What is the Gujarat Model? This question has many dimensions, especially two decades after Narendra Modi, now Prime Minister of India, first assumed the office of then Chief Minister of Gujarat and scripted this model from scratch.
Before delving into the Gujarat model, an even more basic question needs to be answered first. What is a model and what do we understand from it?
What Is a Model?
Firstly, a model should be something which should inspire others. Secondly, the model should be explainable in tangible action points. Thirdly, the model should be replicable. Fourthly, the model should be holistic and all encompassing and not limited to a particular niche. Fifthly, the model first developed should be institutionalised; so that it outlasts the conceptualiser. Analysed from this prism, the Gujarat model fulfills all the criteria for it to be actually described as a model.
Gujarat Model Fulfills the Criteria
The Gujarat model has inspired other State Governments to follow it. It has been replicated in varying degrees in State and national context.
The Gujarat model was holistic as it covered all the activities of the State such as industrial, agricultural, services and human development indices. The Gujarat model has sustained even after Narendra Modi demitted office as Chief Minister. Finally, the Gujarat model had tangible actionable points that even became a national blueprint for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Gujarat Model in Ten Actionables
So, what indeed is the Gujarat Model? What are its tangible action points? Analysed with an experience of 20 years, the model can be described in ten actionables.
Holistic Focus on All Sectors: Vibrant Gujarat, which became one of the most visible markers of the Gujarat model, facilitates industry to invest in the State. The ‘Ease of Business’ concept that Gujarat first mainstreamed in Bharatiya discourse was in many ways a direct outcome of the Vibrant summits.
However, the Gujarat model is not just about Vibrant Gujarat summits. Far from it. This summit takes place once every two years and that too for a few days. Krishi Mahotsav is organised every year and is a one-month affair. The entire Government machinery moves from district to district, interacting with farmers, educating them on latest technology, seeds and appropriate use of fertilisers. In a sense, the lab moves to the field – the Krishi Raths mobilise scientists who directly reach the villages and come face-to-face with farmers.
During the 12.5 years tenure of Narendra Modi as Chief Minister, Gujarat was the only State which consistently recorded double digit State GDP growth rates as well as double digit agricultural growth rate
The result – during the 12.5 years tenure of Narendra Modi as Chief Minister, Gujarat was the only State which consistently recorded double digit State GDP growth rates as well as double digit agricultural growth rate.
But is the Gujarat model only about farmers then? Far from it.
Van Mahotsav focussed on tree plantation and preservation of the environment. Kanya Kelavani and Shala Praveshhotsav focussed on enrollment at primary level, especially among girls; Gunotsav focused on improving learning outcomes. Sujalam Suflam Yojana, the nationally awarded scheme, was the centerpiece of the water revolution in the State. The Jyotigram Yojana became a national model of how to provide assured power, 24X7, to households, industry and agriculture.
The schemes are too many to list all here but the crux is this: before Narendra Modi arrived on the scene, Gujarat was primarily considered a trading State. In just over a decade, the Gujarat model established it as a manufacturing and agricultural miracle State as well.
Tourism developed as an industry during these years; the service industry came up in the GIFT city and beyond. Mission Mangalam empowered women entrepreneurs; Sabarmati Riverfront and State of Unity gave aspirational infrastructure and iconic landmark concepts; rehabilitation of the earthquake-hit Bhuj region put forward an inspiring tale of not just disaster management but reimagination of development post disaster; malnutrition that afflicted children of Gujarat for decades improved the most in the decade that
Modi was Chief Minister. In all, the Gujarat model is exceptional since it was all encompassing, holistic and covering all aspects of human endeavour.
No Discretion, Only Rules
The Vibrant Gujarat Summit is now in its tenth edition. Lakhs of crores of MoUs and investments have materialised from the previous nine editions. And yet, there is not even one story in these 20-odd years of any undue favour extended, any bypassing of rules, any misuse of discretion or even a hint of corruption. When other parts of the country were beset with charges of corruption and misappropriation, especially during the 2004-15 period, how did Gujarat avoid it? The answer is again the Gujarat model.
