Indian democracy at Cross-roads 6: Economic Models-Gujarat Model vs. AAP Model


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By Philip Mudartha
Bellevision Media Network


India is due to face one of the greatest challenges within few weeks when 81.45 crores of voters will cast their votes in the general election to elect 543 members of the sixteenth Lok Sabha. The general election will be held in nine phases, the longest election in the country’s history, from 7 April to 12 May 2014. Voting will take place in all 543 parliamentary constituencies of India. The result of this election will be declared on 16 May 2014, before the 15th Lok Sabha completes its constitutional mandate on 31 May 2014.

 

There is a lot of speculation all-around regarding the possible outcome of the general election. It seems that the wind is clearly blowing in the direction of the Narendra Modi led BJP and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which is predicted to sweep the polls whereas the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is being written off as the party and alliance that is doomed to utter failure.

 

In spite of these predictions, one cannot underestimate the regional parties who collectively can topple the applecart of the NDA by coming together on a common platform in the form of a Third Front. But one cannot forget the previous experiments with such a possibility as each of the regional leaders entertain an ambition of becoming Prime Minister. Hence, their efforts would be to win the maximum number of seats so that they could have bargaining power to put forward their own claim for the Prime Ministerial Chair.

 

A lot of churning is going on in the political ocean as alliances are being formed and disgruntled ticket-losers in one party jumping the bandwagon of other parties. As winning is the prime ‘mantra’ of all political parties, they are in the process of fielding candidates with criminal background and corrupt practices. The general election of 2014 has been generating a lot of heat and dust. As such it would be interesting to be a witness to the historical event by understanding the forces and personalities that shape the future of this great country. Bellevision.com would bring out analytical articles by experts on the forthcoming elections that would provide insight into the historical general election of 2014. 

- Bellevision.com Team

 

 

01 April 2014: I suggested going to Vadodara by car. But my American friend won’t trust Indian roads. He is scared of ending up in a body bag. We mutual consent, we take 12009/Mumbai Central- Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express. The 393 Km trip to Vadodara junction took 5 hours. We left and arrived on schedule and in very good shape. In fact, it is among one of the best train journeys I have undertaken in India. Namo brigades may claim credit for both comfort and punctuality of the train is due to Modi. That is their habit!

 

I return solo and take to road. After all, my fate is in God’s hands. The obvious advantage is I get to break my journey as many times to drink chai and meet local people.  More importantly, my driver is among the better political analysts; only my barber in Mumbai knows best.

 

I am not alone in deciding to take a first-hand look at Gujarat and its development story. Guardians of the famed Kerala model of development were ahead me. A crack team of ten Kerala MLAs led by senior-most cabinet minister, KM Mani, made a field trip to Surat to study the city’s famous garbage disposal systems. They had a garbage problem in Kerala. They were looking if Gujarat model had a working and viable solution.

 

I break my journey from Vadodara in many towns on the way including in Surat. My hotel in Surat was on the river front. But, my bedroom view included a huge garbage dump across the street. Cows, dogs and crows scavenged throughout the day. My BJP fans can hurl their lotuses at me. But, let me tell them that my association with Surat goes way back to 1987. It was then our dirtiest city. In 1994, Surat became internationally infamous for pneumonic plague.  52 people died and 900,000 fled the city. Animal carcases rotted on the streets. Panic spread internationally. Plane-loads of Indian travellers were quarantined at foreign airports. I too did undergo precautionary procedures upon arriving in humid Doha from a wet but safe Mumbai. The current Kerala government does not remember that problem fell on Suryadevara Ramachandra Rao (SRR), a Gujarat Cadre IAS officer of 1978 batch hailing from Andhra Pradesh. The incoming BJP government under Keshubhai Patel can at best claim the credit for appointing a no-nonsense competent administrator as Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) Commissioner. It is the same Keshubhai Patel, whom BJP dumped in favour of Narendra Modi in October 2001. The outgoing CM was accused of following his mishandling of relief works during 2001 Bhuj Earthquake.

 

SRR took over as SMC Commissioner in May 1995 and turned the dirtiest city into second cleanest in India within 18 months. In this monumental task, among the challenges he faced included threats to his life and unprecedented pressure from politicians and their cronies. 98 of 99 SMC corporators were from BJP with a single INC party member. Such was the rout of INC in Gujarat in local body elections. CM Keshubhai Patel had termed the total and clean sweep by BJP and demolition of Gujarat Congress as the handiwork of hard-working and grass-root political work of Narendra Modi, then General Secretary of Gujarat BJP.

