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Martha C. Nussbaum

Martha C. Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago. She is on the Steering Committee of the new University of Chicago Center in New Delhi, and is also a member of the Board of Advisors of The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy.


Development is More than Growth

Martha C. Nussbaum

Gujarat's "development" – the centrepiece of the campaign by the Bharatiya Janata Party and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi – hardly stands on firm ground. This is particularly evident when analysing other States with comparable growth rates. In this special essay, Martha C. Nussbaum points out that the Modi-model of growth and governance has led to Gujarat lagging behind other Indian States on critical indicators, and this may prove inadequate for India’s future as well.

This election season has seen a lot of talk about “development”. The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is touted as a hero of development policy because of his record in promoting economic growth in Gujarat. Too seldom, however, are questions asked about what the most pertinent measure of development is, when it is the lives of people that we are considering. So it’s time to rehearse again the arguments that have led leading development thinkers all over the world, from the United Nations Development Programme to the World Bank, and including the influential report on development and quality of life by a commission convened by President Sarkozy of France, to reject growth as an adequate measure of development and to prefer, in its place, what is now known as the “Human Development” paradigm. First, I’ll discuss the issues in a general way. Then I’ll turn to Gujarat, showing that, although the growth-based paradigm does indeed give Narendra Modi high marks, the Human Development paradigm, by contrast, shows his record as only middling, far worse than that of states such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which have been preoccupied, rightly, with the distribution of health care and education. Given the high economic status of Gujarat, one might conclude that Modi’s record is not just middling but downright bad.

As the distinguished economist Mahbub Ul Haq wrote in 1990, in the first of the “Human Development Reports” of the United Nations Development Programme: “The real wealth of a nation is its people. And the purpose of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy, and creative lives. This simple but powerful truth is too often forgotten in the pursuit of material and financial wealth.” This is not a partisan political statement, it is an evident truth of human life. Development is about people and their lives. Rightly understood, it is a normative concept: it means that those lives are getting better. So how would one accurately measure that important concept?

The growth-based model of development measures development simply by looking to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. First of all, even if we want an average measure that is a single number, a strategy I’ll shortly call into question – it’s far from obvious that average GDP is the right number. The Sarkozy Commission report argues that average household income would get us closer to seeing how people are really doing. The GDP doesn’t as adequately capture the daily perspective, because the profits of foreign investment can be repatriated by the foreign country in ways that don’t necessarily change the lives of the people in the nation in which they invest.

Furthermore, a crude measure like average GDP is a measure of the stuff that is around. It does not tell us who has it or what it is doing. Above all, it tells us nothing about distribution. It can thus give high marks to nations or States that contain alarming inequalities. For example, South Africa under apartheid used to shoot to the top of the development tables, despite the fact that a large majority of its people were unable to enjoy the fruits of the nation’s overall prosperity. So too with States within nations: a high average GDP is compatible with enormous inequalities, and attention to average GDP positively distracts attention from those inequalities.

Another shortcoming of approaches based on economic growth is that, even when distribution is factored in, they fail to examine aspects of the quality of a human life that are not very well correlated with growth. Research and real-life experimentation show clearly that promoting growth does not automatically improve people’s health, their education, their opportunities for political participation, or the opportunities of women to protect their bodily integrity from rape and domestic violence. And since we are talking of growth in the world’s largest democracy, we might well ask for yet more: the cultivation of informed and critical citizenship, the ability to engage in public debate with active curiosity and trained critical capacities, not merely some dogmas learned by rote.

For such reasons, development thinkers all over the world have increasingly gravitated to what is known as the Human Development Paradigm, which measures development achievements by looking at “capabilities,” or substantial opportunities, that people have only when public policy has put them in a position of effective freedom of choice in crucial areas of their lives.

That’s vague and abstract. Nor is the Human Development Index, which is typically the first table in the annual Human Development Reports, the true alternative proposal. The HDI, an aggregate measure that includes education, GDP, and longevity in accordance with a complex formula, was always simply an attention-getting device. By placing the accent on education and health, the HDI shows that new rankings emerge, different from those produced by attention to GDP alone. But the HDI was always supposed to be an appetizer, so to speak, not the entire meal. Piqued by the appetizer, one should then read on, and several hundred pages of tables would then report many other “human capabilities” – and their absence.

Amartya Sen has preferred not to enumerate the capabilities that ought to be most central for planning, although in practice, by choice of examples, and by his lengthy discussion of India’s achievements and failures, he does reveal his view that the equal distribution of education and health care and the amelioration of inequalities between male and female, rich and poor, ought to take centre stage in planning, along with the cultivation of a truly free press and trained capacities for public debate. I myself have done things a bit differently, though in a similar spirit. I have proposed a tentative working list of the “Central Human Capabilities” that can serve as a template for international public discussion. The capabilities on my list should, I argue, be protected somehow in national constitutions, up to some reasonable threshold level. Here is the working list I have proposed, in my books Women and Human Development, Frontiers of Justice, and, most recently, Creating Capabilities:

The Central Human Capabilities

1. Life. Being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length; not dying prematurely, or before one's life is so reduced as to be not worth living.

