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Showing posts from April, 2016

An alternative to reservation

By Rajiv Shah
Last evening, I was a little put off for a while. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-hand man, Amit Shah, and new Gujarat BJP chief Vijay Rupani (whom I had known as a relatively more suave politician among many of his ilk) told media that the Gujarat government would provide 10 percent reservation to dominant castes having income less than Rs 6 lakh.
It wasn’t reservation, already a contentious issue, which seemed to bother me immediately, as much as the figure, Rs 6 lakh. I wondered: Does it mean that a tax payer should be allowed reservation?
As expected, in his one-upmanship, Congress’ opposition leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, an ex-BJP man, came up with the demand to raise the reservation limit to 20 per cent, and the income limit to Rs 12 lakh! What he was demanding was simply amazing. Many class one officers of the Gujarat government, except a few in the IAS, would be “allowed” reservation.
I desperately searched for reaction. A scribe, who passionately covered the res…

Gujarat No 5 in FDI inflow in India, far from being No 1 in India-China: Official data "contradict" thinktank claim

By Rajiv Shah
A recent Financial Times Group thinktank may have claimed that Gujarat turned into No 1 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination among all Indian and Chinese states (see Counterview, April 22), Government of India’s (GoI’s) own  FDI data show that, far from being No 1 among the two countries, it is No 5 in India.
While the thinktank, FDI Intelligence, gave the figures of FDI intentions, pointing out Gujarat "attracted $12.4bn and claimed 10 per cent of all capital investment into both countries", pushing Shanghai Municipality (China) to the No 2 position with an investment of $10.57b, the GoI figures show that Gujarat has remained consistently No 5 since 2000 in India.
The quarterly factsheet, released by the GoI’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), shows that FDI inflow into Gujarat was $ 9,507 million between April and December 2015, which is five per cent of that of India’s $191,063 million.
As against Gujarat’s 4.97 per cent of FDI inflow…

Model Gujarat fails to spend "enough" on social sector, especially education, reveals RBI's state budgets study

By Rajiv Shah
Is Gujarat government refusing to spend enough on social sector in accordance with its capacity, as reflected in its high value of the gross state domestic product (GSDP)? It would seem so, if the latest data, released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its “State Finances: A Study of State Budgets 2915-16”, are any indication.
The RBI study has found that, among the 18 states bracketed as “non-special category”, Gujarat’s spending in social sector as percentage of GSDP is one of the lowest in India – just about 5.9 per cent, as against the national average of 7.4 per cent.
Among the 18 non-special category states, the RBI data show, as many as 14 of them spend a higher on social sector as percentage of GSDP than .Two poorer states – Chhattisgarh and Bihar – are the best performers. They spend 15 and 12.3 per cent of GSDP respectively.
Interestingly, RBI has provided details of Gujarat’s failure to spend enough on the social sector as percentage of GSDP at a time when it…

Model Gujarat's 'urban lag'? State's 41% households have internet access, as against all-India average of 49%

By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat may be claiming to have provided the widest internet coverage compared to the rest of India through the state-sponsored Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN). However, a recent Government of India survey shows that access to internet in the state’s urban areas is just to 41.3 per cent of its households, which is far below the national average of 48.7 per cent.
The neighbouring Maharashtra’s urban areas are way ahead of Gujarat with 64.6 per cent households having internet access. Similarly, in urban Kerala, 62.1 per cent households have internet access. Largely urban areas, Delhi’s 48.5 per cent, Goa’s 52.6 per cent, and Chandigarh’s 60.2 per cent have internet access.
The National Sample Survey (NSS) report, “Education in India”, based on samples taken in 2014, pointing towards a huge urban-rural internet divide across India, says, “Among the selected states, Chhattisgarh had the lowest percentage (2.5 per cent) of households having access to internet facility.”

Instead of Gandhi, Sardar, Modi, Gujarat should reflect aspirations of social groups, inequalities: Scholar

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book by senior Gujarat-based scholar Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, who has served as professor at a top Indian IAS training institute, seeks to make a controversial suggestion: About the need to look at Gujarat not as a land of “Gandhi, Sardar Patel, and, of late, Narendra Modi”.
Insisting instead to look at Gujarat in the context of aspirations of different “social groups, communities and nature of inequalities among them”, the book, “Protest Movements and Citizens’ Rights in Gujarat (1970-2010)”, seeks to analyze five major protest movements that rocked the state between 1970 and 2010.
These movements are – Navnirman movement of 1973-74, which proved to be precursor to the JP movement; the two anti-reservation movements of 1981 and 1986; the pro-Narmada dam Ferkuva movement of early 1990s; and the 2009-10 Mahuva movement against the Nirma Cement Plant in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat.
The book has been published by the prestigious Indian Institute of Advance…

Probing into Gujarat’s ‘silent’ subalterns

By Rajiv Shah
Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, who has just finished her stint as professor at the Centre for Rural Studies, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, the premier institute which “trains” IAS babus in administrative skills, has come up with a new book – an “ethnographic” account of five major mass movements of Gujarat.
Outcome of her earlier fellowship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS), Shimla, the book seems unique in two ways: First, even as analyzing the five movements from what she calls “rights-based” perspective, the book does not take any of these on their face value; and secondly, against the backdrop of the so-called Gujarat model of development, they highlight what has been ailing diverse sections of Gujarat society over the last four decades.
Titled “Protest Movements and Citizens’ Rights in Gujarat (1970-2010)” and published by IIAS, the five mass movements the book seeks to analyze are – the Navnirman movement of 1973-74, when…