 

It is obvious if SRR generated extreme reactions from powerful politicians, and each day in office seemed to be his last day, then we can estimate how political power corrupts. The party with a difference, BJP, newly in power at all levels in the state was not immune to this disease. They put imaginative hurdles at him. But he was not deterred by the hatred of builders, contractors and other vested interests. The respect and admiration from Surat residents, especially the slum dwellers, who formed more than 40% of city population, sustained his morale. With determination and commitment, he cleaned the city and make it epidemic free. It is the common man, including the miserably low paid migrant workforce 80% of whom lived in extreme squalor and poverty, who stood by him. Migrant workers are engines of growth in a Gujarat Model, just as expatriates in every Arab Gulf countries are, but also are primary targets of strong arm of law, harassment by police, goons and slumlords controlled by city underground and politicians. Gujarat Model thrived during any party rule: Congress, Janata, BJP or Gujarat State Parties formed by INC/BJP rebels.  Crony capitalism and exploitation of industrial labour are hallmarks of Gujarat Model.

 

How did SRR accomplish the impossible task of operation clean-up under the hawkish eyes of a Gujarat Model? Simple; he broke its rules and traditions. He used two administrative innovations. First is AC to DC; second is six-by-six-by six. AC is Air Conditioned Chambers in the Corporation. DC is Daily Chores on the streets. Beginning at 7:00 a.m. every day, he would meet all the six zone officers under his command to verify that the municipal sweepers, garbage handlers are actually at work and have fulfilled the contractual details of the tenders. Their invoices will only be paid upon certification by zone officers. He brought in accountability but followed it by empowerment as well as delegation of decision-making authority. His predecessor was taking 666 decisions each day sitting in his AC chamber. By delegation and empowerment of his subordinate organization, he reduced his daily own decisions to 66. And most of these decisions were taken not in his AC chamber but out on the streets.

 

Did the city sweepers like him? Did their supervisors like him? Did the officers like him? Did the corporators like him?  A lot of subordinates resigned and left municipal jobs within first few months. But he was resolute: Shape up or ship out!

 

Sounds familiar? Do you remember a man named Arvind Kejriwal who was sworn in CM on Dec 28, 2013 to govern from Secretariat of Delhi NCT? The no-nonsense madcap CM belonging to AAP with broom as party symbol threatened to sweep the corrupt and criminal politicians and government workers into dust bin of history. He threatened to send them to jail under Delhi Jan Lok Pal Act. If only, he could make the law. The corrupt INC and BJP joined together, allegedly at the behest of crony capitalists from Gujarat, saw to it that the man did not succeed in fulfilling his mission. It is life and death duel between Gujarat Model and AAP model.

 

The AAP model worked in Surat in 1995. Its executioner, SRR is the only civil servant to be awarded a Padma Shri. He too was shunted out from Surat as soon as the city got the award. Thereafter, whichever post was given to him in state and central secretariats, he has left his mark executing the AAP model.  In May 2012, he became Union Commerce Secretary. I will research our export-import statistics for two years under his command of the ministry and prove that success of committed individuals is possible even in a bad system.

 

The AAP model implies a change of governance system. It is not an economic model as Gujarat Model is meant to be. It is not necessary that AAP should come to power. This model requires solely clean, non-corrupt, non-corruptible and committed individuals in positions of power. Even so, an AAP model of economic development is being worked out by teams of highly qualified and world renowned economists and thinkers. Common folks from all walks of life are often wiser than experts. Their participation is a key requirement in order to evolve a new path. But at its core, the AAP model is pro-business and pro-trade under a free-market with level playing field for the weak and mighty. It is a model where governments do not throttle individual enterprise. It is a model where big sharks in business are not protected and even helped by law in their manipulations of swallowing the small fish. It is a model which deals a death blow to crony capitalism. It is a liberating libertarianism, if a word is needed to define it in economic philosophy.

 

 

There is no doubt Gujarat is the richest among larger states. Manufacturing, agriculture and tourism are three top earners besides trade (services). Surat is the diamond capital of our country. Walk down Surat streets for finest handicrafts and silks bazaars.  Stop at any eatery, food is never more salty anywhere else in India. No wonder, Mahatma Gandhi chose Dandi in Gujarat for his salt Satyagraha in 1930. Want to try chicken masala? Learn deep curry exploration in a sea of oil to get at a few pieces of chicken buried under mountains of potato. Chai pe charcha, anyone?  Don’t ever dare, if you are a diabetic. It is just too much sugary.