2. Bodily Health. Being able to have good health, including reproductive health; to be adequately nourished; to have adequate shelter.

3. Bodily Integrity. Being able to move freely from place to place; to be secure against violent assault, including sexual assault and domestic violence; having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction.

4. Senses, Imagination, and Thought. Being able to use the senses, to imagine, think, and reason – and to do these things in a “truly human” way, a way informed and cultivated by an adequate education, including, but by no means limited to, literacy and basic mathematical and scientific training. Being able to use imagination and thought in connection with experiencing and producing works and events of one’s own choice, religious, literary, musical, and so forth. Being able to use one’s mind in ways protected by guarantees of freedom of expression with respect to both political and artistic speech, and freedom of religious exercise. Being able to have pleasurable experiences and to avoid non-beneficial pain.

5. Emotions. Being able to have attachments to things and people outside ourselves; to love those who love and care for us, to grieve at their absence; in general, to love, to grieve, to experience longing, gratitude, and justified anger. Not having one’s emotional development blighted by fear and anxiety. (Supporting this capability means supporting forms of human association that can be shown to be crucial in their development.)

6. Practical Reason. Being able to form a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about the planning of one’s life. (This entails protection for the liberty of conscience and religious observance.)

7. Affiliation.

a). Being able to live with and toward others, to recognise and show concern for other human beings, to engage in various forms of social interaction; to be able to imagine the situation of another. (Protecting this capability means protecting institutions that constitute and nourish such forms of affiliation, and also protecting the freedom of assembly and political speech.)

b.) Having the social bases of self-respect and non-humiliation; being able to be treated as a dignified being whose worth is equal to that of others. This entails provisions of non-discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, caste, religion, national origin.

8. Other Species. Being able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature.

9. Play. Being able to laugh, to play, to enjoy recreational activities.

10. Control over one’s Environment.

a). Political. Being able to participate effectively in political choices that govern one’s life; having the right of political participation, protections of free speech and association.

b.) Material. Being able to hold property (both land and movable goods), and having property rights on an equal basis with others; having the right to seek employment on an equal basis with others; having the freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. In work, being able to work as a human being, exercising practical reason and entering into meaningful relationships of mutual recognition with other workers.

Among people who favour the Human Development framework, there are many current discussions about whether a list is important, about what should be on it, about what an adequate threshold level of each capability is, and so forth. The impressive book Disadvantage, by Jonathan Wolff and Avner De-Shalit, has used my list as a measure of disadvantage for new immigrant groups, and the authors conclude that the list performs well, though they suggest some additions. These are in a sense matters of detail. What is important is to shift the space of comparison from growth alone to the framework of human opportunity, with a strong focus on distribution and social equality.

Now let us return to Narendra Modi’s Gujarat. Measured by the growth paradigm, its achievements are strong indeed. The growth rate of per capita SDP (State Domestic Prodct) between 2000 and 2011 averages 8.2 per cent, higher than any other State excepting Uttarakhand (10.0). Other high performers, close behind Gujarat, are Tamil Nadu (7.5), Kerala (7.0), and Maharashtra (7.5).1

If, however, we begin to examine distribution, things immediately look very different. Gujarat’s rate of rural poverty is 26.7 per cent, of urban poverty 17.9 per cent; the combined poverty rate is 23.0 per cent. Of the high economic performers, Maharashtra does worse, but Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala do much better, with combined rates of poverty of 18 per cent, 17.1 per cent and 12.0 per cent respectively.2 Moreover, the following States, not such stellar economic performers, have lower combined rates of poverty than Gujarat: Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Punjab.

Let’s now look more closely. Gujarat has life expectancy at birth of 64.9 years for males, 69.0 years for females. The figures for Tamil Nadu are 70.9 (female) and 67.1 (male), for Kerala 76.9 (female) and 71.5 (male).3 Lest we ascribe these differences to climate or genes, quite a few other States also outperform Gujarat: these include Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, and West Bengal. In infant mortality and maternal mortality, Gujarat also lags well behind the two southern States and quite a few others. In maternal mortality, indeed, Gujarat has the high rate of 148 deaths per 100,000 live births, as compared with just 81 for Kerala and 97 for Tamil Nadu.4 So: comparable growth achievements, utterly disparate health outcomes.

