Playing to the gallery, invoking growth, development and communal harmony that Gujarat has achieved in his 10-year-long reign, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi began his three day 'sadbhavna' fast for peace and harmony in Ahmedabad on Saturday. He dropped Vibrant Gujarat from his lexicon and instead harped on the following:
"2002 was an aberration... The day is not far, when the people in and outside India will have to discuss about that model of Gujarat where along with peace, unity and brotherhood, everyone's development would take place. "
So let’s examine the validity of these claims.1. COMMUNAL PEACE
Nicknamed the butcher of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, the infamous Chief Minister of Gujarat, has had a full 9 years of near complete immunity and full reign over his state in India despite overseeing a near holocaust of Muslims in 2002. With his implicit and sometimes explicit permission, Hindu nationalists slaughtered, raped and displaced Muslim men, women and children.
Now Modi claimed that his government had tried to bring normalcy in the state in the 2002 communal riots:
"Innocent people were killed, atmosphere was tense and emotions were running high. The wounds were deep and people said that Gujarat cannot develop now. But people have forgotten the past and development is now the mantra....
“The communal killings of 2002 still haunt Gujarat. Not only were the camps for the riot-affected closed down with unseemly haste but the ghettoisation of the minority community continues because of the general sense of insecurity. Though it is common to hear it being said that “Muslims have moved on”, the scars are still fresh for the community....If they have “moved on”, it is because they have had to, not because they were assisted or encouraged to. There are huge advertisements and posters of Modi's meeting with Muslim leaders, but within the community this is seen for what it is – buying of peace....In a study titled “Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio-Religious Differentials”, says, “Empirical evidence suggests that relative to other States and relative to other communities, Muslims in Gujarat are facing high levels of discrimination and deprivation.”
(Frontline, May 7, 2011)
2. DOUBLE DIGIT GROWTH
“To deflect from these gory past, Modi claims that his "Vibrant Gujarat" model of development had been marketed as a tumultuous achievement with Gujarat The fact is that Gujarat grew at approximately 12 per cent in 2006-07 against India’s overall growth of about 8 per cent that year.”(Ground Reality)“The chief minister likes to say that the state’s growth rate is 12 percent, three percent higher than the national average of nine percent. But a report by the Gujarat government, Review of Socio-Economic Status in Gujarat: 2006-07, puts the growth rate at 8.11 percent. Besides, Gujarat is one of the highest indebted states of the country as its liability swelled from Rs 70,228 crore in 2005 to Rs 95,000 crore this year, an average of Rs 19,000 debt per citizen (Gujarat has a population of five crore).”
(Frontline, May 7, 2011)
Another blog observed:
"In 1994-1995 Gujarat surged at the rate of 13.2 per cent. There was no Narendra Modi then. In the years 1994-2001, Gujarat’s state domestic product registered a growth average of between 10 and 13 per cent. There was no Modi then either. He stepped in only at the tail end of this period and rode the momentum created by other people's sweat and tears”.
Dipankar Gupta similarly commented:
"He's not hawked his mother's pearls, he's looked after family jewels and added to them but he's not the one that set Gujarat's golden wheel spinning, it was spinning before him. This state was already among the top three in India by 1990. It took Gujarat 20 years after it was created in 1960 to climb up from the eighth rank to the third spot. Twenty years of hard work, led primarily by Congress governments, it may be added. Over 35 percent of its infrastructural augmentation for power generation happened between 1995 and 2000. If Gujarat today can show off its treasure chest, it should gratefully remember its pre-Modi past...Besides other riches, Gujarat processes 49 percent of the country’s petroleum products. It also has India’s largest shipyard in Bhavnagar, as well as the giant Reliance refineries in Jamnagar. Even on something as pedestrian as Soda Ash, Gujarat is responsible for 90 percent of India’s production. All this happened well before Modi cut his political incisors."
