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Gujarat vs. Himachal Pradesh: Rahul Verma

November 6, 2012

Guest post by RAHUL VERMA

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal at an election rally in Mandi. PTI photo

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:

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Alankar permalink
    November 6, 2012 6:16 PM

    Thanks Rahul. As your earlier analysis on UP election, this one is again interesting. If in the case of UP you gave us comparison between SP and BSP performances, then here you’ve compared two BJP ruled states. The data part is really quite informative. Election scenario in both states makes the comparison more timely. And precisely because of the timing, perhaps, a comparison is also expected between the other meanings of the political between the two states in the last decade. Gujarat has seen a phenomenal amplification of communalization of society along with the chauvinistic tone of ‘Development’ under Narendra Modi. How is the report card of Himachal on these fronts? If communalization in Himachal does not have that imposing and overarching image as in/of Gujarat then has Himachal also seen development different from Gujarat where it is more glossy than substantial? Yes, you substantially argue about ‘Himachal Model of Development’ but to me in another regards the question arises – How much has Himachal ALSO been pocketed by Ambanis, Tata, Essar, Adani, Birla in the name of development? If it is similar story in both states then why Modi is more trumpeted in media and politics than any Dhumal or Virbhadra? (Any connection with national or internal BJP politics here?) How is the ruling party – BJP in both cases – similar/different in the two states? What is the level of bonhomie between CM, BJP and other Sangh Parivar organizations in both states? In both states the principal opposition party is also Congress. What is common/uncommon in its approach towards fighting against BJP in both states? BJP has seen a formal institutionalized break away in both states just before elections. The Gujarat Parivartan Party led by former CM Keshubhai Patel in Gujarat seems to be more anti-Modi but pro-RSS. In Himachal, BJP has seen formation from its own rank of a rival political party – Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP). Interestingly, this breakaway party has formed Himachal Lok Morcha – a pre-poll coalition of HLP + CPM + CPI. What is the status of, if any, coalitions in Gujarat?

    • November 27, 2012 10:46 AM

      Very good food for thought ! In the eighties I used to go to Ahmwdabad for Christmas because my sisters worked there. Christmas was celebrated with much gaiety by the Christians and we used to go for coffee after midnight mass. Two years back when i asked my sister whether i could come there , she informed me there was no celebration worth the name because mass was celebrated in the evening and every body went home quietly after that.Christians there are second class citizens, like Muslims. Quite a shrinking of the community space. Midnight celebrations by Christians on one day disturb the peace while a nine day navratri celebration does not.
      Our media has always had a fancy for dictators, so they trump them up !

    • June 19, 2015 12:01 PM

      Himachal has not been funded by corporates in the name of development. The state has taken care of most of its resources and development. In that sense the model is close to that of Kerala than Gujarat.

  2. Ramesh Narendrarai Desai permalink
    November 6, 2012 6:30 PM

    Thank you for highlighting Himachal Pradesh. It has opened my eyes. I have always held that it is the mettle of the people that determines the progress of the state. The hill people by and large are hardy, hard working, simple at heart and co-operative in nature. If they can get a good leadership and if exploiters from outside can be prevented from looting the state, wonders can happen. This is what seems to be happening. Brothers and sisters of India ! My humble request to you to concentrate on changing yourselves rather than changing your leaders. If you are hard working, co-operative, by and large law abidibg, enterprising, self-reliant rather than dependent on Sarkar Mai-Baap, you are bound to get good leaders. States like Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat have shown the way. Kindly follow them without trying to copy them blindly. Do not be mired in ideologies. What works for you is right.

  3. passerby permalink
    November 6, 2012 10:56 PM

    Why compare with Gujarat why not with Bihar. Why HP cant be compared with a similar small state. I am sure at this rate somebody will end up comparing average heights, no. of teeth in the mouth and % of population having more white color clothes and try to prove that Gujarat is not doing all that great :).
    ‘Himachal Pradesh model of development”. Oh God :(, is the beginning of yet another academic cottage industry and seminar circuits. Not long ago we were told how fantastic the Kerala model was in development.