 

I ate vegetarian thali with a Maharashtra businessman based in Vadodara. He has moved from Pune to a small gala in an industrial estate in a farming village lying off Ahmedabad-Mumbai expressway. Why did he move? Expensive land, aggressive and lazier labour, small-time political goondagiri in Pune are a few reasons he cites. Has Modi anything to do with it? He evades direct answer but prefers diplomacy by saying Gujarati are by nature business-friendly. This means labour laws are pro-business community who are mostly Gujarati want to keep wages low. The Marathi trade unionists have upper hand in state politics and the workforce, even if it comprises migrants, enjoys political clout in Maharashtra through union memberships.

 

Why the share of manufacturing in Gujarat GDP is 38% for FY-2012? The figures for Karnataka are 27% and West Bengal 18%.  Is Modi pro-big business whereas Mamata is anti-big business? Why did Tata move their Nano car project to Gujarat from West Bengal? He wants me to find out and let him know, very clever!

 

Do I know the answer? Yes; the industrial base in Gujarat precedes independence with colonial era textile mills. After independence, many central government undertakings under Nehru’s dream of promoting heavy industries went to Gujarat. Eminent nuclear scientist Vikram Sarabhai gave a BARC reactor to Gujarat, paving the way to become nation’s top nuclear power generating state. Many coal and gas based electricity generation and fertilizer plants were commissioned once again making Gujarat a top power generation state. The HBJ gas pipeline of the seventies, O&G explorations in Bay of Cambay off Kutch-Gujarat by ONGC, OIL, GAIL, Cairns India and setting up petroleum and petrochemical industries made Gujarat our top chemical producer state. Of course, RIL set up mega-refinery at Jamnagar because of its proximity to crude oil shipping lanes and a vibrant shipping industry inherited from British era. These are the foundations on which Modi has walked the path with ambition and passion during his 12 years as CM. He cannot change course and stunt manufacturing and industry even is he wanted. But to his credit, he does not want it to slow down, environment and migrant workers be damned. The managers, engineers, supervisors and workmen come from all states and the minority is Gujarati. The Gujarati invests and gets his dividends off someone else’s labour.

 

I went to meet with an old friend in my industry, whose father and uncles still cultivate their ancestral lands in villages near Bharuch. I instructed my driver to exit NH8 and enter Bharuch City through SH228. It was arranged that the farmer father would meet us at the exit of Golden Bridge. This bridge was built by British over Narmada River in 1881 and is still in very good shape. We sat by roadside at the bridge exit towards Ankleshwar, under the open sky and drink; guess what? Sugary Chai!

 

 

Gujarat is rich, but they are not getting richer as fast as other states in India in recent years.  As they catch up, the poorly-paid Bihari workmen will leave Gujarat followed by the Odiya and Bhaiyya. Keralites might stay back; because, under Kerala Model, back home there are not too many takers for their industrial skills. Unless, they are all needed in the Arab Gulf!

 

Moving south on NH8 on my way to Mumbai, I decided to meet an uncle farmer of a friend in a village near Daman. My host had already dutifully arranged Scotch and non-vegetarian Chakna to go with the pegs. Did he make a quick run to Daman and back? No Sir-ji, local mein jugaad hei!

 

I slept overnight in the courtyard on a jute rope cot; nothing unusual. I have spent nights in villages in all three coastal districts of Karnataka and Kerala. Same DC, no AC. (Recently, I slept in Pambur at a bus stand)

 

Next morning, we drove on a village road that was under knee-deep in water. No, it had not rained. An irrigation water pipe had burst. It happens frequently. The road was full of pot-holes. My driver tried to avoid them without much success. The village roads are as bad as or even worse than they are in villages in Karnataka. I felt the shocks in my hired air-conditioned SUV. For me, NH8 was the saviour. Once on NH8, in twenty minutes flat, we crossed into Maajya (my) Maharashtra, leaving behind the smoke chimneys of industries on the outskirts of Vapi. But, the respite did not last long. Towns along NH8 right into Mumbai’s northern suburbs are as polluted as they are in southern Gujarat.

 

To escape the pollution, I went to Goa. Its CM Manohar Parrikar is talk-of-town with everyone who is okay with BJP but can’t stand Modi. There is a Goa Model at work there. Though most of us think that Goa Model means booze and sex on its pristine beaches, industry and manufacturing contribute 48% to its GDP. Goan is twice as rich as Gujarati, well almost, speaking in average terms. It is difficult to believe, but is true. Popular perception is based on visibility of super-rich Gujarati individuals. In Goa, millionaires go about their business bare-chested with half-pants and a hat on their head looking like paupers.