3. GUJARAT OFFERS THE BEST INDUSTRY CLIMATE
“So when the whole world is looking at India as its next investment destination, the next major challenge is to find out which is the best investment destination in India, and the global business leaders have found their answer in Gujarat. The most attractive investment destination in the country and the growth engine of India!”
But here too, this claim is challenged by data. The ICI ranking of states is depicted in graph. The five states with the best investment climate are Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana. Despite one of the most corrupt governments in Karnataka and a communist government in Kerala, and inspite of much shameless tom-tomming by Modi, Gujarat comes a distant third to the two southern states of Karnataka and Kerala respectively.
It may be recalled in this connection that the Asian Development Bank in 1996 had ranked Gujarat as number two in India in terms of its investment climate, it slipped to 5th place in 2005 to recover a notch or two to third place currently.
4. GUJARAT AS THE BEST FDI DESTINATION
“Ranked as the best investment destination in India - Deutsche Bank –2007”
This claim also appears falsified by data:
“In 2003, Modi initiated the Vibrant Gujarat Summit to attract investors to the State. The first time he claimed he attracted proposals worth Rs.69 crore. In 2005, he claimed Rs.1 lakh crore and progressively went higher each year - Rs.4 lakh crore in 2007, Rs.12 lakh crore in 2009 and almost Rs.21 lakh crore in 2011.The Reserve Bank of India's 10-year report from January 2000 to March 2010 on foreign direct investment put paid to the notion that Gujarat attracted the highest FDI. Maharashtra attracted FDI worth Rs.17 lakh crore during this period; New Delhi Rs.10 lakh crore and Gujarat far behind at only Rs.2.8 lakh crore.”(Ground Reality)
“In a nutshell, they get easy access to land and water wherever they want it. They also get tax exemptions for five years in which they are also exempt from labour laws. In this easy scheme of things, agricultural land is easily turned into non-agricultural land and tribal land is handed over to industries. Companies that have been polluters and have been hauled up by courts and ordered to clean up their act respond by simply moving out to new areas.....
Vibrant Gujarat operates on a straightforward principle – roll out the red carpet for big money and ensure that everything is placed at its disposal. Social indices such as health, especially of women and children; education; the status of minorities; the economic health of the middle class and the poor; jobs, livelihoods and environmental concerns are all taking a back seat in what people are beginning to call the race to help the already rich....
The beneficiaries seem to be a small and exclusive club.”
(Frontline, May 7, 2011)
Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah, social activists who wrote to Anna Hazare objecting to his endorsement of Modi’s model of development described Modi as follow:“Chief Minister who turned his back on scores of farmers who demand their right to farming as in the case of the Mahuva agitation; on tribal people who seek forest land”, and turned a “blind eye to pollution in towns and villages like Ankleshwar, Vapi, Nandesari, Vatva, Saurashtra and Kutch” and “fishing communities being deprived of their livelihood in Kutch....The success story of the two-digit growth has masked the several-digit realities of loss of livelihood, land acquisition, displacement and permanent loss of natural resources, which are treated as free goods in this process. The investment figure without the displacement and depletion of natural resources figure, and the employment figure without loss of livelihood does not make sense.”
5. GUJARAT IS ONE OF THE MOST PROSPEROUS STATES IN THE COUNTRY
Gujarat is one of the most prosperous states in India. With 4.93% population in the country, it contributes about 16% of the country's manufacturing GDP.
Kautilya in his Arthashastra says that in order to ensure this the person who governs should understand that his happiness lies in the happiness of his subjects, his welfare in their welfare. He adds, he will not consider whatever pleases him as good, but will consider what is good for their subjects as good.
(Narendra Modi: www.narendramodi.com)
90 per cent of Gujarat village roads are paved; 98 per cent of the villages are electrified, with 80 per cent of them having electrified homes and 18 hours of electricity every day; and 86 per cent have piped water supply and good phone connections, banks, post offices and bus services. But these infrastructure provisions apparently had a huge downside:
“The state has found a simple way of showing a decline in poverty figures. It has redefined poverty lines for both rural and urban areas. So you would be counted as poor in a Gujarat town if you earn Rs 541.16 a month ($0.45 a day) or less. In a Gujarat village, the figure is even lower — Rs 353.93 a month or 30 cents a day.Most of the other states, including the poor ones like Jharkhand, keep the poverty net wider. The internationally accepted figure is a dollar a day. This removes large numbers from the BPL list and prevents them from receiving the benefits of poverty alleviation and development programmes.”
