Telling the wrong story

Courtesy: Times of India, Oct 6, 2011


Nothing else explains why it lets Narendra Modi tom-tom development when it should have been the Congress banging the drums. The economic achievements of governments before Modi’s read like an award citation, but too much secularism has since led the Congress astray. Instead of showcasing its past performance to regain Gujarat, it is obsessed with nailing Modi as a communalist-in-chief. Naturally, it is not getting anywhere fast.

Look also at the good memories the Congress is erasing.

In 1991, a full 10 years before Modi arrived, as many as 17,940 out of 18,028 villages were already electrified. The Ukai plant, which uses washed coal to generate power, was also pre-Modi as was the asphalting of 87.5% of Gujarat roads. In 1980-81, Gujarat’s share in manufacturing at the national level was only 16.29%, but by 2000-01 it rose to an impressive 28.71%. Not surprising then that between 1994-2001, well before Modi, Gujarat’s state domestic product grew at 10%-13%, way higher than the all-India average.

Since 1980, Gujarat has been India’s poster state. Modi had nothing to do with the world’s largest ship-breaking yard coming up in Bhavnagar, nor with the setting up of the Ambani refinery in Jamnagar. Well before Modi, Gujarat accounted for 45% of India’s petroleum products, roughly 18% of the country’s cargo handling, 23% of our total requirement for crude oil and 30% of our natural gas needs from offshore basins.

In addition, Gujarat, since the 1990s, produces as much as 78% of the country’s salt, 98% of soda ash and 26% of India’s pharmaceutical products. Because of chief minister Chimanbhai Patel’s intervention in 1993, port traffic in this state jumped from a mere 3.18 million tonnes in 1981 to 86.17 million tonnes in 2001. In the same period, Gujarat’s share of national port traffic increased from 45.36% to above 76% and has stayed there ever since. Modi’s decade has not made that percentage grow.

During the eventful 1990s, Gujarat successfully augmented 35% of its power generation capacity. It also closed down five major loss-making public sector units, initiating instead a variety of public-private partnerships. In fact, an early short-lived BJP government under Keshubhai Patel in 1995-96 did some good work too. In particular, he was instrumental in setting up Gujarat’s Industrial Development Board, but Modi has blanked him out from public memory as well.

If Gujarat’s agriculture is prospering today, it is because the state has begun to receive Sardar Sarovar waters from 2002. Once again, Modi had little to do with the inauguration of this project, but he was at the right place at the right time to take the credit for it. If there was ever a person who reaped what somebody else had sown, then that is Modi.

Gujarat also is not alone in posting agricultural growth rates above the national average; even backward Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh handsomely beat the all-India figure. Finally, it is not as if Gujarat is overall the richest state either; Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Kerala are all much better off, primarily because they have lower rural poverty rates.

At the same time, to round off this number, it must be acknowledged Gujarat was never poor. True, it was a lowly eighth in terms of prosperity in 1960, but it has been at number three since 1990 and continues to hold that spot. Modi may not have self-started Gujarat’s development, but he certainly kept the engine running.

In line with this, Modi should be credited for taking a few initiatives of his own. For example, while Gujarat’s villages were all lit, it is also a fact that the state’s electricity board was bankrupt in 2002. Loans were arranged to overcome this shortfall and power thefts too were curtailed by police monitoring. Gujarat also did well in making the central government’s ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ work, especially in connection with the girl child. Yet, the percentage fall in Gujarat’s infant mortality and poverty rates are well below the national average.

It is not as if Gujarat’s pre-2001 achievements are hard to dredge out of history. But by keeping silent about its successful past, the Congress has added body to Modi’s presence. This enables him to keep his people in line by telling them he is about to get angry, but that should not disorient the opposition. Now that Gujarat’s economy is all grown up and good-looking, the Congress should admit its responsibility and submit to a paternity test. What is there to hide?

Hefty anti-saffron helpings, on their own, will not do. With a stomach full of that stuff, the Congress can hardly catch up with Modi. In fact, Jawaharlal Nehru taught us that secularism does not win elections, development does. Why then is the Congress doing its best to come second-best by gagging its record of the 1990s? In politics, as in sports, winning is not everything, it is the only thing.

Most recently, Mukesh Ambani praised Narendra Modi for putting Gujarat on the world map. He seems to have forgotten that his father, and Reliance, prospered in Gujarat well before Modi properly entered politics. On the other hand, there is much wisdom in the old Sicilian proverb that we keep our friends close, but our enemies even closer.

In which case, is Mukesh close or closer to Modi?

The writer is former professor, JNU.

Link: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-10-06/edit-page/30247288_1_narendra-modi-gujarat-s-industrial-development-board-keshubhai-patel


  1. Sanjay Jha Ji congress ki gulami chodo, Aur Anna Ji ke sath me aao, Do at least one good work in your Life.

    Shame on your kind of India.

  2. I still don’t see any importance of any person working with 400 fortune 500 company. Jha chagne your dress and go to get your passport renewed as a normal guy. You will find the real indian. That time let me see what comments you have. But still I know you wont change. Moreover I dont have time to read all your comment above

  3. Shame on Congress and Chamchas of Congress like Jha who don’t have to do anything but chamchagiri of Congress for their living. Hope there is some sense of shame left in people like Jha who have decided to be lifelong bonded labours of Congress and are happy to clean even the shit of the Congressmen just for a few bucks.

    What happened in Rajyasabha where the Congress hired a rogue RJD MP to tear the bill in the parliament and stage a well planned disruption drama to subvert the bill. Shame on Congress. Resign from Govt if you have any shame left…though it is doubtful.

  4. What happened in Parliament is a murder of democracy by Congress which make tall claims of the supremacy of Parliament. People knew the reputation of Congress being the most corrupt govt ever but they also proved themselves to the champions of hypocricy. Shame on Congress. You have become a burden and a liability on the nation.

  5. What happened in Parliament is a murder of democracy by Congress which make tall claims of the supremacy of Parliament. People knew the reputation of Congress being the most corrupt govt ever but they also proved themselves to be the champions of hypocricy. Shame on Congress. You have become a burden and a liability on the nation.

  6. Ram Jethmalani statement has a truth when he said that a foreign magazine named 14 international “Thugs” in their magazine with their names, account no. and the amount in the account and shamefully the 14th name was that of India’s former PM late Rajiv Gandhi. This is the reputation of Congress PMs as, barring Sastry, every Congress PM had charges of corruption against them.

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