In a study done by Abusaleh Shariff, chief economist at the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), Gujarat surprisingly emerges as a State with high levels of hunger, while simultaneously boasting high per capita income and consistent income stability.

The hunger levels in Gujarat are higher than in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, and surprisingly even higher than in Uttar Pradesh, according to the study, which is based on statistics compiled from a variety of sources: 61st round of the National Sample Survey; the Human Development Survey of the NCAER, deprivation data presented by the Sachar committee and the annual reports of the Reserve Bank of India.

Evenly spread incomes

The paradox is explained by the fact that U.P. has vast areas under cultivation which ensures that its population is poor, but at least minimally fed. Incomes are more evenly spread in U.P., Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. U.P. is in fact a notch above Tamil Nadu in hunger, while West Bengal is below Tamil Nadu but above Gujarat. In Gujarat, the rich-poor disparities are far greater.

Mr. Shariff, who was member-secretary of the Rajinder Sachar committee which probed the socio-economic status of Muslims, presented his findings on Saturday to the Institute of Objective Studies here.

Well-off State

The study establishes Gujarat as a consistently well-off State, figuring among the top six States for per capita State Domestic Product. The State moved up from the sixth position in 1970-71 to the fourth position in 2007-2008, its annual per capita GDP (income) at current prices being Rs. 45, 773. Haryana with an annual per capita income of Rs. 59,008 tops the list followed by Punjab, Maharashtra and Kerala. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are in the vicinity of these States.

However, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are far ahead of Gujarat in Human Development Index. Kerala tops the list followed by Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Haryana and Gujarat. Orissa which reveals high levels of poverty performs better on the HDI. Punjab, Kerala and Haryana are again very progressive measured by levels of hunger. These three are the least hungry states.

Assam is at the top of the States reporting moderate hunger, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. The high hunger States are Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Bihar. The highest hunger levels are reported by Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

Gujarat is also almost at the bottom in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, while Rajasthan is at the top, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu. Gujarat also has higher unemployment rates for Muslims compared to Maharashtra and West Bengal. In most States, Muslims form a higher percentage of the workforce in manufacturing and the organised sector compared to Hindus. In Gujarat, the reverse is true.

Gujarat also shows a wider gap between self-employed Muslims and Hindus. Fifty-four per cent of Muslims as opposed to 39 per cent of Hindus are self-employed in the State. The gap is much lower in West Bengal, where 53 per cent of Muslims are self-employed as against 45 per cent of Hindus. Compared to other States and to Hindus, more Muslims in Gujarat are self-employed or in petty trade. This disparity is compounded by the fact that compared to other sectors, self-employment shows only a marginal increase in share of income in Gujarat.

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