Modi’s Gujarat growth model: New horizons of politics of development
 Source : News Bharati English  Date : 26-Dec-2015

Modi’s Gujarat growth model: New horizons of politics of development

This article is based on a critical study of Gujarat growth model. This is an extract of the “Dynamics of Developmental Administration - A Case study of Gujarat Development Model: 2000-2008” researched by Dr. Sharad Khare. This politics of development was conceived and experimented by Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat.

The inconsistency in the economic thinking and programming

Most of the thinking on economic development in India was derived from the Western models without taking into account the Indian society and the ground realities in India. The interpretations of the realities and ground realities of the Indian society were made by those whose upbringing and education had been based on the Western educational system in India. Indianisation had not yet begun.

  • First, in 1951 Five Year Plans were introduced and they were heavily biased with agricultural emphasis.
  • The Second Five Year Plan was industrial development biased.
  • Thirdly, in the initial period and stages Community Development Programs were introduced with a view to bringing about village and sub-regional development in select areas.
  • Fourthly, there were piecemeal development programs such as SFDA, MFAL, Command Area Development Projects,                
  • Fifthly, the Central Government thought over considering “plan holiday”. An idea of Seven Year Plan was also mooted.

The Five Year Plan document was considered as an advisory essay, which meant that its recommendations were subjected to governments’ prerogatives of political promises ceded to the electorate. Sixthly, very large public sector was encouraged and preferred without substantial administrative reinforcements.  Seventhly, sub-regional administrative reorganization was ushered in with the institution of Panchayat Raj establishments (Community Development Programs thrown in to the background) and the cooperative credit structure created and revitalized to cater to the needs of agricultural production. Eighthly, during emergency period in the country, there emerged one more comprehensive “20 point program”. Ninthly, the enforcement agencies continued to exist and discharge their functions with a colonial bias and culture. Tenthly, a plethora of laws, directives and circulars shot out for the field in plenty at the center as well as at the state level, paved the way towards confusions and more importantly, corruption. Eleventh, since independence the parliamentary democracy is arranged through regular general elections to the Lok Sabha which constitutes popular will which is supposed to be sovereign.

The post-independence era of India seems to have been influenced by the following factors:

  1. Undue acceleration in proclaiming to achieve social and economic justice to all under the new Constitution---the newly created statutory document without ensuring and the fulfillment of techno-cultural infrastructural support. All that the Document meant to the downtrodden backward masses was it opened the gates of opportunities in the social and administrative spheres in the field of economic progress. However it must also be taken into account that such a partially preferential treatment compensated, initially did not comply with the adequate support structure. Thus, the space filled in by the hitherto disadvantaged did not satisfy the already better off sections of the society which resulted in the widening of the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged ones. Caste-conflicts turned violent esp. after the promulgation of the ‘Mandal Commission’ Report in the country. ‘Mandal’ Report dared to shake the established age old social structure. The status quoists did not take it lying down. The consequence was sporadic bloody riots but quickly brought under control. However a sort of uneasy truce prevails.  Later, when the educational opportunities and related job market was thrown open all over, the idea of social reservations gradually were acquiesced albeit with latent heart burning. In other words, disturbances in communal harmony and peace among different religious groups, social inequalities based on birth, preferential job appointments, question of gender justice, and politics of vote-banks are most important areas which have existed in the society for long in the past. Such stigmas were expected to be washed out by statutory weapons in a few decades. However, unfair and undemocratic political practices were seen adopted by all of the political parties. The positive aspect of the turmoil was the political consciousness on the part of downtrodden masses, rose to the extent of wielding independent political action. The decisive example was assumption of political power on its own, the Government in the State of Uttar Pradesh in as early as sixth decade of independence. Equality of status at the voters’ level seemed to have been achieved although overdue.
  2. There appeared a conflict between, in Prof.Ramchandra Guha’s words, ‘idea of India being the enemy of Indian State ‘ (Patriots & Partisans—by Ramchandra Guha, Allen Lane of the Penguin Books, 2012, pp.16). In fact it was a conflict between Indian State v/s Indian Nation. This ideological conflict influenced the entire process of Indian programmes since the independence.
  3. The typical European economic thinking esp. the Leftists’ preference and orientation complicated the policy making functions of the political class who bequeathed the products of colonial culture.
  4. There appeared no priority in understanding the idea of India while planning for economic development.
  5. The study of India was viewed from the British colonial ethos the result of which was a formidable failure in reading the Indian society. Everything ‘Indian’ was compared to and evaluated in European/colonial terms.
  6. The socio-economic parameters of growth in India were screened in the light of Western standards esp. the British way which subsequently led to belittle the indigenous society. Take the example of the Indian family system which was considered to be a strong foundation of the society hitherto intact for several thousand years in India was shaken by the introduction of the concept of ‘individual’ as was defined in the several statutory Acts and Rules.  Idea of India has witnessed gradual changes in the subsequent considerations of the ‘individual’ and the society. This may be experienced  in reading the idea of ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘brother’ ‘wife’ , ‘husband’, ‘family tree’, ‘elders’ etc. Planning for growth seemed to have failed to take into account the relevance of the family, required as a pillar in the structure of the individual and the society. The process of urbanization and industrialization seemed to have forced the individual and the society to accept a model of one’s development in terms of the erstwhile barter system.
  7. The economic programmers appeared to have been under the global impact of the theme of ‘human rights’. This emphasis inadvertently besieged the legitimacy of the ‘executive’. The toothless ‘executive’ seemed to have further demoralized by the disrespect and the arrogance exhumed by the inadequately equipped political class in India.
  8. The global players which seem to have influenced policies and programmes in India have underestimated the democratic foundation of the society and undermined its status. Prof.Ramchandra Guha was right to a certain extent that India appeared in fact, was made to appear the ’largest multiethnic democracy’ by the Western writers (Guha—India after Gandhi).
  9. The planners and the policy makers looked up to the Western society and its social orientation and drew inspirations and prepared plans for Indian society the roots of which were fixed differently.
  10. It appeared that blind and unsuitable imitation of the parameters of European model of growth was thrust upon the Indian society anticipitating favorable yield. This created a Hippocratic illusive scenario in the mind set of the poor and needy citizens. The question therefore has been whether Indians should accept growth-destination at the cost of cultural erosion.
  11. The exaggerated interpretation of ‘sattyagrah’  led  the individual  to believe and imbibe unto self a sort of contempt  and  antipathy  towards law –later to  become  a tendency  which  in turn  turned detrimental to the process of growth. This situation led the masses to become antagonistic towards the legitimacy of the ‘executive’. This was the beginning of the process of demoralization of the ‘executive’.