(Frontline, May 7, 2011)
Despite all the “spectacular development” almost 10 years of Narendra Modi 93% of the Gujarat’s labour force remains within the informal economy. How can any such economy be prosperous? The informal economy offers no work security; irregular work; and do not conform to labour laws and hence no labour rights; no guarantee to regular employment; exploitative labour; poor safety standards etc. This is one of the reasons that makes Gujarat a corporate and multi-national darling.The fact remains real per capita growth rate was much higher during the Congress government. In 1994-95 the real per capita income growth rate was 20; in 2004-05 it was a mere 5, and in 2005-06 it was 15 and thereafter slipped a notch or two. The Suresh P. Tendulkar Committee appointed by the Planning Commission, Modhwadia estimated that 31.8 per cent of the State's population lived below the poverty line. This meant that Gujarat had one of the highest percentages of poor people and one of the highest suicide rates in the country.Vibrant Gujarat also remains at the bottom of the pile of the Human Development Index. Gujarat is 13th on the Indian list, below Haiti which is ranked 69. So despite double digit overall economic and agricultural growth, Modi’s “Vibrant Gujarat” is at the same level as Orissa in the HDI! Hunger, disease and death are chronic in the villages. A National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) study observed:“Gujarat fares better on direct income measures, but this apparent prosperity masks higher poverty levels and a much lower ranking in human development. Gujarat's share is only 5 per cent in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, reflecting the State's inadequate commitment to income generation for the poor. Levels of hunger in Gujarat were high and comparable to those in Orissa and Bihar. Only Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh had higher hunger levels"
In terms of Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), though Gujarat showed slight improvement during Modi’s tenure, Gujarat still lies a miserable twenty-fifth position among states in the country! Now IMR is a very sensitive indicator of women’s status in general and of healthcare facilities for pregnant women in particular, such as vaccination and nutritional supplements. Thelkha castigated Modi’s model of development:
“It also reflects the state of immunisation programmes for children and overall public health and hygiene, which includes water supply and sanitation. If the family is unable to take care of an infant or a pregnant woman, it becomes the government’s responsibility to provide primary healthcare...Other states have shown far better improvement in rural healthcare than Gujarat. This neglect of rural health and the rural sector in general is a reflection of the distorted development ideology being pursued by the state since a long period of time. The health of the rural sector worsened in the 90s during the BJP rule and has further deteriorated during Modi’s tenure.The IMR improvement in Gujarat, particularly in rural Gujarat, has stagnated because of the continued high incidence of Neo-Natal Mortality (NNM), which is death of infants within the first month of birth. The reasons for NNM are unsafe delivery and lack of vaccination (such as titanium toxid.) of the newborn. These factors have to do with the primary healthcare system, which is the responsibility of the state government. Gujarat has privatised child birth facilities through the Chiranjeevi Yojana, but its success has not been seen in the tribal areas...The “karmayogi” chief minister should have strengthened the existing public healthcare infrastructure rather than attempt to privatise it. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) of 2005-06 shows that in Gujarat, 47 percent of the children below 5 years are underweight because of malnourishment. In India, this percentage is 46 percent. Moreover, there has been an increase in malnourished children in the state from 45 percent in 1998-99 (NFHS data).”
