Before one starts the debate on various facets and factors of Development in Gujarat, it is pertinent to note that between the Keshubhai Patel-era in 1995 and till date under Bhupendra Patel – all the Chief Ministers were development-oriented, pro-industrialists and mainly with the RSS background.
So they all have generally been ear-on-ground leaders understanding the meaning of welfare and how to deliver to the last man. They also focused on other mega projects.
Narendra Modi’s Sabarmati Riverfront project was uniquely innovative. Thus, the ‘cultural nationalism’ was also accompanied by economic nationalism. This ensured consensus building among different sections of the society — the so-called caste groups, and concerned stakeholders. People had competitions and rivalries, but at no point did anyone grudge at the mass level and among Babudom that Gujarat should progress. On this entire Gujarat was one. By 2002-03, Narendra Modi only strengthened this viewpoint by his repeated utterances about six crore Gujaratis.
Even non-Gujaratis staying in Gujarat understood the importance of developmental journeys.
The rise of BJP or the RSS and other Sangh Parivar outfits thus is linked to the development of the western state where people always had a hunger for social uplift and general improvement in the quality of life.
This contrasts with the Marxist culture, which generally glorifies poverty and underdevelopment. For years’ Calcutta’ (the earlier name for Kolkata) suffered from power load-shedding during the peak of summer. The leftists looked the other way and focused on electoral wins one after the other.
The entire state suffered from attack from the armies of flies and mosquitoes and people found solace in poetry – “Disney Macchi, ratre Mosha, ei nie acchi Kolkata (roughly meaning the creativity was diverted even to spending days under attack from flies and nights from mosquitoes).
Coming back to the western state, Gujarat has been business-friendly always. At the same time, experts would vouch that it has been following a practising model of its own.
The ‘original Gujarat model’ was started and was given a boost in 1995 since the BJP came to power, something different from what neo-liberalists understood.
In Gujarat, there was not a case of complete washing away the role of the state. Reforms do not mean gross privatisation, and the BJP-run Gujarat is an example. Keshubhai Patel understood that.
Even PM Narendra Modi, as the Chief Minister, understood the stark difference and hence he promoted the corporate sector but kept an eye on social welfare as well as ensured that the government becomes the facilitator.
After Modi, now it has been carried forward by three of his successors Anandiben Patel, Vijay Rupani and Bhupendra Patel.
Senior government officials and even neutral observers who saw both the leaders Keshubhai Patel and Narendra Modi said there was a uniformity under both to create “enthusiasm and discipline” in the bureaucracy to work for development projects.
The state – that is, the government apparatus – was given different responsibilities “depending upon demand and circumstances” to pursue the targeted goals of development (essentially inclusive) and overall economic growth.
The roles could be of a simple facilitator and regulator. In materialising this scheme of things into reality – Gujarat ensured that the political leadership (either Keshubhai, Modi or others) would helm the government strategies.
This is not something admired or followed in other states where experience suggests the development paradigm is essentially a babudom affair.
Of course, to bring these systems into the ‘Gujarat model’, there was a need for a lot of hard work and initial spadework.
First of all, there is a great need for effective coordination between bureaucracy and industry.
It should be at the policy level and transparent and not a mere ‘nexus’ for shady deals, as probably understood in most other states in the country. Or that has been the Babu-Neta nexus culture in various states cherished and promoted Congress, communists and other regional satraps.
There is a need to be innovative and ensure that the real-time execution is ‘free of political pressures.
In a caste-community centric country, Gujarat being no exception, there was also a need for making ‘alliances’ at the social level.
The corporate and middle classes must see the unity of purpose and should not see each other as rivals. In many states, the gap is huge.
In northeastern states – the rich and powerful have grown from rich to richer and beyond. There have been issues even with good hospitals, school buildings and poor roads on the ground.
Farmers’ suicide in Maharashtra reflects another story.
The officials and the state political leaders have to remove demand supply constraints and ensure general pro-business conditions.
At the later stage under Modi, all these had turned so smooth that results were visible even before some initial steps were taken.
Narendra Modi, says a source close to Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, had another big advantage – his outreach style, and so he used ‘Moditva’ – that is Narendrabhai’s charm to convince people for industrial and infrastructural development.
Essentially, in a broad sense, the Gujarat development focuses on port development, infrastructures and also agriculture and rural Gujarat.
OVER THE YEARS, the BJP government(s) over the years also remained committed to health care and education.
The uniqueness of Gujarat’s development journey can be appreciated by the fact that – if one looks at the figures at random – between 2012 and 2017 (that means three years after Narendra Modi shifted to Delhi), the aggregate growth rate of the state for five years on average has been around 10 per cent.
Notably, those five years were not boom time both at the national level or globally.
Even China’s growth rate post-boom time around November-December 2017 had nosedived to around 6.5 per cent.
The Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Gujarat for 2022-23 (at current prices) is projected to be Rs 22,03,062 crore. This is a growth of 13.3 per cent over the revised estimate of GSDP for 2021-22 (Rs 19,44,107 crore).