Mgadhavi1 | 12 Mar 2014

A lot of commentators and analysts praised the merits of Narendra Modi by promoting the Gujarat economic miracle. According to bulk of them, he could drive India to economic success thanks to his considerable experience as a CM. Indeed, Gujarat has been experiencing a double-digit growth between 2001 and 2013 under his leadership. But no one knows if this pattern could be repeated at the national scale, and moreover, if this pattern is desirable for India. Because not everyone has enjoyed the benefits of economic growth in Gujarat.

There is a huge gap between leading a state as a CM, and ruling a Nation in a single and common policy as a PM, with a diversity of communities. According to Shabnam Hashmi, responsible of NGO Act for Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD), “a dream of development is being shown to the people of India… But that is not the reality. There is another side to the story of Gujarat, which people don’t get to know”. Actually, Gujarat’s rank on the Human Development Index was reduced from 5th in 1996 to 9th in 2006 among Indian states. Besides, according to the 2011 India Human Development Report, it is the worst performer in child malnutrition with 69.7% of children (up to the age of 5) anemic and 44.6% malnourished!

How to explain such a bad performance despite the exceptional economic growth? Only a small fraction of the Gujarat’s population really takes profit from economic development. Health indicators for the scheduled tribes (STs) are worse than that at the national level, and also poorer than that for other social groups in the state. On the religious side, even though Narendra Modi has been given a “clean chit” by the court, he is indirectly responsible for the 2002 Gujarat riots which caused 1,000 deaths among the Muslim community. For those who stayed in the region, Modi’s mandate means only ostracism: “Modi should have made efforts to reach out to the Muslim community. He has left no window open” says Hanif Lakdawala, founder of human rights organisation Sanchetana.

In spite of improving the global population living conditions, the economic model promoted by Narendra Modi has aggravated the gap between Gujarati and the other communities. The need of low-cost workers has led to the massive immigration of thousands of laborers from the poorest states of India like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh. And yet, this cheap workforce was one of the main arguments to convince companies to set up in Gujarat. Indeed, “Gujarati prefer to work on light job, but not on heavy work” Ramesh Kasondra, director of local NGO Gram Vikas Trust, says. That is why the Modi’s government complacently let companies, like Rockwool of Denmark (manufacturer of stone wool insulation products), set slavery-like employment systems, denounced by Indian Issues Network documentary “Dahej SEZ: our future?”.

Muslims, scheduled tribes, migrant workers… these marginalized communities explain the paradox of Modi’s actions in Gujarat: a sustained growth of the economy, but a complete decline of human development. Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen summarised this feeling: “What has been rather efficient in business [in Gujarat] has not been so efficient on things that we are trying to concentrate in India - to have a healthy, educated labour force”.

According to the Global Hunger Index, if India ranks 66 among the 88 countries listed, Gujarat is among the 5 worst Indian states. Modi’s economic plan was made to improve Gujarati’s quality of life, but only Gujarati’s ones. And yet a PM mandate implies to conduct a common policy which profit to everyone, without ethnic, caste, religious or social distinction. After dozen years of regional power which only benefited to Gujarati, is Modi able to face a national destiny for all Indians? Nothing sure about it.