 

The services sector comes second at 46%, leaving agriculture at poor third at ~5%.  On a Konkan Railway train trip, processed Goan cashew nuts may be our favourite purchase, but that is because Goan liquor is not permitted for sale on board. See, jo dikhta hei who hei nahim!

 

 

Where do Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal fit in this story about a hyped success called Gujarat Model and a much vilified, misunderstood, yet to be articulated AAP model? My discerning readers have read between the lines and know the difference. For theoreticians, an academic style economics chapter is possible in the future.

 

 

ALso Read

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments on this Article
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Sun, April-6-2014, 8:25
I am overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of young Indians, resident and nonresident, towards the real political change sweeping India: emergence of AAP as a credible long term alternative to business as usual politics of all national parties. Besides comments here, I have received personal communications endorsing the theme of the article. Most are aware that India-2014 is not yet ready for real change. But it will; 2019? Time will tell. Seeds are sown and germination is in process. The fields have pests and weeds, which will have to be dealt with owners of the fields, so right crop can be harvested. To that end, I will continue to write a few sequels even after the next government takes office.
MichaelSequeira, Pamboor Sat, April-5-2014, 3:00
My comments are exactly like that of Baptist Sequeira.I commend SRR Model.I know Mudartha is for SRR/AAP Model.What do we need in a society??Who will deliver SRR style??Not for power but for service delivery.This article should be published in main stream newspapers for the masses to have an analysis and to make a opinion.
Baptist Sequeira, Moodubelle Fri, April-4-2014, 2:17
Best part to re-read in the article of Philip : The AAP model implies a change of governance system. It is not an economic model as Gujarat Model is meant to be. It is not necessary that AAP should come to power. This model requires solely clean, non-corrupt, non-corruptible and committed individuals in positions of power. Even so, an AAP model of economic development is being worked out by teams of highly qualified and world renowned economists and thinkers. Common folks from all walks of life are often wiser than experts. Their participation is a key requirement in order to evolve a new path. But at its core, the AAP model is pro-business and pro-trade under a free-market with level playing field for the weak and mighty. It is a model where governments do not throttle individual enterprise. It is a model where big sharks in business are not protected and even helped by law in their manipulations of swallowing the small fish. It is a model which deals a death blow to crony capitalism. It is a liberating libertarianism, if a word is needed to define it in economic philosophy.
Baptist Sequeira, Moodubelle Fri, April-4-2014, 2:14
For the Mathew s comment... Sad thing of Indian education is it does not teach self thinking and reasoning. So having a chromosome of slaves all of our youth first be lethargic and will not use brain to think, they will not enjoy or take a courage to enjoy democracy... and lastly only end up their grievance with a cynical comments and continue the same life... same marriage... building house... children schooling... searching jobs for children.. and paying bribe in all the above needs... But who ever in AAP wave... will be the first people in modern India because we have many leaders but others have only Modi and Rahul as leaders...
Baptist Sequeira, Moodubelle Fri, April-4-2014, 2:08
Philip sir, I am very happy that intellectuals like you are guiding us to have the hopes in AK and in AAP. AK is not failed in Delhi. But if he had constrained himself in Delhi the wave of AAP would not have reached Indian when election wind was there. Secondly if the success graph was only upside there would not have much criticism and analysis. Now again Delhi people are given a choice... elect again corrupt or trust the truthful and honest... because ultimately our future we only have to decide. Not AK, not AAP or anybody... Let us wait for next assembly election of Delhi... BJP and INC might have got a small gain by AK s resignation but it may not last ling... now it has been a very broad and solid foundation for a revolution, and the result will be 2019 election...
Philip Mudartha, Traveling in Maharashtra Fri, April-4-2014, 12:30
I appreciate and value my views expressed by readers and look forward to write more until the next government takes office in Delhi. I feel honored that one among the commentator has endorsed me as a potential AAP candidate. Under existing electoral laws, that number will have to multiply a thousand fold, a target achievable in 2-3 years from now on, God willing.
Amith, udupi Thu, April-3-2014, 3:24
Dear Philip , Nice article its good to know that you are investing your time on a noble cause to find out in person what the politicians are talking about various models and the reality of each models . unfortunately the only models which are followed by youngsters are the one which appear on lakmi fashion weeks . Anyone can say anything the basic mentality of the masses is No body gives a damn about any person if they dont get something for them. its a pity when we see that politicians who held offices for 2 to 3 years have assests worth 150 crores and we spend 20 years on educating ourselves to earn a decent living and still do not manage to save much for our future . this whole democracy thing is a sham and a hog wash the nation spends billions to elect uneducated goons who make millions and people like us can only watch and sigh . I personally look forward to your articles it has a lot of facts which many of us are unaware of , keep them coming
Mathew Miranda, Mangalore Wed, April-2-2014, 2:07
For those who question this new political party, this write up gives good reasoning and explanation. But sadly our educated and intellectual people do not see the merit. Majority go by old style politics of caste, religion, state .... etc. I hope people will support this new idea of democratic governance as time is running out very fast
Lawrence Mendonca, Doha Wed, April-2-2014, 2:04
I read your whole article twice just to understand the between the line meanings, several places I laughed to myself. The way in which you have weaved your whole presentation is superb. I feel you need to be the AAP candidate of Udupi constituency. Surely we all will come down and support you. Its time to support genuine democratic politics which is truly represented by AAP
Indian, India Wed, April-2-2014, 5:44
Is AAP is just an alternative to those who do not want to support communal BJP and cannot support corrupt Congress ?
Valerian Alva, Moodubelle / Sharjah Wed, April-2-2014, 12:44
Superb analysis. Your words "The AAP model implies a change of governance system. It is not an economic model as Gujarat Model is meant to be. It is not necessary that AAP should come to power. This model requires solely clean, non-corrupt, non-corruptible and committed individuals in positions of power" says it all. Yes we need AAP style thinking very badly. But sadly the educated, so called intellectuals are also closing their eyes. As Arvind Kejriwal said - TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM YOU HAVE TO BE PART OF SYSTEM. Hope the people of India will realise it sooner than later.
Ramanath Shetty, Mumbai Tue, April-1-2014, 3:22
Give AAP a change of 5 years in any state and you will see miracles. They go basis public needs and not basis politicians needs. When you impliment Jan Lokpal and Swaraj, I am sure everyone will have equitable development. Thanks Mr.Mudartha for your informative article
Sadananda Shenoy, Mangalore Tue, April-1-2014, 3:20
No doubt Gujarat is one of the most developed states in India. But still they have several issues such as environmental pollution, unemployment, bad roads, communal issues, forceful taking over of farmers land, no room for public voice. Gujarat is completely sold out to big industrialists such as Ambani and Adani. Need to bring equality first. Modi need to win the hearts of people that PMs chair
Vijay Dsouza, Moodubelle / Dubai Tue, April-1-2014, 3:15
Corruption and lack of political will is the root of every problem in India. Kick out those old parties and bring in AAP for a fresh perspective. AAP is blessed with very good leaders, surely they will be able to come up with better economic policies than anyone else
Francis Lobo, Moodubelle Tue, April-1-2014, 1:59