The health data for Gujarat are distressing in general, particularly given the State’s wealth; but signs of discrimination against females in the data I have cited are equally disturbing. The same discrepancy registers in the sex ratio. Roughly speaking, demographers estimate that when equal nutrition and health care are present, and when sex-selective abortion is absent, we should expect 102 females to 100 males. Alone in India, Kerala comes close to this balanced ratio, at 1,084 women to 1,000 males: it’s the only State where females outnumber males. But in Gujarat the figure is unusually low: 918 to 1,000. Only a few States do worse: Bihar, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. That’s it. Even Rajasthan, with its long history of discrimination against females, performs better, with 926 females to 1,000 males. And most States are way above that, though below Kerala: in Tamil Nadu, for example, the figure is 995, in Odisha 978, in Andhra Pradesh 992.5 This is not a problem that originates with government: its roots are complex and cultural. But what has the Gujarat State government done to address it? We may search for an answer, but we will not find one.

Turning to education, it’s the same story, only more so. The literacy rate (of people above age 7) in Gujarat is 70.7 per cent for females, 87.2 per cent for males; in Kerala the figures are 92 and 96 per cent respectively, in Tamil Nadu, 73.9 and 86.8 (showing a relative failure of that State in comparison with Kerala). Once again, the aggregate achievement of Gujarat is weak, but the gender discrepancy is particularly striking. The proportion of non-literate persons in the age group 15-19 is, in Gujarat, 16.3 for females, 7.4 for males; in Kerala, 0.9 for females, 0.8 for males; in Tamil Nadu, 2.5 for females, 1.3 for males (so the shortfall in earlier years is made up later on). The following States also have higher female adolescent literacy than Gujarat: Assam, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal. Turning to the proportion of the population who have had at least eight years of schooling: in Gujarat, it is 52.6 per cent for women, 61.2 per cent for men; in Kerala, 93.6 per cent for women, 87.1 per cent for men, in Tamil Nadu 74.4 per cent for women, 73.6 per cent for men.6 Other high performers are Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Uttarakhand.

That’s just the bare bones of education. If we want to know how well students are equipped by their education to take part in public debate, we will find much to distress us all over India, with the infamous and continued dominance of rote learning. But Gujarat’s schools have a special tradition of encouraging groupthink and docility, while discouraging critical thinking. Is this reputation unearned? If not, what steps are being taken to promote the active and critical use of the mind? Even if we should decide to ignore citizenship, as we should not, the skill of critical thinking is essential for a healthy business culture, as China and Singapore have understood, and they have both undertaken recent reforms to inject much more critical thinking into their curricula. What does Gujarat say? Quite apart from the fact that Modi has not even apologised for the depiction of Adolf Hitler as a hero in State textbooks, despite years of national and international protest, he has not even come forward to describe the steps his allegedly forward-looking State has taken or is planning to emulate those business models and, at the same time, to foster active citizenship. We can surely forgive underperformance, since correcting such deficiencies takes time. But if the leader does not confront and acknowledge the deficiencies and formulate a constructive plan to address them, things are unlikely to change for the better.

What is the explanation for Gujarat’s low performance in health and education, in contrast with Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which have comparable rates of economic growth? Clearly, it is the superior quality of public services, particularly in health care and education, in those two States. This is a story often told, and the remarkable fact that Kerala has achieved a life expectancy comparable to that of inner-city New York is by now world-famous (shameful for the U. S., glorious for Kerala). Kerala’s stellar achievements in literacy and in gender equality are also discussed everywhere, and Tamil Nadu comes very close. The history of the south is different from that of Gujarat, and many aspects of culture and tradition are different, so one is comparing against a different baseline. But one thing that surely helps is that the south has resolutely refused the politics of religious division, which surely distracts attention from other matters.

Nobody could expect Narendra Modi to replicate immediately the impressive systems of public education and public health (for example Tamil Nadu’s Primary Health Centres) that have taken years to emerge in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Some achievements, such as the midday meal, which originated in Tamil Nadu, can be quickly adopted by other States; but the larger infrastructure in both health and education takes time to create. But then Modi should admit failure, not proclaim success, and he should acknowledge the work that remains to be done. One would expect to hear a constructive plan for addressing Gujarat’s development failures to date, and this has not been forthcoming. One would also expect praise for organisations such as SEWA in Ahmedabad, founded by the path-breaking activist Ela Bhatt, an organisation that has done so much to address problems of poverty and gender inequality. But Modi praises only business entrepreneurs and not those who, with vision and considerable courage, are addressing some of Gujarat’s most urgent problems of poverty and inequality. Bhatt has won the Padma Bhushan and many other awards (including the Benton Medal for public service from my own university, The University of Chicago); she has been honoured all over the world, but not by the Chief Minister of her own State, who evinces in his neglect – not just of a person but of the issues she represents – an indifference to the struggles of Gujarat’s poorest and its women.

India will not shine without great strides in education and public health. More or less everyone knows this, even when they talk only about growth most of the time. A nation needs a healthy and educated work force if it is to do well into the future. But of course health and education are more than tools for business: they are also essential tools of democratic self-governance. A leadership with a bad record on these issues – and, what’s more, with no shame about this record or public resolve to improve things – is likely to prove disastrous for India’s future.


