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Showing posts from March, 2015

Gujarat agricultural growth story? Socially disadvantaged groups fail to gain: NSSO data

By Rajiv Shah
Latest figures released by the Government of India’s powerful data collection centre, National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), have suggested that the purchasing power of three socially disadvantaged groups in rural Gujarat – scheduled tribes (STs), scheduled castes (SCs) and other backward classes (OBCs) – is considerably lower than not just most of the Indian states. It is also much lower than the dominant social groups, identified as “Others” by the NSSO, compared to most other states.
The data are significant, as they come amidst continued hype around Gujarat’s growth story in the agricultural sector under the chief ministership of Narendra Modi (2001-14).
The report, titled “Household Consumer Expenditure across Socio-Economic Groups”, was released in February this year. It calculates monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) to identify purchasing power of different sections of population. It bases its data on 2011-12 survey.
The data show that in Gujarat’s rural are…

A school in Gujarat seeks to fight caste, plastics

By Rajiv Shah
A decade-long experiment, taking shape 100 kilometres from Ahmedabad, halfway to Rajkot, the business hub of Saurashtra region of Gujarat, appears have largely gone unnoticed. Just next to the National Highway 8A, not very far from the sleepy Katariya village, the premier Dalit rights NGO of Gujarat, Navsarjan Trust, is running a higher primary school, for classes 5 to 8, seeking to turn it into a “model” for other schools to follow. It is one of the three schools run by Navsarjan — the other two being near the Rayka village in Ahmedabad district and Sami village in Patan district.
As we entered the campus the other day, nobody seemed to be around. An eerie quiet prevailed, as if. Suddenly, a child spotted us, and declared “Martinbhai!” And, all of a sudden, a horde of children began peeping through a window, and many of them came out, welcoming us, smiling, eager to shake hands with their Martinbhai — and me. What a striking contrast it was from other primary schools, I t…

Gujarat, other "richer" states poor performers in implementing rural jobs guarantee scheme

By Rajiv Shah
Latest data released by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) suggest that Gujarat, along with a "richer" states Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab, have been some of the worst performers in the implementation the previous UPA government's flagship job scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
The report, titled "Employment and Unemployment Situation among Social Groups in India", was released a fortnight ago.
The report shows, nearly one-third, or 29.2 per cent of Gujarat's job seekers who got themselves registered under MGNREGA by getting job cards, sought but failed to get employment. This is against the all-India average of 18.8 per cent.
Just four out of 20 major states performed worse than Gujarat -- Punjab (30.4 per cent), Karnataka (30.5 per cent), Bihar (35.4 per cent), and Maharashtra (44.8 per cent). NSSO operates under the Union ministry of statistics and programme implementation, Gover…

Tribal rights: Gujarat a poor performer, suggests Central govt document

By Rajiv Shah
A new Government of India document, in possession of Counterview, has suggested that Gujarat’s performance in providing land to the tribals under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, is one of the poorest in India. The document shows, as of December-end 2014, Gujarat, an early starter, was able to “dispose of” just 39.97 per cent, or 75,974 claims, out of the total 1,90,051 tribals who had applied for land title deeds or community rights. This is against the national average of a whopping 82.60 per cent (17,13,519 out of 39,59,0190).
The document, titled “Status report on implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 [for the period ending December 31, 2014”, was sent to the Cabinet Secretariat on January 16, 2015.
The most overzealous state for disposing of tribal plea for land is Maharashtra, which disposed of more claims than the number of applications it received (119.89 per cent). This was followed by …

Gujarat's "turnaround man" blames IAS colleagues for failing to act by constitution during 2002 riots

By Rajiv Shah
A Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat with impeccable reputation, Alexander K Luke -- termed “turnaround man” by captains of industry across India in mid-2000s for pushing top public sector undertaking (PSU) Gujarat State Fertlizers and Chemicals (GSFC) from the red -- has held the state’s “top administrative level” responsible for failing to act impartially during the “2002 Gujarat bloodbath.”
In a just-released book he has authored, Luke has said, had the police and IAS officials “held firm and did what they were required to do by the constitution”, a collapse of the administration “could have been avoided.” Luke headed GSFC from 2003 to 2006.
Luke was forced to resign from the IAS two years before he was to retire (2008) after he refused to follow an order of to allow concession to a contractor. He recalls in the book how he was humiliated in an official report, and how the then chief minister Narendra Modi accepted his resignation without waiting three-day he had offered him h…

Gujarat govt 'contemplates' bulk transfer of water at market rate to North, Central Gujarat

By Rajiv Shah
The Gujarat government appears all set to work out a new scheme for regional transfer of waters, in which farmers from South Gujarat sell waters they are "entitled to use" at market rate to water-scarce areas in the North and Centre of the state. Supposedly a “win-win” scheme for both, under it the water-abundant South Gujarat farmers earn on the “transfer” of Narmada waters to water-scarce Central and North Gujarat, whose farmers would be made to “pay” at a negotiable market rate for the waters they receive.
Giving an outline of the scheme, a recent book, published by Sage and “supported” by the Gujarat government, favours setting up of special “intermediate agencies” to make this possible. Involved directly with the government, these “agencies” can provide water subsidies, wherever, necessary, the book indicates.
Authored by former Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) managing-director S Jagadeesan and Hyderabad-based water resources expert M Dinesh Kumar, …

Not so well-informed on Narmada

By Rajiv Shah
I have in my hand yet another book on advantages of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). “Supported” by the Gujarat government, and seemingly well researched on a quick scan, what intrigued me after going through it was, it seemed to fail to answer some of contentious questions that remain unanswered ever since the SSP was initiated full-scale in late 1980s. A closer look at the book, which has just been published by Sage, suggests that it fails to address critical issues affecting the project despite its declared aim to have a “well-informed debate” on the project. The term “well-informed”, quoted by the authors, also seemed intriguing — especially because it heavily relies on official sources of information, without referring even once to the sources which have questioned the some of the SSP’s benchmarks.
In fact, the reliance on official information is so high that the final manuscript became “ready for publication” only after the managing-director of the Sardar Sarovar Na…