  4. xyz permalink
    November 7, 2012 11:15 AM

    when it comes to state elections that grab interest, more than developmental narrative, economics and political interests what matters most is perhaps whether the parties or candidates at the state concerned has a stake in the center……….or whether it is a key player in the power struggle……….the low interest may not have to do with geographical area as if that logic is true then definitely a Orissa election would be more closely followed than Bihar………..or say Arunachal election would be more closely followed than Punjab and Haryana…………..maybe which ever state is a key player in the power narrative at center will be focused in election discourse, whether it is Manipur or UP…………

  5. November 7, 2012 11:47 AM

    A sentence I never thought I would read on Kafila:

    “These data points do not intend to take away any credit from Gujarat for its incredible performance over the years.”

    There is much to be said about development and developments in Himachal without making it read like a paen to the Virbhadra Singh, Shanta Kumar and Dhumal!

    Amazing. And somewhat shocking.

  6. CGP permalink
    November 7, 2012 4:45 PM

    Even politically, Himachal Pradesh seems more energetic than Gujarat. He should have learned that in more mature political systems % voter are less compare to Socialist or Under Develop part of the society. The reason is Gujarti voter learned the elected rep has not unlimited power to grant favours thus they understood better then the Ph D writer who seems to misrepresent stats to support the argument. Politics is not a science but an art and he has not gasp the simple truth. His thesis must be scrutinised before granting the award.

    • xyz permalink
      November 7, 2012 9:43 PM

      Sir to be fair to his point ……I guess what you are saying here is not the point he is trying to make in his article..I believe the purpose of the article is not to compare Gujarat and HP and show why 1 is better……when I read I did not think that was the point…..although to reply to your comment………any PhD level thesis or even MPhil level thesis goes through its fair share of review process……….maybe the writer would be in a better position to reply to this……..if he wants to……

  7. Rohit Negi permalink
    November 7, 2012 7:05 PM

    “The hill people by and large are hardy, hard working, simple at heart and co-operative in nature”
    Our own, homegrown, Orientalism, anyone?

  8. November 15, 2012 4:07 PM

    Though statistical data gives a decent idea about quality of life in any given region, the whole argument over comparing two states on the basis of empirical data appears a futile exercise. Development as such is a subjective notion and the way a Himachali sees it may not be in consonance with how a Gujarati sees it. Of course, everyone wishes improvement in basic civic amenities and income level, but what is more important is the cost to be paid for it. And, given the fragility of its ecology Himachal has much to lose in lieu of the model of development being imposed on it. Ask any Himachali, or for that matter any Indian, has rise in income level also brought more happiness? The answer definitely would be in the negative. An average Gujarati by nature is considered to be enterprising and would feel unhappy if the socio-political setup of the state is not conducive to meet his aspirations. On the other hand, an average Himachali avoids taking risk, so why should an industrial model of entrepreneurship be imported from outside to make him feel uneasy. There can be no reference level in measuring development and each inclusive society will have to do some introspection in deciding the right balance. By this logic, Himachal should not be a role model for any other state, and neither should be Gujarat.

  9. Neil permalink
    November 15, 2012 5:38 PM

    Hi Rahul, firstly a great job highlighting the achievements of an underdog state of India. I am impressed and thrilled to see the stats of development in both states. Reading this makes you hope that slowly but surely India might become a better place for everyone to live and flourish. However, I was interested to know if you could also state the total population denominator for both these states along with the demographic distribution to give more context to your findings. Because for me the numbers hold more value than percents, not to say that percentage aren’t useful as well. Additionally, I was also interested to know if some work has been done to look at the level of inequalities present in these two states and its trend over the last 60 years (or less depending on the data present). I am not so familiar with the HDI index but doubt if it measures human development for the most deprived population in these sates or India as a whole. One other point where I am sure Gujarat leads the way unquestionably should be industrial growth and employment figures, that’s just a guess. Anyway I would love to read more similar stuff and was wondering if your Phd is around this topic. Cheers. Neil


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