1. This information is available at data.worldbank.org. Also see Drèze, Jean, and Amartya Sen’s book An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions, Princeton University Press, 2013. The book contains a comprehensive statistical appendix that draws on the World Development Indicators and other Indian government sources.

2. See Table A.3 in the Statistical Appendix in Drèze, Jean, and Amartya Sen, . 2013. An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions,: Princeton University Press, 2013. Drèze and Sen have used poverty estimates from 2009-10 made available by the Planning Commission. There are competing estimates of poverty in India. The Planning Commission has used the Tendulkar Method of estimating poverty by using a Mixed Reference Period. Data for 2011-12, using the Tendulkar Method can be found online at http://planningcommission.nic.in/news/pre_pov2307.pdf. The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative has released its own data, which can be found here: http://www.ophi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Country-Brief-India.pdf. In addition to this, the Reserve Bank of India also releases poverty indicators that can be found online at www.rbi.org.in.

3. Life expectancy at birth data are calculated from the Sample Registration System data for 2012 by Drèze and Sen. The details can be found in their co-authored book, An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions,: Princeton University Press, 2013.

4Other related indicators for Indian States from 2012 can be found at http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Vital_Statistics/SRS_Bulletins/SRS_Bulletin-October_2012.pdf. For more recent indicators please visit the website of the Indian Census at http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Vital_Statistics/SRS_Bulletins/Bulletins.aspx. Based on the Sample Registration System data for 2011. Also see the table on Mortality and Fertility in the Statistical Appendix contained in Drèze and Sen’s An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions, Princeton University Press, 2013.

5. Sex ratio figures are from provisional population totals furnished by the Census of India 2011. A detailed Excel file titled “Population and Sex Ratio by Residence” that contains data on rural, urban and State-wise sex ratios can be found here: http://censusindia.gov.in/2011-prov-results/paper2/prov_results_paper2_india.html

6. See the table on Literacy and Education in the Statistical Appendix in Drèze and Sen's An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions, Princeton University Press, 2013. The figures are based on latest data from the Census of India’s provisional population totals, 2011.

(Martha C. Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago. She is on the Steering Committee of the new University of Chicago Center in New Delhi, and is also a member of the Board of Advisors of The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy.)


The critic has done her job well. It's a must in a democracy and there's no other way to grow. But I would like to say that an aspiring vision for a better State is fine, but comparison in terms of HDI will not serve any purpose and it is not painting a clear picture. There are a lot of things which are should be taken into account in South India - religion, geography and history, they all matter. I still feel and experience that there is a lot of gain in the last decade in Gujarat. This 'lots of positives' aspect is already flagged by many respondents, I am only re-stressing it.

from:  Naresh Kumar Nain
Posted on: May 30, 2014 at 17:38 IST

Right interpretation by Martha C. Nussbaum, undoubtedly. Without education levels, health also improves like in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Education benefits public health perceptions of sanitation and hygiene. I know in early 1960s, I worked for department of Harijan welfare and we did a lot of work untiringly by personally visiting villages and convincing parents to send their children to schools; we personally escorted them and gave them mid-day meals to ensure children aren't taken away from educational advantages by their parents, who looked only for short-term advantages. Though we did strive for better quality education for the children, we faced several bottlenecks. Tamil Nadu was good; Kerala did not have bottleneck issues, their poor were turning up in schools faster than in Tamil Nadu.

from:  g.balakrishnan
Posted on: May 30, 2014 at 09:14 IST

Dear Author, If one wants to be critical, one can be critical of anything and everything. How about taking a look at Uttar Pradesh or West Bangal, or Odisha or most of the States of India for that matter and then compare them with Gujarat. How about taking the feeling and the pulse of the people into account. In most areas in Gujarat, one can roam around freely at night, even women, without any fear of robbery, or assault of any kind. Now compare that with West Bengal, where barely within 12 miles of the international airport of Kolkata, the taxi driver avoids crossing a particular bridge on the river Hooghly because of safety concerns. This is my first hand experience. Please leave Mr. Modi alone. He has been elected thrice, not without good reason.

from:  Malay Aparnath
Posted on: May 29, 2014 at 22:18 IST

Dear Editor, One can very well understand the point that criticism is needed in a democratic society. However, the writer does not want to look at a few basic points. 1. In most of India, there is no development happening and the people are forced to reside in an animal-like situation. 2. In such a scenario, when development is happening in Gujarat, why is that being viewed negatively? 3. What is the alternate model of development (workable) that the writer can offer? 4. Where is the best case scenario? The above article is aimed to lower the achievements Gujarat has made over the past 13 years. It lacks depth and clarity.

