Across the aisle by P Chidambaram: Gujarat: A model not to follow | The Financial Express
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Across the aisle by P Chidambaram: Gujarat: A model not to follow

Unfortunately, the people of the world will not have an opportunity to vote on the other claim. I suppose it is their misfortune.

Across the aisle by P Chidambaram: Gujarat: A model not to follow
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo credit: PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited Gujarat several times since October and he is expected to pay more visits in November before the state goes to elections on December 1 and 5. He has held programmes in practically every one of the 33 districts of Gujarat. As long as the Election Commission was indulgent, the PM was on an ‘inaugural’ spree. These were billed as ‘official’ events, but there was nothing ‘official’ about the contents of the PM’s speeches. In all his speeches (in Gujarat, elsewhere in India and even abroad) there is one recurring theme: the history of modern, resurgent India began in 2014. By the same reasoning, the history of modern, resurgent Gujarat began in 2001. If there is something jarring in those statements (Gujarat, even before India?), I leave it to you to crack the puzzle.

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According to the PM, Gujarat is the model for India. He is one step away from claiming that India is the model for the world. The people of Gujarat will vote on the PM’s claim in early December. Unfortunately, the people of the world will not have an opportunity to vote on the other claim. I suppose it is their misfortune.

Not to be envied

Let’ s examine the Gujarat Model. I noticed some unique features:

  • The BJP government has been in power but, since 2016, there have been three chief ministers. Among the three, the longest serving was Mr Vijay Rupani — from 2016 to 2021 — but he left such an indelible mark that he was unceremoniously removed from office along with his entire Council of Ministers. ‘Revolving door chief ministers’ is the preferred model for modern, resurgent Gujarat (precedents: Karnataka, Uttarakhand).

* Another feature of the Gujarat model is the ‘double engine’ government. You may think the double engines are ‘PM & CM’. You are wrong. The double engines are ‘PM & HM’. Nothing moves in Gujarat unless the double engines are fired. When the rest of India follows the Gujarat model, we can get rid of state governments, and get rid of the states as well, and create ‘One India, One Government’.

Also Read: Across the aisle by P Chidambaram: Blessed are the poor (but not all)

Pride in decline

  • A notable feature of the Gujarat model is declining growth rates, but ascending Gujarati pride. The state GDP’s growth rates in four years have been the following:

2017-18: 10.7%, 2018-19: 8.9, 2019-20: 7.3 and 2020-21: -1.9. You may ask if the All India GDP’s growth rates were on the decline since 2017-18. The answer is ‘of course, yes’. It is because India emulated the Gujarat model. If post-pandemic, there was a bounce in Gujarat’s GSDP of 2021-22, there was a bounce in the All India GDP too. What Gujarat did yesterday, India will do tomorrow.

  • Another feature that India will adopt is the principle of ‘No apology, no resignation’. The Morbi bridge’s collapse killed 135 people including 53 children. The scale of the tragedy did not call for the PM to address the media and take questions. The High Court pointed out that there was a one and one-quarter page agreement; no Expression of Interest; no tender; no pre-qualifications; no competitive bids; no conditions; no fitness certificate after the bridge got a fresh coat of paint (so-called repair); and yet the bridge was opened to the public. As a principle, Gujarat believes in ‘no apologies and no resignations’. In the future, India too will follow this principled principle of no accountability.
  • Like a pride of lions (preferably from the Gir forest), there is pride in numbers. The numbers enhance Gujarati asmita (pride). For example, look at this table of promised investment and actual investment in Gujarat:

India’s asmita too will be enhanced as the gap widens between promise and reality.

Women, youth and children

  • Gujarat is a Model of how (not) to treat women, starting with the girl child. The sex ratio (female to male) is 919 as against the All India average of 943. While the Labour Participation Rate (LPF) is 41.0%, the LPF for females is 23.4%. Where are the missing girl children? And if they survive, 76% do not work outside their homes.
  • The Gujarat Model does not burden youth with work. The unemployment rate among youth aged 20-24 years is 12.49%. They are well-rested before the elections.
  • Gujarat is a Model of (not) caring for children, their nutrition and their health. Among children, 39% are stunted and 39.7% are underweight. Wasted children amount to 25.1%. In these indicators, Gujarat ranks between 26 and 29 among the 30 states of India.
  • The Gujarat Model faithfully followed the RSS’ dictum that ‘all Indians living in this country are Hindus’. Consequently, Muslims constituting 9.67% of the state’s population are Hindus. Therefore, under the Gujarat Model, the BJP has not fielded a Muslim candidate (in 182 seats) in the quinquennial Assembly elections since 1995.

The Gujarat Model must be exported to other states and other countries as well. A vote for the Gujarat Model will ensure those goals are achieved. Amen.

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First published on: 20-11-2022 at 05:45 IST