Pune: Ghanashyam Shah, a Surat-based professor and former national fellow, Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), said that Gujarat has seen a huge economic growth, but remains one of the worst states when it comes to human development. Shah was speaking at the Rajendra Vora Memorial Lecture, organised by Akalan.
In the lecture titled ‘Gujarat Model: Lessons for India’, Shah said that Gujarat’s growth story is credited to Narendra Modi, but it began long before him. “Madhavsingh Solanki announced plans to turn Gujarat into a ‘Mini Japan’ in the 1980’s. That is when the growth story of the state began and not with Narendra Modi.” Shah said.
Shah said that the growth, however, was inequitable in its nature. “Crony capitalism took the benefit of the growth story in Gujarat, which can be called almost inevitable in a developing country, but in Gujarat especially, the checks and balances on this were totally taken off. Tax sops, free infrastructure, and water were provided on the pretense of inviting investment,” Shah said, adding, “But in this ‘Vikas’, there was no place for any dissent. It was suppressed.”
Claiming that the development agenda of the state was just a facade, Shah explained, “Gujarat has received awards for good governance and still has a huge number of malnourished children. Gujarat government filed an affidavit saying there are no manual scavengers in Gujarat. But Tata Institute of Social Sciences published detailed reports showing manual scavenging. It has one of the worst sex ratios in the
Explaining that identitarian issues crop up because of larger issues, Shah said, “Yes there is economic development, but it is not all-round development. We are seeing the same thing being replicated in the country,” adding, “This kind of capitalist development creates insecurity in the society. India is seeing lesser salaried jobs recently. In such situations of larger insecurities, people will look for security in their primordial identities like caste and religion.”
Shah also said that caste was not a huge phenomenon in Gujarat but now, in the last 15 years, it has been rising. “The Patidar Andolan is one such phenomenon. There was an announcement that Patidars will be given 10,000 jobs. But now that it is not possible, the state is abdicating responsibility. This is the base of the Patidar protests,” Shah said. Shah concluded the lecture by saying that such policy creates a worrisome trend.
“Under Modi’s leadership, we’re seeing social Darwinism being implemented on a larger scale. If our next generations are more liable to their primordial identities, it is a worrisome trend for the future of the country,” he said.