No discretion. No favours. No bending of rules. No out of turn allotments. This sounds incredulous, right. And yet, that is the reality of Vibrant Gujarat Summits in particular and the Gujarat model in general.
Bureaucratic red tapes were cut. What was genuinely applicable or desirable for one entity was made policy so that it becomes applicable to all and all eligible can avail the same benefits. Web of approvals were dissolved and single window clearances were created. Sounds simple, does it not. This is exactly what Gujarat did that created the base for the industrial activity in Gujarat, made it a manufacturing State and created a national template for replication.
Modiji’s Imprint in Use of Tech
In simplifying complex layers of governance, in reaching out to people, in ensuring ‘Ease of Living’, use of technology is undoubtedly the personal touch of Narendra Modi on the Gujarat model. His personal fascination with use of technology became an institutional model.
The anecdotal story of Gujarat, which used to lag behind Maharashtra in border-crossing toll collections by almost 25 per cent, suddenly topping Maharashtra by almost 30 per cent on the same check posts, simply by installing automatic pre-paid boom barriers is just one example of imaginative use of technology.
Schemes such as Swagat, e-Krishi Kiran, Mukhyamantri Amrutam, e-Mamta, Revenue cases online management system, Child Tracking system, eMPOWER, OJAS, e-Dhara, e-Nagar, Beti Vadhaao, XGN, XLN, eGujCop, e-Procurement, MAGIC, Virtual Civic Centre, Investor Facilitation Portal, e-Gram and BISAG completely transformed the entire governance landscape of the State.
Today, we see a scaling up of the same processes at the national level – from the use of online grievance redressal system to participative governance model and from DBT to UPI. The validity of the Gujarat model is in the very fact that it has been replicated, with great success, in the use of technology, at national scale.
Effectiveness of Jan Bhagidari
A speech that Narendra Modi delivered in October 2007, at an annual summit of a leading English newspaper based in New Delhi, is instructive and educative on the Jan Bhagidari concept that Modi first conceptualised in Gujarat. Jan Bhagidari, in essence, is involving people in building a mass movement towards the development paradigm. Once people feel consulted and involved in the decision-making process, their stake in ensuring that same decision gets implemented also increases manifold.
The Gujarat model had tangible actionable points that even became a national blueprint for Prime Minister Narendra Modi
The results of this simple concept were transformative. The Narmada Dam project, conceptualised in the 1950s, was completed only after Modi became Chief Minister. The waters of the river reached dry regions of the State and in turn they became agricultural regions.
An underlying aspect of the process of Jan Bhagidari was to convert Government programmes into festivals like Rann Utsav, Nadi Utsav, Handicrafts Utsav, Vikas Utsav, Khadi Utsav and many such festive schemes. Of course, the biggest of them all – Krishi Mahotsav – transformed the landscape of the entire State. Festivals are community events, where everyone participates with joy. Government schemes and programmes became festive occasions in themselves, people participated out of their own volition, hence ensuring their success.
Sabka Saath and Sabka Vikaas
Post-2014, the national motto was Sabka Saath and Sabka Vikaas. But its seeds were laid in Gujarat. The mission was simple – everyone together, everyone grows. But no appeasement. The divisive Sacchar Committee was formed by the UPA Government with the sole agenda of dividing people on religious lines. When it reached Gujarat, it was told that the Gujarat Government does not do even an iota for the Muslim committee. The members of the committee, out to do political henchmen job, were shocked at this blurt statement. But, partisan as they were, even they could not dismiss the facts and evidence.
The Gujarat model means working for all six crore Gujaratis, without favour and without partisanship.