from:  Raj
Posted on: May 29, 2014 at 19:01 IST

Respected Madame, It's good to see people still talking about Gujarat and its growth, in spite of many internal problems in India. Yes, you have done an insightful research as Mr. Amartya Sen had done before and many more. Certainly many thinkers within Gujarat itself have criticized the model. But I suspect the research lacks a sensitivity and a humanized point of view. It's good that south India gives a better model but if we look into the developmental history of these States, and moreover, the climatic and socio-economic condition, we can very clearly make out why Narendra Modi is praised for his work. More importantly, he has brought Gujarat to a better position so now it doesn't require pedestal and wheel chairs to run itself. The second phase now under Anandiben will be more glorious if everything goes right. And certainly, I want to ask you a question with due reverence. In spite of USA having very high per capita income, why is it ranked 43rd among other countries of world?

from:  Adi
Posted on: May 29, 2014 at 15:15 IST

One of the reasons for Gujarat being ranked lower in some areas of HDI is because of a large percent of tribal population. If you compare Gujarat and Kerala, you will see that Gujarat tribals make up a huge percent of its population while Kerala has less than 1 per cent. It will take a lot to bring all the tribals up to a certain level in HDI parameters, while for Kerala it was easy, as only less than 1 per cent of it population was tribal.

from:  Siddhartha
Posted on: May 29, 2014 at 11:02 IST

A number of the "capabilities" are a function of an individual's choice, commitment, and effort. The state ought not to create, sustain, or perpetuate barriers to those choices, commitments, and efforts, but it cannot play the parent and engage in mollycoddling individuals (witness the pathological sense of entitlement most Americans have with respect to goods which ought to be distributed on the basis of merit). Work or employment is missing from the list, and, given that for a vast majority anywhere in the world, it is the sole source of income and a necessary condition for the development and/or exercise of capabilities, it must be a priority of the state to ensure that unemployment levels are low. What is the comparative data on unemployment rates in Gujarat and other States of India?

from:  TChola
Posted on: May 28, 2014 at 21:25 IST

It seems that the people here are impatient with texts and facts that do or do not place Gujarat on the top since 2001. That requires perhaps too much contemplation while the media and cyber chatter on shining Gujarat model drew millions of eyeballs. They may perhaps still like to consider the fact that if Kerala outperforms Gujarat then why is it not projected as the model that other States and India may adapt to suit itself. Why is it not celebrated on every TV channel? Why is its CM never the polity's or media's favourite man for the top job now or in the past? What is the political economy of the process that is throwing up the Gujarat Model into the blazing sunlight for them to admire so much? I may add that the consumer aspiration surge, of everyone above the poverty line, has added to the overwhelming disinterest in serious thought about what kind of society is worth creating, and is interested only in what growth rates are worth chasing. In that aspiration the Hindu vote has indeed consolidated.

from:  Anuradha Kalhan
Posted on: May 28, 2014 at 17:57 IST

Why does The Hindu need articles from someone not residing in India? Use of statistics is the real problem. It is said that statistics are lies. Best way to understand development and progress is to ask people themselves.

from:  Kirit Shah
Posted on: May 28, 2014 at 17:42 IST

It was interesting but an unnecessarily provocative analysis and geared towards satisfying the whims of certain intellectuals. My primary concerns are more with the type of analysis on which the inferences were made by the author. It looks like the comparisons are made on the raw numbers. I'm afraid such simplistic analysis don't pass the academic rigour of demonstrating statistically significant difference after adjusting for all potential factors that may be driving up/down those numbers. It would be more meaningful if the author can supply the actual analysis or at least description of the analysis undertaken. As an example, in my opinion it would be highly inappropriate to compare the difference on literacy rate between Gujarat and Kerala to argue that Modi's rule was ineffective. The literacy rate in Kerala has been very high for several decades (probably the highest in the country), and so a decent 'layman comparison' would be by how much Gujarat caught up with Kerala in the last decade.

from:  Ajit
Posted on: May 28, 2014 at 16:44 IST

Important points have been chalked out by the author regarding what was not disclosed while discussing Gujarat's development story. These data comparisons with various States and their results clearly tell that they have outperformed Gujarat. Here I'd like to mention that the author has not shown any data comparison regarding what the position of Gujarat was in all parameter in 2001, and what improvement has been done. If we see and compare the male-female ratio, literacy rate, per capita income, health and safety index, etc. then we find that the graph of development in 13 years in all areas outperform all States. So, there are two sides to the coin, but what is important and what should be considered for the parameter of development all depends upon the individual.

from:  Sumit Gupta
Posted on: May 28, 2014 at 11:13 IST

Good arguments based on well depicted stats are always welcome. This is not something that is unknown to our beloved political leaders, who at present have their own technical teams and stat gurus. However, self proclaimed stats have been long used as a complete eye-wash election campaign tool in a misleading way to create an illusion of development model, especially based on one State, Gujarat. Misinformed people who are quite new to fact based arguments (first time voters) succumb to this as they don't really examine the facts by re-checking through authorized publications rather than simply believing what a politician says. Analysts like Martha Nussbaum and Jean Dreze have done their part by addressing these issues in a professional as well as a practical way. It is in the hands of intellectuals and the educated future of India to consider these facts (such as HDI, BPL, Health, Education, etc.) and play a vital role in practical application by creating awareness among common people.