According to the third round of National Family Health Survey, anaemia and malnutrition in Gujarat have in fact increased from the second round by a sharp 60 percent. For instance, in the 6-35 month age group for children, the percentage of anaemia has gone up to 80.1 percent in 2005-06 from 74.5 percent in 1998-99. Incidentally, Gujarat is taking the lead in privatising public health infrastructure.The reason for Gujarat’s poor ranking in the HRI is that of Modi’s government’s commitment to the social sector has been low. According to the Monthly Bulletin of the Reserve Bank of India, February 2007, with 31.6 percent of Budgetary expenditures on the social sector Gujarat was at the 17th position among the 18 largest states in India. Budgetary statistics show that expenditure on the social sector has declined during Modi’s tenure.
6. GUJARAT IS A STATE OF PEACE
Modi claimed that the model of Gujarat where along with peace, unity and brotherhood, everyone's development would take place. This is perhaps weakest of his claims:
Politics is not just about delivery systems and flourishing businesses. It is also about social change and distributive justice.
The latest statistics put out by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) reveal that Gujarat stands third in the list of states of complaints about human rights violation. According to the Ahmedabad Mirror on March 16, 2009:
“A total of 3,813 complaints of human rights violation were received from Gujarat. That’s a notch higher than Bihar, much maligned for its lawlessness. Overall, Modi’s Gujarat ranked third in the rogues’ gallery.“According to Girish Patel, a human rights activist, violation of human rights is rampant in Gujarat.“This is the only state where ‘state terrorism’ prevails, where encounter deaths, forced disappearance of people, custodial violence, misuse of POTA and illegal detentions are common. District magistrates in Gujarat invoke Section 144 for long duration, which is an infringement of citizens’ human rights. The Gujarat Human Rights Commission is left non-functional, which burdens NHRC with a lot of monitoring in the state.Civil and political liberties of people are being violated in Gujarat in the name of development. Many projects launched in the state have taken away shelter and means of livelihood of poor people. The Kankaria lake front and Sabarmati river front projects in Ahmedabad have displaced a number of marginalised people, who were promised rehabilitation but never provided.”Social scientist Achyut Yagnik said three sections — Muslims, Adivasis and Dalits — have all along faced atrocities and human rights violations in Gujarat. The frequency and intensity of atrocity on these sections have increased since 2002. “There are two Gujarats – the ‘aam’ and the ‘khaas’. Of the two, the ‘aam’ Gujarat has been suffering badly at the hands of the ‘khaas’ Gujarat,” he points out.Senior lawyer and social activists Mukul Sinha said incidence of human rights violations have increased in Gujarat since 2002:“Victims don’t get compensation, legal aid and proper rehabilitation. Crime against women has also increased. And disturbingly, rights violation cases occur more in the developed areas of the state.”Frontline who did an in-depth story on Modi’s Gujarat Model of development documented some of these rights violation:“The easy availability of land and resources is perhaps the biggest challenge before new industry today, and this is what Modi offers. The Mahuva and Orpat Limited cases highlight how people (especially farmers) are ridden roughshod over by the government in the rush to give land to industries. In the Mahuva case, the local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator objected to a project that Modi had cleared. In 1999, the then Chief Minister, Keshubhai Patel of the BJP, had ordered the building of four CDTRS (check dam cum tidal regulatory structure) at a cost of over Rs.60 crore.Located in a stretch of 40 km, these were supposed to turn thousands of hectares of land arable. Local farmers were delighted, but their joy was short-lived because the land was handed over to a washing soap company that was diversifying into cement. The land perfectly suited the company's purpose because it had the limestone deposits essential for cement production. But the mining of limestone would spell doom for the natural barrier against salinisation of arable lands. Local resistance to the idea was quashed by goons.The 214-hectare plant coming up at a cost of Rs.1,400 crore will require a mining lease for over 3,200 hectares. This will displace about 5,000 families, that is, over 30,000 people. Agriculture has been the backbone of Mahuva, which is relatively prosperous and dependent on 20 cotton gins and 50 onion dehydration units. In February 2010, local MLA Dr Kanubhai Kalsariya organised a rally of the people of the dozen affected villages. Modi rejected the petition of the 5,000 Mahuva residents who walked to Gandhinagar to ask him to cancel the land lease for the plant.
