A pat and a rebuke for Gujarat

Girija Shivakumar
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Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia presents a bouquet to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Tuesday.— Photo: AFP
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia presents a bouquet to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Tuesday.— Photo: AFP

The Planning Commission on Tuesday approved Gujarat’s plan size of Rs. 59,000 crore for 2013-14. Narendra Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister, reiterated his consistent efforts towards inclusive development in an attempt to dismiss the lack of social sector development in the State.

According to Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Central plan assistance to the State includes Rs. 10,000 crore under the Centrally sponsored schemes and Rs. 4,000 crore as direct aid.

“Gujarat is one of our better performing States. In terms of economic growth, we have noted that the performance has been good in Gujarat. The State has raised a number of issues on which the Central government should act; like slow decision making, faster action for better development,” said Mr. Ahluwalia.

However, Mr. Ahluwalia pulled up the State for its performance on social indicators, saying: “[There was]… a lot of discussion on the social sector. I think generally it has been our view that Gujarat needs, in order to bring its social sector performance up to the economic size, to have some special attention to this area.”

Mr. Modi was here on his first trip after being elevated as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election campaign head. The approved plan expenditure of Rs. 59,000 crore is nearly 16 per cent more than the outlay for 2012-13.

Members present at the meeting expressed concern over various poor social indicators prevailing in Gujarat including child sex ratio, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate and malnutrition.

Universal support

Mr. Modi was quick to defend his State’s performance, pointing out that Gujarat spends 42 per cent of its budget on the social sector. He shot back with the motto “ Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas ” (Everyone’s support, everyone’s development).

At the meeting, he showed a film highlighting the achievements of Gujarat’s inclusive growth in several schemes and sectors.

“The funds would help upliftment of all sections of the society, including scheduled caste, down trodden, exploited and tribal. We want to have all the sections to get the benefits of growth,” Mr. Modi added.

While the Planning Commission’s members acknowledged improvements regarding social indicators according to the 2001-11 census, they maintained that sections of Gujarat have not reaped the benefits of this growth model. Additionally, the State must inspire to be like other fast growing States that have managed to enjoy inclusive growth.

“This is not good enough for a State growing so fast. Gujarat has the resources to be at par with States like Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra,” member Planning Commission Sayeda Hameed told The Hindu .

Mr. Modi once again emphasised that “Gujarat has played a crucial and big role in development of India. In terms of contribution and GDP, we are among the highest contributors,” he said.

“Centre not flexible”

Mr. Modi expressed concern over the Centre not allowing enough flexibility with State funds. He suggested less control and conditionally over funds received. He was in agreement of the B.K. Chaturvedi committee on restructuring the schemes.

“The Planning Commission is taking a note to the Cabinet which I hope will be considered possibly tomorrow [Wednesday] to introduce a lot of flexibility in each CSS [Centrally Sponsored Scheme],” he said.

“The State has been fast growing in terms of Gross Domestic State Product and per capita income but human development indicators are not commensurating with this high growth,” said Dr. Hameed noting the disparity in the States growth.

  • Gujarat spends 42 per cent of its budget on the social sector: Modi

  • Gujarat’s human development indicators not commensurating with high per capita income: Hameed

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