New Delhi: Gujarat continues to be one of the fastest growing states in India, but its growth may not be as inclusive as Chief Minister Narendra Modi claims.
The Planning Commission notes that the state is one of the biggest contributors to the country's gross domestic product (GDP). It states that in agriculture and allied ctivities, the average growth performance in the 11th Plan period was higher than what was achieved by the country as a whole.
But its performance in lifting people below the poverty line is not as remarkable as other states. Gujarat saw a paltry 8.6 percent reduction in poverty when compared to other states like Odisha, which had a 20 percent reduction in poverty in same period. And the rate at which poverty is reduced among Scheduled Tribes and Muslims is among the lowest in Gujarat.
During a meeting to finalise the state's Annual Plan for 2013-14, the Commission drew attention to the fact that Gujarat's performance in the social sector lagged behind what could be expected from a high growth State. Of particular concern in this context was the level of the child sex ratio (CSR), infant mortality rate, MMR and malnutrition.
Between 2001 and 2011 there has been an improvement at the State level for the child sex ratio, but this consists of deterioration in about half of the districts, offset by gains in the others.
In the area of malnutrition, evidence suggests that malnutrition levels were higher than what the advanced economic level of the state should have warranted.
The Commission emphasised the importance of agriculture growth for inclusiveness and its chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the state " needs to pay special attention on social sector".
The state government responded that it shared the concerns of the Commission on the importance of social sector development and spelt out the initiatives that it has adopted to remedy the situation.
It spoke about planning a second phase for their growth initiative in the farm sector, including establishment of front-end facilities and a further thrust in animal husbandry.
The Commission noted the initiatives taken by the state in areas of infrastructure development, rural roads, watershed management and skill development. The Kaushalya Vardhan Kendra (KVK) has been recognised for its innovation and success.
At the meeting, the state government raised issues where it felt the central government policies needed to be reviewed to improve resource allocation for efficiency and to avoid creating impediments in the path for development.