Ahmedabad (Gujarat): The growth trajectory of Gujarat is an inspiring story and the upward trend in economic growth signals the arduous work put in by subsequent Gujarat governments in building what is today a robust, people-centric economy.
Recently, a recommendation was given to the state government of Gujarat by a panel of experts for scaling up the growth in the manufacturing sector — it has been estimated that the state will have to attract investments worth Rs 5 lakh crore in focus sectors by the end of fiscal 2022-23. There have been a few other recommendations and in addition, it has been laid down that the state may promote sustainable manufacturing through decarbonisation and net-zero initiatives in the identified sectors.
The panel headed by Dr Hasmukh Adhia, former Finance Secretary to the Union Govt, has also suggested that the state raise its share in the national GDP to 10 percent over the next few years.
In state-wise GSDP share in the national GDP 2020-21, Gujarat stood number 5 after Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. In terms of figures, Gujarat’s share was 8.36 and Maharashtra stood at number one with 13.69 percent. That means Gujarat will have to cover the extra space; and it is embarking on a new road map on a mission mode to achieve the same.
Let us keep the hardcore economic issues aside for a while and take a closer examination of other factors that can significantly improve any state’s growth graph.
The foremost of all among all the factors is the law and order situation. This means, if a state wants to grow, firstly, it has to become peaceful. Of course, Gujarat is a peaceful state compared to other prospering Indian states, especially the four leading states — UP, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
Of course, the detractors of Gujarat’s political culture and political opponents of the government of the day will have different stories to tell. Some of these stories are painted in such a manner by a powerful section of media that people tend to believe that a stranger could be easily attacked in the streets of cities like Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Surat.
The truth about Gujarat is just the opposite of what is generally circulated. There are also efforts made frequently to present the western state in a poor light.
Nevertheless, the sum and substance of the argument is that yes, Gujarat is a peaceful state. The transformational model of Gujarat is seen as one of the key contributors towards shaping a ‘New India’.
The industry captains would readily endorse the view that there has been complete industrial peace and so, the state continues to remain an ideal investment destination and of course, a traders’ paradise. Thus, Gujarat has carved a niche for itself and has emerged as the growth engine of the country.
The state has endorsed peace and has aimed at economic upliftment across all sections of society. Closer studies of Gujarat would reveal that it has not been apologetic about its nationalistic commitment.
Gujarat has shown what being Bharatiya, that is a ‘true Indian’ means. In fact, the western state has made the right synthesis of three basic elements — nationalism, core Hindu values of patriotism with humanism at their heart and also, development. Today, there is no internally self-contradictory ideology as is propagated by some vested interests alleging the Gujarat system would alienate not only minorities but also a large majority of deprived Hindus. This notion was absolutely rubbish.
Here is my argument based on a simple but first-hand experience. It was sheer coincidence that when I landed in Ahmedabad on June 21 on the International Day for Yoga as I interacted with Yoga enthusiasts for the day’s events in various parts of the city, one common refrain suggested that everybody seemed to have developed a new liking towards yoga. It was seen by many as alternative ways to achieve well being.
“The enthusiasm towards Yoga has increased manifold in recent times as many Covid patients got benefits of Yoga,” said a Muslim bakery owner in the Lal Darwaza area.
There is another factor. Muslims in Gujarat have been more practical and more focused towards business and normal avenues of life. Perhaps unlike their counterparts in some other states, Gujarati Muslims have moved beyond the gory days of communal conflicts and have buried the past. For their part the minorities have served the state of Gujarat well. In turn, they have contributed to the state’s economic growth and have been generally peaceful and law-abiding.
There are some famous eating outlets at Bhatyargali near Teen Darwaza point. I was pleased
to find a large number of non-Muslims thronging the area for a variety of non-veg dishes. Foodies were seen around 10 in night along with their families and children. When asked , some local residents and business people in the area about the peaceful times in Gujarat, unlike, say Muslims in some UP hubs, say these Gujaratis do not feel economically trapped or socially vulnerable in their home state.
“There is no cultural confusion here and unlike other states, religious manipulation by clerics is less or negligible. Muslims in Gujarat very much want to remain part of Gujarat — the country’s great democratic and secular experiment,” said one local resident.
Thus, there is peace and harmony. And this suits the developmental agenda of the state. Some years back, one western magazine had noted “So many things work in Gujarat, that it does not seem like India”. The situation is the same today as well.
Local entrepreneurs and even officials say that Gujarat has a significant manufacturing base. This alone contributes to nearly 30 per cent of the state’s GSDP. It is suggested that manufacturing cannot grow without an atmosphere of trust and peace. Experts also say that the share of sectors such as transport and energy in the GSDP of the state can rise up to 48 per cent.
Traditionally, the three pillars of economic growth of Gujarat are agriculture, manufacturing and services. These sectors can only prosper in a peaceful state. We have to do a lot of thinking on the issue of attainment of peace and prosperity. On the national level, if we can achieve what Gujarat has achieved despite a brutal history of incidents of communal violence, nothing can stop us as a nation from scaling great heights in terms of development.