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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

A Look In The Mirror

Two academics hold Gujarat up against other states to see if it grew more in the Modi decade than in the preceding 20 years

A Look In The Mirror
Mayur Bhatt
A Look In The Mirror
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The forthcoming election, it seems, will be fought mainly on issues of governance and economic performance. To the extent there is a focus on the personalities involved, such as Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi or Arvind Kejriwal or potential ‘Third Front’ candidates such as Nitish Kumar or Mamata Banerjee, most of the discussion is about their economic track record or lack thereof. This is a welcome development. However, in the grand theatre of Indian politics, facts often take a backseat to slogans, and opinions get sharply polarised. For example, we either hear that Gujarat’s economic performance has been nothing short of miraculous due to the magic touch of Modi or that Gujarat’s so-called growth story is all hype and a PR campaign aimed at covering up a dark underbelly of poverty, inequality and low levels of human development indicators.

A lot of this debate reflects disagreements about two sets of issues. First, there are many dimensions of economic performance—we could look at the level of per capita income, the growth rate of per capita income, human development indices (HDI) that put weight on not only income but also on non-income measures like education and health, the level of inequality, percentage of people below the poverty line, and many others. Which index we choose to emphasise reflects either our preferences as to the aspect of economic performance we value the most, or our views as to which dimension has to be improved (say, per capita income) for bettering the dimension we care about (say,...

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