from:  Nathan
Posted on: May 27, 2014 at 07:39 IST

No offence but stats are always misleading. For example, Kerala has highest literacy rate, great male-female ratio. They have these stats for last 30 years whereas in the last thirty years Gujarat has improved in all sectors. Gujarat is slowly developing in the education and health sectors. You cannot be number one in every sector, even good teams lose some matches. They have challenges, they have done great things to overcome those challenges. If you compare Gujarat's agriculture growth with Punjab, it's not right. Punjab have all the natural resources, whereas Gujarat don't.

from:  Sandip
Posted on: May 26, 2014 at 13:23 IST

The facts stated in the article cannot be denied. The problem with statistics and data is that it could be used by anyone to justify just about anything. In her articles, Prof. Nussbaum has always been critical of Narendra Modi. Yet, she remains silent on the lack of results on these same metrics by the previous government. It is interesting to also note that Prof. Nussbaum often refers to books and papers published by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen, who are also extremely critical of Narendra Modi but have never made a negative comment about the failures of the UPA government and the role of the Gandhi family. I would like to invite Nussbaum, Dreze and Sen to travel to India and find out for themselves why the overwhelming majority of Indians voted for Modi.

from:  Ashim Roy
Posted on: May 25, 2014 at 18:03 IST

It appears a lot of homework has been done by the author to gather data from authentic sources. Well done and deserves admiration. Given the point made by some readers that Gujarat should not be compared with the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala being right, indeed, it is not a comparison with Tamil Nadu and Kerala alone; the author has given enough references to other northern states as well. To the argument to compare pre-Modi with the post-Modi development, one should compare what Bihar was when Nitish Kumar took over and what he could achieve after two years, and also year after year, which is evident. The point here is that the basic principles of development has not been communicated well to the public for which the visual media has played a larger role. This is the biggest challenge of the moment. Media, especially the visual media, should be more responsible and accountable to the public. Let's wish Modi's government will prevail over these considerations.

from:  Nair
Posted on: May 25, 2014 at 14:54 IST

The article clearly shows that the so called Gujarat Model is not superior to other states. It has flaws. It is like the India Shining propaganda by the BJP.

from:  rajan karunakaran
Posted on: May 24, 2014 at 17:48 IST

Very good article. It has brought the hidden reality on growth and the progress of the State.

from:  R.Jagannathan
Posted on: May 23, 2014 at 15:37 IST

Already many have pointed out that the comparisons with the southern States was not fair. Also, the article keeps complaining of no proper plans to address these. I cannot conclusively say both are invalid. But if the author can include some more historic data of Gujarat and the southern States before 2002 and then compare the averages before and after Modi, it'd be more relevant. One thing I can clearly say is that Kerala was comparable in most of these statistics even back in 1990s. Tamil Nadu has definitely improved on literacy rates, but most other statistics were not far behind.

from:  Sreekumar
Posted on: May 22, 2014 at 20:18 IST

I would congratulate the author for her efforts to gain a point for her argument. However, the development of Gujarat, that she talks about, is that of a short span whereas Kerala and Tamil Nadu have had a glorious past; in the spheres of culture, politics, education or others. I hope the next phase of Gujarat's growth will essentially be focused on human development. Overall a good essay.

from:  Nandanan
Posted on: May 22, 2014 at 11:05 IST

What is the impact on these factors by the style of governance by Mr. Modi? That is what appears more important than the present statistics. Probably, if we have the figures before Mr. Modi assumed Chief Ministership and how these have changed during his tenure, that can give a more objective study. The author admits"the history of the south is different from that of Gujarat, and many aspects of culture and tradition are different, so one is comparing against a different baseline" Hence instead of getting bogged down by these statistics, let us admit that the style of Mr. Modi is the need of the hour for the nation. A no nonsense approach, a commitment for development for all, and administrative efficiency, among others should be welcome to those who are interested in our national development.

