Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gujarat’s Decade under Modi

by Mallika Sarabhai

Oct 7 2011

Imagine for a moment the State as a person standing before you. He is well dressed, in new clothes everyday. He has an expensive watch, several fancy cell phones, a beautifully kept hairdo, and smells of expensive perfumes. You will think, What a successful and prosperous man. Look inside his body. The kidneys have been sold. The heart is held together with ten stents. The liver has stopped functioning. He is brain dead. Will you still look at the outward appearance and not at the truth?

This is Gujarat after ten years of Modi. The State is bankrupt. The environment is destroyed. The Narmada waters are diverted to feed big industries. 21 lakh farmers have lost their top soils and have received no compensation. Practically every big scheme of the government is caught in huge corruption scandals that remain unaddressed. Dalits and Adivasis are routinely boycotted from villages and get no protection or justice. There has been no Lokayukta for close to 8 years so no government scams can ne looked into. The Assembly sits for fewer and fewer days each year making a mockery ofdemocracy. Farmers who have no irrigation but have their own pumps can not run them as close to Rs 1 lakh is demanded from them to getelectricity poles up. Transport has been privatised and buses run only on lucrative routes. With some of the best roads in the country, a pregnant village woman still can't get medical aid. Her primary health centre has no doctor, and her village is not connected to the good road. Besides which bus would she take anyway? The labour courts haven't dealt with over 16000 cases. Education is unaffordable for the poor and not a single public hospital has been set up in ten years. Schools for the poor are routinely shut down. 1000 people commit suicide every year due to economic distress and crimes against womenhave gone up three fold. And the poor starve.

And Modi claims he has made Gujarat prosperous. Time to remind ourselves of what we were before 2001.

In 1991 17940 out of 18028 villages were electrified. 87% of our roads were asphalted. In 2001 Gujarat's share in manufacturing in India was 28.7% and between 1994 and 2001 the State's domestic production grew between 10 and 13% every year. The world's largest ship breaking in Alang and the Ambani's refinery in Jamnagar both came way before Modi. Well before Modi we accounted for 45% of India's petroleum production, 78% of salt, 26% of pharmaceutical products and 23% of crude oil requirements. Because of Chimanbhai Patel's intervention in 1993, port traffic, a mere 3.18 million tonnes in 1981, rose to 86.17 million tonnes by 2001. Electiricity production rose 35% during the 90s.

So let's look beyond the image and try and regain genuine health. Or we will be dead soon, even if we make a pretty corpse in our new clothes.


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