People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 44

November 04, 2012

‘Vibrant Gujarat

Hegemonic Campaign of Hindutva’s Capitalism


Archana Prasad


BEFORE the 2004 elections the BJP led coalition government led an ambitious and aggressive India shining campaign in the hope that it will get re-elected to power. The election results showed that it had failed to fool the common voters and hide its inability to govern.


Today, when Gujarat faces its third election after the genocide of 2002, Narendra Modi and his supporters have launched a hegemonic ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ campaign that projects the state as a role model for the rest of the country, especially with respect to effective governance and economic development. Thus Narendra Modi is not only the ‘best CM’ but also the best ‘potential candidate for PM.’ Surveys done by the corporate media not only seek to strengthen this position but also create a public consensus for the acceptance of Narendra Modi as a national leader, thereby implying that the communal and fascistic character of Gujarat’s capitalist development should be forgotten. The unity of purpose between Modi’s campaign and the media blitz that accompanies it is part of a larger game plan that is set to achieve not only Hindutva’s victory but also the success of neo-liberal corporate capitalism that structures the entire economic and social structure of the state. Hence there is an urgency to carry out a vigorous campaign to demystify the ‘vibrant Gujarat’ image and show how the interests of Hindutva politics and corporate capitalism have converged in this state at the expense of its citizens.




Narendra Modi started the ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summits in 2003 as a way of making the state the most coveted destination for private corporate investments. By 2010 industry leaders claimed that that private participation had put the manufacturing sector of the state at the top of the investment ladder. Thus the CII and ASSOCHAM claimed that more that one fifth of the total investment in India was going into Gujarat. Modi was touted as a good manager and an able non-corrupt chief minister who could manage labour and industry.


Yet despite this created hype, the state was not able to meet the investment expectations. For example, in 2005, Modi claimed that he had attracted Rs 1.06 lakh crore in investments, but an RTI query revealed that the actual investment was only 74,000.1 crore. Of this, projects worth only Rs 24.12 crore became operational. Similarly, in 2007, the state government claimed that over Rs 4.6 lakh crore were invested in the state, but in actuality only projects worth Rs 1.22 lakh crore become operational in the state. Of all the investment in the state from 2003 to 2007, only 20.58 per cent of the projects were implemented in reality.


It is therefore quite clear that the corporate houses who invest in Gujarat are not making any productive contribution to its growth but are taking advantage of the open invitation to make unproductive investments there. Such unproductive investments are profitable as Gujarat promises to provide cheap land and soft loans to the corporate houses that are seeking to get high returns without reinvesting within the state. Hence the Gujarat pattern of investment is not based on a quid pro quo between Modi and the corporate houses who provide him political certificates and cover in return for the favours he grants them.




Further, the limited expansion of industry is capital intensive and has an adverse impact on the employment situation. A study conducted by researchers from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and funded by the Institute of Development Communication (IDC), Chandigarh, shows that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of employment, for the period of 1993-94 to 2004-05,  was only 2.69 per cent per annum whereas during 2004-05 to 2009-10 it came down to almost zero. Employment has fallen in the manufacturing and primary sector between 2005 and 2010, despite private investment, and the marginal growth in urban employment was largely casual in nature.


Further data on the employment structure for the marginalised social groups have shown a reverse trend where the gains of diversification of the 1990s have been lost and their dependence on commercial and contract farming has increased. However, this does not offer regular employment. Moreover, the scheduled tribes and religious minorities have only a marginal share in the opportunities of regular employment. What is significant is that this share has remained stagnant since 1993-94 when the scheduled tribes had seven per cent and the Muslims had 15 per cent of the opportunities of regular employment.


The much touted manufacturing sector too is characterised by low employment generation, slow growth in wages (1.5 per annum in the decade of 2000), and increasing use of contract workers whose share in employment increased from 19 to 34 per cent between 2001 and 2008.


This marginalisation of employment has adversely reflected on the condition of peasants and workers in the state. It is significant that the Economic Survey of 2011-12 identifies Gujarat as one of the states with the most number of lockouts and strikes, largely due to low wages and the non-payment of dues. Further, 16,000 farmers have committed suicide during Modi’s tenure as a result of the dispossession which his land policies have caused.




The dark side of the state’s growth story, indeed, lies its rising inequalities as reflected in the increasing numbers of the rural and urban poor. In 2011, about 31.8 per cent of India’s poor lived in a state that claims to have some of the wealthiest people. The research done by scholars from JNU also shows that aggregate inequality has increased in the state in the last five years. The average monthly consumption expenditure in Gujarat during 2005-10, barely equalled the national average. And even though there was reduction in poverty between 2005 and 2010, the rate of this decline in Gujarat was much lower than in states with comparable growth rates. The study further shows that the head count ratio of poverty in the state 26.63 was higher than that in Maharashtra and Tamilnadu which have similar investment patterns and growth rates.


This is reflected in the poor health and education position of the state. In terms of the education and literacy the position of the state declined. The annual status report on education (Pratham, 2011) shows that the Gujarat figures even below Bihar in terms of educational status. Further, the state is known to have a fairly high level of malnutrition. The state ranked a lowly 10 in the rate of decline of infantile mortality, and its sex ratio has deteriorated from 921 to 918 between the Census 2001 and Census 2011. One of the main causes for such an abysmal performance is the negligence of the state government towards its social responsibility. In February 2007, the Reserve Bank of India evaluated Gujarat as ranking 17 among the 18 states which it evaluated on the scale of their social sector expenditures. The IDC-JNU study shows that the government expenditure on education as a proportion to total expenditure is lower in Gujarat than in all other states and it has been falling since 1999-2000 at a much faster rate than the combined figure for all the states. In regard to health too, the state’s share of expenditure is less than the national average. Further, there is a very high reliance on the private sector in Gujarat --- both in the rural and the urban areas. This gets reflected in the fact that there is a decline in the use of government run health services across all the income groups, barring the lowest income group in rural areas. Thus the Gujarat model has failed to spread prosperity among its own citizens.


It is clear that Narendra Modi’s aggressive media campaign is nothing but a way of camouflaging the failures of his government and maintaining the dominance of the unholy alliance between Hindutva and corporate capitalism which is harming the most deprived sections of Gujarat’s population. It is essential to counter this campaign by using innovative cultural and political methods. A demystification of the ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ campaign is essential not only for the people of the state, but also for the people of the nation as the union government is carrying out similar structural adjustments with a vengeance. This season of elections presents for the democratic movement a good moment for such a broad based campaign and for starting a long term counter hegemonic process within the state.