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Talk Point: ‘Gujarat model’ an average product, ‘Gujarat marketing model’ in another orbit

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The Gujarat model of economic growth and development is premised on the claims of accelerated infrastructure development of roads, highways, dams, and a spike in foreign investment. But critics have said that moderate achievements have been over-hyped, and it does not account for the decline in social indicators. The Patidar agitation of 2015 further emphasised the waning job market in Gujarat.

Is the Gujarat model of economic growth and development a myth or reality?

In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Gujarat government put out a series of advertisements showing how a record number of youth in the state had been given jobs. It is ironic, then, that unemployment seems to be becoming one of the biggest issues in the 2017 assembly elections. The rise of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor, and Jignesh Mavani is rooted in the unrest among the unemployed or underemployed youth. These are sure signs of famed ‘Gujarat model’ unravelling.

The nation has been voting on this ‘Gujarat model’ since 2014. If we cut through the marketing hype, Gujarat is not the trailblazer state it is made out to be. On economic parameters, it performs worse than Haryana, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. On social development indicators, it is way behind Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

In 2014, when the genie of the Gujarat model was unleashed out of the signature Modi marketing blitzkrieg bottle, per capita income in Haryana was about 30 per cent higher than Gujarat; my state was ahead of Gujarat on almost all development indicators. Nevertheless, trucks of BJP leaders descended on my state, promising to convert Haryana into Gujarat. People bought it.

Here are other sharp perspectives on the Gujarat model of economic growth:

Yoginder K. Alagh: economist and former union minister
Maitreesh Ghatak: professor of economics, LSE
Tavleen Singh: author and columnist
Shekhar Gupta: chairman and editor-in-chief, ThePrint
Gaurang Jani: lecturer, dept of sociology, Gujarat University
Atul Sood: professor, JNU
Sushmita Dev: congress MP

So now we come to a second well-established fact, that while the ‘Gujarat model’ itself may have been an average product, the ‘Gujarat marketing model’ was in another orbit. His opponents were also made to understand that marketing is now critical, if not central, to politics.

It is not to say that the state did not see growth during Modi’s 13 years, but that was a decade when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister, and India saw its highest levels of growth ever. Under PM Modi, Gujarat is not growing at the same pace.

The BJP has been in power in the state for the last 22 years, and despite claims of being the most developed state in the country, unemployment and malnutrition continue to be major problems.

There is no doubt that the ‘Gujarat marketing model’ will again be unleashed by the BJP. But more importantly, will the magic of marketing collapse in the very state from where its chief protagonist comes?

Deepender Singh Hooda is a Congress member of parliament.

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