (calculations for FY00 to FY12 yield the same qualitative results and rankings for Gujarat). For Muslims, Gujarat had the third-highest decline among 15 states in the country and for SCs and STs, the eighth-highest decline. For the disadvantaged groups together, Gujarat’s rank is 6th (not shown in the accompanying table) and 7th for the OBCs. Modi’s political, governance and growth comparator and competitor Nitish Kumar obtains the following disappointing rankings: 9th for both Muslims and SCs and STs, 11th for the disadvantaged and 10th for OBCs.
There are several other pieces of information that can, should, and will be examined in the future. The discussion about poverty decline is a humble start towards a more desirable debate about the economic governance of the different prime ministerial candidates.
The author is chairman, Oxus Investments, and a senior advisor to Zyfin, a leading financial information company. Twitter: @surjitbhalla