Posted on: May 22, 2014 at 11:01 IST

Plainly comparing Gujarat model with other successful models in India just in terms of HDI will also be equally unjustified as it would be in case of comparing just in terms of GDP. Many States have developed, so they don't become good or bad when compared to each other. A good model is a good model. The Kerala model as indicated above ensures HDI by providing access to healthcare and education to all. We can summarize overall economy of Kerala as a socialist economy. It should be noted that Kerala has been a comparably developed State for long, receives highest remittance, highest literacy and has lowest population growth rate. But overall India can't afford a socialist economy as it would stutter economic growth and cash flow required for welfare will eventually stop. This is what happened in the last few years of the Congress rule. Gujarat model is required in India because we need more economic freedom and employment to get into a position to start welfare.

from:  Vikash K Thakur
Posted on: May 22, 2014 at 08:31 IST

I will to add a point that it wasn't just Modi who was working hard to sell his development model; he was helped equally by the Indian media and even the Congress party. I have seen dozens of news channels covering every single speech of Modi, but they hardly ever tried to chart some of the parameters in which the State has gained, and compare it with other States.

from:  Ankit mishra
Posted on: May 20, 2014 at 21:07 IST

The most evident factor of Human Development, if one travels in India, is the open defecation. This is still visible in most parts of India except Kerala. Every Indian may have a mobile and a TV but not a toilet. Shows the skewed priorities of the Indian mindset and the ruling elite.

from:  Prakash
Posted on: May 20, 2014 at 14:21 IST

I know people will say the author is biased but they don't want to listen to the truth. If they do, then they won't accept the facts. This is the reason why India is full of terrible politicians since independence.

from:  Lavdeep Singh
Posted on: May 19, 2014 at 11:44 IST

A Rs. 10,000 crore campaign projecting a certain brand of leadership, which boils down to Rs. 100 per countryman is enough to sway convictions of eager believers. Of what use is erudition and reference quotes in dispelling the spin of the propaganda machinery? Add to this, the issue of an eviscerated incumbent, gelded by corrupt scams and his apparent saddle weariness and voila. The electorate suddenly has a choice. Yet, as the author has highlighted, the DNA of development is not indicative of a muscular leadership that respects humans, but rather relies on business development and capital appreciation to do the needful in that regard. If it works for the nation, it will be an instance that the scholars can at least quote as reference for the future. If it does not, there will anyway be another election in another five years. Que sera, sera.

from:  Mushtaqh Ali
Posted on: May 16, 2014 at 22:06 IST

Historically (1930's onwards) Kerala has had a good HDI thanks to the culture and the average social Malayalee diaspora. Education and rational thinking formed the base for this but major concern is majority of working population living outside Kerala. Growth in Tamil Nadu is certainly to praise for and look into because it started after the late 1960s and 1970s, thanks to the schemes of the government. Also, the thought process of people in these States are different. So the means of comparing Gujarat should be to compare Gujarat before Narendra Modi and during, and not with other States as Martha has done here. Let her get the data for all the points pre and post and let us then sit and compare, is that not the ideal comparison? It is like taking a mango and an apple and asking which is the better mango of the two.

from:  ram
Posted on: May 16, 2014 at 09:27 IST

The article starts of well in stating the growth should be based on Human Development Index and finally it lays down the parameters for the same. However, where it fails to catch the attention or prove a point is that no data available to compare it correctly. It is as simple as saying that if the car is good and still running, only two things are certain: one, the owner maintains it correctly and two, he is driving with care. So with that being said, the argument that the State of Gujarat was good or bad before Modi, or it has not changed after Modi, is ridiculous because if it was not maintained then the car would be thrown off the road. So, as an optimistic Indian, I am looking forward to a new era of India's politics that can encourage, enrich and empower us as a human first and then as an Indian.

from:  Guna
Posted on: May 16, 2014 at 04:59 IST

I have gone through the write up of the learned author & renowned Martha C. Nussbaum. This is based on the various data figured on the various governmental websites and references also used of Drèze and Sen's. When there is some other government at the Centre, data may be tampered for the purpose of falsifying some State governments. And basically, Mr. Sen is publicly opposed to Mr. Modi as Indian's next head of office. Many questions are raised in many minds about the authenticity of the books concerned. I have full respect for the all learned authors related to the references. UPA government's economic policy was based on some bad policy makers. I think all the system should be reformed from the ground level and the system should be restored for the sake of Indian democracy. Vote bank policies should be changed and then we will have some better prospect about India economy.

from:  Anindya Acharya
Posted on: May 15, 2014 at 16:30 IST

Yes you are right that Gujarat is far behind the indices of education, sex ratio as well language barrier. But Modi has used his brain and convinced the people of Gujarat by making roads, development of tourism places and through various advertisements. He has done good work in rural areas by making roads and schools as well as small dispensary. He has great administration skills through which he can engage government employees in training, elections as well other social works. Congress was in power for the last ten years but they weren't able to utilize their employees. Moreover, they had poor execution skills in all projects. They are good at making policies but have poor management style for implementation.

from:  Hitesh Talsaniya
Posted on: May 15, 2014 at 10:14 IST

Why doesn't she comment about the abject racism and bigotry prevalent in the US? Why doesn't she expose the racism that is in the DNA of this nation that has the shamelessness to talk about the human right violation in other countries? This is truly annoying and irritating.

