Jean Drèze’s article (“The Gujarat middle,” May 10) has pricked the overinflated balloon of the Gujarat model of development that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, along with his party, have been projecting for the past year. Many economists, within and outside India, have contested this exaggerated claim by citing statistical data on different States.
All the summary indices based on multiple development indicators quoted by the writer show that Gujarat is nowhere among the top States in terms of development. This article should have been published much earlier as it shows that the Gujarat model has no meaning.
Both political parties and the media have created this hype over the Gujarat model. During my own research on health care in India, I was astonished to see that more people in rural areas were dependent on one government doctor in Gujarat than in Bihar. This is a reflection of rural-urban inequality in the State. It is a fact that more Congress MLAs were elected from rural Gujarat while the BJP candidates were mainly confined to urban areas in the last Assembly elections. We need an inclusive model for the country, not a corporate one. That has sadly been lacking in India as we place greater emphasis on GDP and totally ignore the Human Development Index.
Prof. Rais Akhtar,
Jean Drèze’s article will wake up all those who have been hypnotised by the Gujarat development model. India being a land of diversity faces different challenges which have to be dealt with community-wise, region-wise and State-wise, rather than by transferring a readymade model from one State to the country. Moreover, development should be holistic and inclusive, and should be reflected in both social and economic indicators.