Monday, October 21, 2013

The Gujarat Model of Social Welfare

THE Raghuram Rajan committee on evolving a composite index for the ranking of states categorised Gujarat as a “less developed state.” The state ranked 12th from the top and was surpassed by Sikkim, Tripura and Himachal amongst the other “less developed states” within the index. At the same time, states with similar growth rates like Maharashtra and Tamilnadu were termed as “relatively developed states” in terms of the composite index.

The index has been attacked by the supporters of the chief minister, Narendra Modi, who claim that Gujarat is a model of inclusive development. However, a closer look at the patterns of state intervention in social welfare reveals that the state’s claims of “growth for all” are not entirely true. The evidence presented by researchers as well as recent government reports proves this fact.


Recent reports on the state of Gujarat’s social sector indicate that the Gujarat model is based on less investment in the social sector and higher investments in industrial infrastructure. The comparative position of Gujarat, as far as the social sector investment is concerned, has been presented in Table I.

Both the states chosen in Table I alongside are industrialised states with high growth rates, whose spending is well below the all-India level in the current year. Further, the gap between the all-India spending on social welfare and the Gujarat government’s spending on social welfare has grown in the last financial year. This clear indication is evident from their spending on both public education and health.

The initiation of public private partnerships (PPP) is the foundation of the education and health policies of Gujarat and this is reflected in the funding patterns of the state. As seen in Table II alongside, the level of educational expenditure has declined in the state in the last two years. Also, even though the public health spending is comparable with the all-India average, this investment is largely used to maintain the existing infrastructure. A working paper by the Planning Commission (2012) shows that the state has underperformed in both sectors --- education and health.

As far as Gujarat is concerned, the state ranks 16th in regard to the education sector and 14th in regard to the health sector. The only sector where it can be considered ‘relatively developed’ is in infrastructure (where its ranking is number 6). Given this fact, it is not surprising that every third child in the state is malnourished and that the state has to depend on corporate funded non-government organisations (NGOs) to bring children into schools. Thus the aim of its Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is to subsidise the existing infrastructure of private schools and make “private school education more affordable for poor children.”

Similarly, the PPP model being used in the state provides the framework for subsidising private health services in the state. In both cases, the focus is to spend on infrastructure for the privatisation of social services. This model is compatible with the overall model of corporate growth where social services are being restructured for the benefit of big corporate businesses.


This focus on public private partnerships in social sector has also exercised its impact upon the implementation of schemes that are essential to the wellbeing of the most vulnerable sections of our society, namely women, children, dalits and adivasis. A recent report from the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) on the social sector in the state well confirms that the implementation of social welfare programmes for women and children have been implemented in a half hearted manner by the state government. In particular, programmes like the supplementary nutrition and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) have been short-changed in their manner of implementation. As against the requirement of 75,480 Anganwadi centres, only 52,137 centres were sanctioned by the state government. Of these, only 50,225 centres were in existence (CAG report 2013, p 45) and, in this way, about 1.87 crore children have been denied the benefits of the ICDS programme (ibid, p 48). It was further noted that the basic amenities were not available in 40 per cent of the Anganwadi centres. Further, the audit revealed that Rs 5.56 crore were unaccounted for between the audit of 2011-12 and 2012-13 as far as expenditures on the Anganwadi centres were concerned (ibid, p 52).

A similar situation is seen in the supplementary nutrition scheme under the ICDS programme. The audit report points out that it was the Supreme Court that had asked the government to provide supplementary nutrition to all children (six months to three years) and lactating mothers. The total population of children and mothers to be covered by the scheme was to be about 223.16 lakh. But the government target was only 170.32 lakh, which covers only two thirds of the targeted population. Moreover, the actual coverage under the scheme was 159.97 lakh between 2007 and 2012, thus denying about 63.37 lakh people the benefits of the scheme. Hence the report concludes that the Gujarat government has never intended to universalise nutrition (ibid, p 57). The report also indicted the government for not implementing the nutritional programme for adolescent girls in Panchmahal district. About 40 percent of the girls in this district remained outside this scheme (ibid, p 61). In this situation it is not surprising that every third child in the state is malnourished and 55.3 percent of the women have severe anaemia.

Thus we can see that the impact of the Gujarat model of development has been very negative insofar as the vulnerable social groups are concerned. This is largely because such a model is largely driven by a restructuring of the social sector for the benefit of corporate enterprises. Such an extreme form of corporate capitalism needs to be opposed and its truth needs to be exposed in order to build up a broadbased campaign against the communalised developmental politics of Narendra Modi and his cohorts.

Archana Prasad People's Democracy 20-10-2013

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