from:  Maddie Shaw
Posted on: May 15, 2014 at 05:39 IST

While the author's analysis is very analytical, it does not analyse the failure of the Congress on all counts both at the Centre and the States it has ruled. You are comparing Kerala and Tamil Nadu in which great leaders before and after independence have worked hard for social equity, including the rulers and dewans. Also, after Independence, even Congress leaders like C. Rajgopalachari and Kamraj had great vision; all of these resulted in long periods of good governance. In Gujarat, before Narendra Modi, you had Congress who did not do much and Modi had to do catch up. All these historical facts the author has not indicated or has not studied. Hence this is purely a one-sided analysis.

from:  Vatsan
Posted on: May 15, 2014 at 04:52 IST

We can't expect an independent unbiased article from the author.

from:  rajesh
Posted on: May 14, 2014 at 06:41 IST

Isn't the mark of performance in changing the situation. Should the improvements from 2002 until the present be measured instead of just looking at absolute measures? Should changes in indices be a truer measure? Article has shown no such trend. Would leave it to the reader to draw conclusions.

from:  AK
Posted on: May 13, 2014 at 21:37 IST

Much ado about nothing. The alternative is the government that salts away money in Swiss banks. We'd rather have a government that attempts to address issues rather than one that pretends to while lining the pockets of its leaders and assorted hanger-ons. And I think the election results will tell us what a majority of Indians think.

from:  Deepak Challam
Posted on: May 13, 2014 at 17:12 IST

Granted that the Gujarat model has its flaws. There are various aspects of development. Where do you account for people behaviour? In Tamil Nadu, admittedly ahead in many human development indices, there is rampant bribe-taking and giving for votes. How does Gujarat fare on that count? I am sure they are backward in that aspect too.

from:  g.s.nadadhur
Posted on: May 13, 2014 at 15:44 IST

There is a significant difference between political philosophy and political reality. The article looks like a statistical philosophy.

from:  Balaji Raghunath
Posted on: May 13, 2014 at 13:40 IST

The wisdom says, 'accept what makes sense to you'. Such explanations are taxing and not worth. Other states which may look better on some parameters, they are not so good for the pubic. Mr. Amartya Sen's explanation for Mr. Nitish Kumar and CPI (M) in West Bengal are some examples.

from:  Hareram
Posted on: May 12, 2014 at 17:24 IST

I don't consider the Gujarat Model as the best. One may find out many glitches in that. But undoubtedly, Gujarat is considered as one of the most developed States. Indicators like Human Development Index, per capita income, etc. may represent a very true and clear picture of development but in India where poverty, unemployment, etc. prevails at a very large scale these indicators have some limitations. As a common man, I expect 24-hr electric supply, good governance, travel-worthy roads and security from our Government. I am quite happy to find all these in Gujarat. One thing I must confess is that I belong to north India and have been living here for 5 years.

from:  Agnihotri Prashant
Posted on: May 12, 2014 at 16:17 IST

Agreed that Modi's Gujarat model has its own faults. However, what should be noticed is the fact the Congress' "controlled-growth" model has failed. They procrastinated on crucial issues for too long && the common man paid the price for it. It was the middle class which faced the brunt of this huge collasal drama. At least Modi will take steps which can help the poor in the long run, perhaps 10 years from now, and will provide succour to the middle class families.

from:  sachin kumar
Posted on: May 11, 2014 at 19:56 IST

Ms. Nussbaum's arguments are compelling and backed with solid statistical evidence. There cannot be any doubt about this. However, most of her comments are universal in nature and are applicable to all States and all nations.
The southern States of our country are far ahead in HDI parameters as compared to the other States. This has been possible because of the grassroots political consciousness and participation in those States. The common man has actively participated in governance and has never hesitated in bringing down a government that has not performed.
It is time for the other States to pull up their socks.

from:  Avishek Deb
Posted on: May 11, 2014 at 14:30 IST

No doubt, development is more than growth and what is required is people-centric development. While admitting that Gujarat model is debatable on this account, analysis of statistics or data on a couple of development indicators may not reflect the true situation. As rightly observed, the history of the South is entirely different from that of Gujarat with different demographic pattern ,culture and tradition and socio economic political legacy. The South, notably Kerala, had a long history of social and political movements which contributed to great strides in the areas of development-education, healthcare and sanitation. Even, this 'Kerala model development' has virtually neglected the peripheral communities like Adivasis and dalits who are better placed in Gujarat.. The case of Tamil Nadu is also not different. Thus, no parallel can be drawn on the achievements of Gujarat during the last one decade with that of States like Kerala during the last 100 years or more.

from:  K.V. Thomas
Posted on: May 8, 2014 at 15:20 IST

There is no denying the facts that there are so many glitches in the Gujarat Development Model, but who are we to judge this? Let us leave it to the intelligence of the masses to decide.

from:  Umed Mehta
Posted on: May 8, 2014 at 15:11 IST
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