In Saurashtra, a similar land acquisition plan was unfolding. As part of the Vibrant Gujarat scheme, Orpat industries was granted 40 ha of land in Wankaner district to construct a tourist resort. Wankaner is in a drought-prone area. Two shocking concessions were made for Orpat. It was given land at Rs.40 per square metre and sole access to the Garida pond, the lone waterbody in the area that was used for drinking water and irrigation. It was walled off by Orpat.Angry farmers approached the High Court, which stayed all activity on the site and in March this year ordered that water be released into irrigation canals. Local residents have also challenged the all-too-speedy allotment of land and the price at which it was given. The High Court is expected to give its order on both soon."Fr Lancy Lobo of the Centre for Culture and Development in Vadodara has been studying development and displacement in Gujarat since Independence. His report entitled “Development-Induced Displacement in Gujarat 1947-2004”, co-authored with Shashikant Kumar, shows 4,00,000 households displaced in 57 years of Independence; this means that 5 per cent of the State's population was affected by developmental projects. Lobo says that a study of 80,000 Gazette notifications of the Government of Gujarat and files from Land Acquisition Departments from 25 Collectorates shows that 33,00,000 hectares of land was acquired in this period.
7. GUJARAT IS CORRUPT FREE
Praising Chief Minister Narendra Modi for Gujarat's development, Senior BJP leader L K Advani said if the whole country adopted a policy of "zero tolerance" towards terrorism and corruption like him, India would rise to new heights at the global level:"In Gujarat, there is good administration and there is zero tolerance towards corruption and terrorism. If this policy is adopted across the country, then India would rise to new height.”
Here too such a claim is hotly contested:
"As the state government itself has admitted, the PDS in Gujarat have come to be known for hoarding, profiteering, poor quality, adulteration, overpricing and under weighing. The FCI allots less than the required PDS quota to Gujarat and the government doesn’t even bother about it. It keeps itself busy converting more and more BPL cards to APL, apparently to showcase its efforts at improving the hunger situation in the state, at least on paper.Also, bogus cards are made at will and the PDS quota is diverted to the open market using these. This happens at both the levels of the Civil Supplies Department and the Fair Price Shops. With absolutely no checks on the FPS, these functions as autonomous bodies and are the major source of resource diversions. Such is the situation now that numerous public hearings, suo motto cognizance by the Gujarat High Court and various RTI applications have failed to bring about any change."
(Frontline, May 7, 2011)
The CAG report also exposed misappropriation and fraud to the tune of Rs 26,651 crore in Gujarat. The Congress says that it was because of scams that the Modi government kept in abeyance the appointment of a Lokayukta for the past seven and a half years and oppose his appointment by the governor. Frontline gives details of these scams:
“Three big scams in two years have done little to promote Modi's Vibrant Gujarat. There was the Rs.1,700 crore Sujalam Sufalam scam in 2009: labourers who were to be given wheat in exchange for digging ponds in fields were given rice instead by local fair price traders although they had been paid wheat prices by the government. Many of the ponds were ‘dug' only on paper and large stocks of the rice were sent to Maharashtra and sold there at a profit.Also in 2009 came the Rs.260 crore scam pertaining to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme: non-existent traders sold boris (sacks) to set up sandbag check dams, non-existent labourers were registered, and NREGA funds were misappropriated.In 2010, it was found that the Fisheries Minister had been awarding contracts for fishing in 58 reservoirs across the State. Reservoir fishing is awarded on the basis of tenders. It was alleged that the irregularity cost the State exchequer Rs.600 crore.”Vibrant Gujarat and the Gujarat Model of Development devoid of spin goes to prove how it is just another socio-economically vulnerable state in the country. In that sense the “Vibrant Gujarat” campaign is reminiscent of the NDA government’s “India Shining” campaign of 2004, which the Congress countered with the “aam aadmi” rhetoric. The chickens have now come to roost. So Modi drops Vibrant Gujarat from his vocabulary and attempts an image makeover as the Messiah of the Minorities!