Think of the Kite festival that came to be so much associated with Gujarat and which attracted a lot of film and international celebrities. Almost the entire manufacturing of kites was controlled by the Muslim community. Within the time Modi was Chief Minister, the turnover of the kite industry increased by almost 30 times. (From approximately Rs 30 crores in 2001 to approximately over Rs 9,00 crores in 2012). The beneficiaries of this expansion were obvious.
And yet, it was about projecting Gujarat as a tourist destination without thinking of appeasing any one community or depriving any community of their legitimately benefited.
Restoring Law and Order
No appeasement and yet development of all was an entirely new paradigm in the country, which moved from the idea level in books to actual implementation level on ground.
Before 2001, Gujarat was witness to periodic outbursts of communal violence, Post–2002, it has been reduced to zero. Gujarat became a hub of smugglers and criminal syndicates in the 1990s, which traded in drugs, contraband and other illegal goods. All such mafia outfits have been eliminated.
Terrorists were rampaging the country between 2004 and 2014 and many times even before that. But whoever turned towards Gujarat was neutralised. The Indian Mujahideen, which was attacking the country with wanton brazenness, was finally tracked down and busted when they dared to set foot in Gujarat in 2008. Crimes against women became the lowest in the country and in NCRB data by the 2010s, Gujarat consistently started faring among the safest when it came to women. How did all this become possible? Because policing was depoliticised, transfer posting industry was shut down, use of technology to facilitate better policing – from use of CCTVs to drones and from creation of specialised units for specific crimes to setting up of scientific processes were the hallmarks of the process. It is not an accident that Bharat’s first Forensic Sciences University came up in Gujarat.
Nation First, No Parochialism
Gujarat is perhaps among the very States in Bharat, which decisively shuns parochial interests. Under Narendra Modi, it became the guiding mantra. An example of this approach is instructive. As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi ensured that BSF’s requirements for drinking water were addressed adequately at the international border with Pakistan where they were deployed. A 27-km long drinking water pipeline from Khavda to Dharamshala was laid down to replace the old, corroded and leaking pipeline. This new pipe carried two million litres of water per day against the demand of five lakh litres at the time. The pipeline was laid by the State’s water supply department and was done to break the bureaucratic deadlock that was causing delays in the replacement of the old corroded pipeline. Remember, BSF is in central jurisdiction and not that of State Government. The then UPA Government was dilly dallying, so the Gujarat Government took it upon itself to get it done. Nation first.
Multiple such examples abound. From retrieving Shyam Krishna Verma’s ashes from Switzerland to Samvidhaan Gaurav Yatra in 2010 and from Run for Unity in 2013 to conceptualising and executing the State of Unity in Kevadia, and from Kankaria Festival to deploying women from North East in Gujarat natural forests – the soul of Gujarat model has always been nation first.
An early anecdote from Modi’s early life best illustrates this point. This is a story from the late eighties – 1987 to be precise. Then, Narendra Modi had recently joined the BJP and one of the first programmes he undertook was the Nyaya Yatra. This was a yatra that was focused on going to labourers in each town and village and making them aware of their rights. Modi Ji made BJP workers go to labourers and talk to them about what their wages should be, how many hours their work should be and what benefits the Government should give them. This was one of the first mass outreach programmes of the BJP in Gujarat and it was a grand success.
Labourers started asking questions about their rights and governments as well as contractors were forced to ensure they were taken care of. This experience – of the aspirational class who just need to be empowered has stayed with Modi since then.
When Modi became Chief Minister, aspirational Economics became an institutionalised facet of the Gujarat model. Take the example of the modern, futuristic bus stands that came up in Gujarat during Modi Ji’s period. The thinking before was that airports were used by the rich, buses by the poor so why waste resources on the latter. Instead focus on upgrading the former. Poor were taken for granted. He reversed the mentality. The Baroda Bus stand gained national headlines, but the vision was the same – empower the people to aspire and then let their skills do the rest.
