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Showing posts from February, 2013

Wither Kanya Kelavni, Mr Modi?

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By Rajiv Shah
A few days back, I was glancing through the latest Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2012, brought out in January by a high-profile NGO, Pratham. For the last few years, it had been making news, at least in Gujarat – each year, the survey results suggested poor quality of education dogging the state's primary schools. The new survey, interestingly, revealed that, instead of improving, Gujarat's educational standards have actually deteriorated over the last one year. As compared to 2011, when 79.7 per cent children in classes 1 and 2 could read letters, words and more, in 2012 this percentage went down to 73.The percentage of children of classes 1 and 2 who could recognize numbers 1-9 or more went down from 79 in 2011 to 71.7 in 2012. Things were found to be not very different for children in standards 3 to 5 or 6 to 8. Only a handful of Bimaru states scored better, that too in some sectors – Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pra…

Gujarat’s experiment with jobless growth

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By Rajiv Shah
I have in my hand a fresh study on Gujarat, “Poverty Amidst Prosperity: Essays on the Trajectory of Development in Gujarat.” What struck me while scanning through this book – which has been edited by Prof Atul Sood of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and contains well-researched papers by 11 others – is Sood’s following statement in the introduction: “Whatever impact and consequences of growth and development that Gujarat has experienced are in a way a precursor for things to come in other parts of India, unless something drastically changes in the policy orientation at the Centre.” In Sood’s view, the current Gujarat “model”, which other states now want to replicate, is “characterized in terms of deregulation of the domestic economy and greater integration with the global markets.” While some observers may consider this statement as something Gujarat’s ruling elite should be proud of, nearly all scholars who have contributed to the book, without exception, s…

The transparency sham

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By Rajiv Shah
It was nearly two years ago. A representative of Ahmedabad-based voluntary organization, Pathey, founded by one senior activist-turned-Congress politician, handed over to me during a session of the Gujarat state assembly a four-page folder which said, on the basis of a survey, that Gujarat government topped in transparency index among a group of 10 major states. The state powerdom, obviously, went gaga over it, seeking political gain. The index was based on queries regarding transparency in budget making. The survey was carried out in alliance with New Delhi-based Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA). What seemed to provide credence to the survey was, it was sponsored, among others, by Ford Foundation and Oxfam India. Covering budget-making in Gujarat every year after being posted in Gandhinagar in 1997, I wasn’t just amused but irritated, as my interaction with top state guns was just the opposite. Indeed, there was lot of transparency when I began cov…