Gujarat vs. Himachal Pradesh: Rahul Verma
Guest post by RAHUL VERMA
Even though Hiamchal Pradesh voted on November 4, Gujarat has been hogging all the limelight. The election in Gujarat is only in the third week of December. Gujarat captures our political imagination as a ‘role model state’ whereas Hiamchal Pradesh is just in our tourism agenda as a top holiday destination. It is hard for anyone to notice Himachal as a political entity among the big brothers like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. The irony is that some smaller states like Manipur and Nagaland still manage to get some attention because of violent manifestations of political choices in these states. Himachal Pradesh is absent from our discourses as the state is just ‘small’ and ‘beautiful’. However, the great turn around in Himachal over last two decades demands that India at least recognizes the “Himachal Pradesh model of development”.
Gujarat definitely leads the contingent of Indian states in terms of growth rate and per capita income. Himachal Pradesh is the third fastest growing economy in the country. The per capita income at constant prices increased from Rs. 20,806 in 1999-2000 to Rs. 32,319 in 2008-09. Between 2004 and 2010, Gujarat succeeded in bringing down the percentage of poor from 31.6 percent to 23 percent, whereas the percentage of poor in Himachal has gone down from 22.9 percent to 9.5 percent. Himachal also does better than Gujarat on the Ginni index as well (Ginni index captures income inequality among groups). In an issue on June 21, 2011, the Economist matched India’s states n terms of population and GDP per person (in purchasing power parity) with its nearest equivalent among the different countries in the world. Gujarat looks like Angola and Himachal resembles Mauritus.
It is not just the economic indicators where Himachal has seen tremendous improvement. According to the Human Development Index report (HDI) 2011, Himachal Pradesh ranks third after Kerala and Delhi, whereas Gujarat is on the eleventh spot. According to the 2011 Census of India estimates, Gujarat’s sex ratio of 918 females per 1000 males is well below the national average of 940 females. On the other hand Himachal Pradesh has a sex ratio of 974 females per 1000 males. Himachal’s sex ratio was 976 and Gujarat’s sex ratio was 934 in the 1991 Census. Between 1991 and 2011, Gujarat managed to improve its literacy rates from 61 percent to 79 percent, whereas in Himachal Pradesh’s literacy rates increased from 63 percent to 84 percent.
The 2011 Census also records that only 57 percent of households in Gujarat avail banking services while in Himachal its more than 86 percent households. Similarly 97 percent household use electricity as primary source of lightening in Himachal Pradesh, while in Gujarat only 90 percent household use electricity. Himachal does better than Gujarat in terms of provision of drinking water and sanitation too. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS -3) data suggests that life expectancy at birth in Gujarat is 64 years whereas it’s 67 years in Himachal Pradesh. NFHS -3 data also suggests that Himachal Pradesh leads Gujarat in terms of media exposure as well as HIV awareness.
Even politically, Himachal Pradesh seems more energetic than Gujarat. Voter turnout during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat was 47.9 percent whereas it was 58 percent in Himachal. During the 2007 state assembly elections, Himachal recorded a 71.6 percent turnout; in Gujarat the turnout was 60 percent. Interestingly, the turnout among women has been consistently higher than men in Himachal Pradesh in the last fifteen years. Members of Parliament (MP) from Himachal Pradesh seem to be performing better than their counterparts in Gujarat during 15th Lok Sabha. MP’s from both states average at 275 questions raised by an MP in the house. However, MP’s from Himachal have an average attendance record of 88 percent and MP’s from Gujarat have an attendance record of 79 percent.
A report by PRS Legislative Research, Delhi, suggests that there is even greater divergence on how the state assemblies in these two states function. Between 2007 and 2012, the state assembly in Gujarat met for lesser number of days than the Himachal Pradesh state assembly. Gujarat state assembly seems to devote less time in discussing a bill than the Himachal assembly.
These data points do not intend to take away any credit from Gujarat for its incredible performance over the years. The idea is to recognize that other states in India have started pitching in their share. Different developmental experiences among Indian states suggest that a variety of developmental models are possible. We must at least rethink on which developmental model the other states could follow.
(Rahul Verma is a PhD candidate in Political Science at University of California, Berkeley.)
More on Gujarat from Kafila archives:
- A conversation that didn’t take place in Juhapura
- The urban-rural divide in Modi’s Gujarat
- Nivedita Menon: We remember Gujarat 2002.And we know you’re lying about development
- Rahul Verma: Gujarat vs. Himachal Pradesh
- Ayesha Khan: Of Shared Spaces and Experiences in Gujarat
- Reza Noorani: Reflections of a Refugee from Modi’s Gujarat
- RB Sreekumar: On the low morale of the Gujarat Police
- Urvish Kothari: We, the People of Gujarat
- Ayesha Khan: Three stories of resilience from Gujarat
- RB Sreekumar: Gujarat genocide – the state, law and subversion
- Zahir Janmohamed: When an April Fool’s Day joke is not funny
- Zahir Janmohamed: On Narendra Modi’s strange bedfellows in Washington DC
- Zahir Janmohamed: Sanjay and me