Take Anganwadi workers. They are the backbone of the Government machinery in reaching out to women and children and for delivering social goals. But considered to be at the bottom of the pyramid, they were always ignored when it came to even basic facilities. Modi Ji changed all this. If air hostesses can wear striking uniforms that add dignity to the service they provide, why not Anganwadi workers? Top designers were engaged to design their sarees. Soon, Angangwadi workers started welcoming the Chief Ministers in official functions instead of top bureaucrats. Their social hierarchy was pulled up, so empowered, their work was also taken more seriously and their own effectiveness in delivery also obviously increased. In all these gestures – from policy formulation to micro execution – the thinking was the same – Gujarat model must stand for aspirational economics.
World Class Infrastructure Creation
That Gujarat had the best roads in the country is no longer news. That Gujarat was the first State to provide 24 hours electricity, throughout the year to all of its 18,000 villages, is no longer news. That Gujarat successfully implemented the BRTS is no longer news. That Gujarat created a manufacturing hub in automobiles, from scratch, is no longer news. All of this is by now established wisdom. But how did it all start?
When Modi first became Chief Minister, one of the first things he realised was that development in Gujarat is skewed along the two roads that passed through Gujarat – essentially two National Highways that connected to major metros. History has shown that infrastructure is the precursor to all round development. How could Gujarat develop if its infrastructure was limited. Thus emerged the concept of nine-roads–a network of roads that would cover the length and breadth of Gujarat. Think of Gujarat as a circle and these roads as the spokes that traversed in all directions. It is this thrust, in the initial days, that sparked the sustained growth phase, creation of jobs, development of complimentary infrastructure, and emergence of new towns and business hubs.
If physical, basic infrastructure was being created, so was aspirational infrastructure. The Sabarmati Riverfront is a prime example. Post-Independence, no other city has been able to revive our rivers or create riverfronts on the scale and expanse as Gujarat has been able to do. The Statue of Unity in Kevadia, hitherto an unknown small place, now a national tourist hotspot is another example. The revival of Kutch, the Rann of Kutch festival and the attendant infrastructure development is one more example of imaginative infrastructure development. Overall, Gujarat model established the final balance of creating basic infrastructure, modernising existing infrastructure and investing in aspirational infrastructure.
An important, perhaps the defining facet of the conception of Gujarat model, is its civilisational rootedness and mission. Gujarat model is about seamlessly fusing our heritage with our modern impulses.
The sustained and focussed work in such areas as the Dholavira development, Developed of Buddhist circuits in Gujarat, Initiating work on Statue of Unity, Launching the Rann Utsav, Celebrating Gandhi Jayanti in Porbandar, Promoting Artisans Through Haats, Garvi Gujarat Campaign, Garba Festival initiation, Shamlai Temple Renovation, Ambaji Temple Development, Development of Sakkarbagh Zoo of Junagadh, Building Kranti Tirth to honour Shyamji Krishna Varma, promoting Makar Sankranti Festival and launching Kankaria Carnival are but just of the examples of the underlying conception of Gujarat model.
The Navratri festival and the Garba became an international brand during the years Modi was Chief Minister. Somnath Temple and the adjoining areas have now been rejuvenated to benefit its status. The longevity of the Gujarat model can be understood from the fact that the same template has now been replicated at the national level – from Kashi Vishwanath to Kedarnath and from Ayodhya Dham to bringing back our stolen artefacts and heritage. It has been 20 years since Narendra Modi first became Chief Minister of Gujarat. In 2014, he demitted that office and became PM of Bharat. Since then, there have been three other Chief Ministers in the State with the latest incumbent having recently assumed office. But the model that Modi established has sustained in Gujarat, has been replicated in myriad ways in other States and scaled nationally at the central level. With the benefit of hindsight, and with experience of 20 years, it would not be an exaggeration to assert that the Gujarat model is the first post-Independence model of governance that was Made in India, by Indians and for Indians.