After my Engineering I have worked in Gujarat since 1986 for around 10 years in Oil and gas sector.Last year I happened to be in Baroda and I am astonished to see changes and the developments made by Modi Government.What changes you have seen for last two decades at our place with our great leaders.We need leaders like Modi to bring fast developments.So change your thinking and faith in old leaders and elect some dynamic leaders who can bring real industrial developments.Why we relate church attacks etc with Modi!!.Leave religion aside and elect dynamic leaders who can make changes in the systems and fast developments

Philip Mudartha, Nerul Mon, March-31-2014, 11:55

@Benedict Noronha, 1. Congrats, you are faster than lightening! Speed is a very important asset for any leader. 2. Congrats again, the Editor did not censor this comment, Good for all, readers, you and me. Relax, I will address your concerns at the right time. 3. You come across as a staunch INC loyalist. You are mouthing party line. Your end-questions were addressed by Dr. Eugene already. 4. Comments from staunch INC and loyal BJP, even if they are abusively hitting below the belt, may be printed unless the website is liable to be sued for slander under libel laws.

Benedict Noronha, Udupi / India Mon, March-31-2014, 9:53
Wonderful information! Mr Philip Mudartha has put before the viewers/readers of Belle vision. No doubt one should commend the details and style of projecting. It is journalism as well. But it is also necessary to unearth the other side- of crimes, church attacks and why Gujarathis flew and settled in Karnataka for business? How many Police officers who were said to be obedient to Mr Modi are in jail because they have been exposed to facist style of trial? No liberty to defend?. Facts cannot be wrong. I do not want to give statistics because my information is from the media, and so I leave the author to fill in the blanks. My view is that Mr Narendra Modi autocratic leader not meant for India.
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