Idea of a Growth Model:

It becomes imperative to define and explain the basics of the concept of growth. There are different definitions of growth in economics, political science as well as public administration sciences. Emphasis differs. Preferences differ. Focuses differ.

Professor Dr. Sunil Date ( formerly professor and head of the Department of political science , Dr.B.A.Marathwada  University, Aurangabad, India ) has  explained ‘ development’ , ‘growth’ , and ‘ change ‘ . According to him ‘growth’ is directed, predetermined level or stage of achievement in the economic activity. ‘Development’ is value-loaded which means that the benefit stage either climbs upward or descends down in the economic strata when it is described as good or bad. “Change ‘is a neutral condition or situation where the ascent or decline is silent on its reception or perception.  The idea of developing an individual or the society is building a complete man who will establish his family and thereby the society with convictions. . The construction of a man, a person, his personality begins at his home. This is true of anyone, anywhere in any part of the planet. However, there are several schools of thought. One, a person considered as a cultural unit, and secondly, as a biological specie, a material commodity. Two factors are responsible for such a construction –first, the family and secondly, the State. 

It has become imperative to think of ‘growth’ from noneconomic dimensions. The following constitutes “growth model-political dimensions “:

  1. Political Continuity and stability at the Center and the State.( e.g. use or threat of its application  of Art.356 )
  2. Political Planning / (are there party resolutions of policy making directing the government to draft the necessary Bill or otherwise? ).
  3. Bureaucratic preference. Restoration of administrative preponderance for the better.
  4. Political initiatives/ leadership quality
  5. Integrated approach within economic considerations
  6. Broad vision/political mission.
  7. Political patronage for political gains e.g. appointment of State Governors—its rationale.

There are some pre-conditions required to allow growth to happen. Gap between the Idea of India and the Indian State is required to be bridged for effective and meaningful programmes.   Impact of the planning and programmes need to be   reflected in the society.   

One can always note the difference between the Wild West and dogmatic orientalism. Life became more and more statutory which bequeathed circumscribed growth, perhaps a lopsided one. The “human face” seemed to have lost from the contents.

Religion and family were the first to be beaten. Religion? Religion is not confined to worshipping God, and several other rituals, of temples, mosques and churches. It is essentially an emotion. An Emotion of being related to a pious hope!

 One has to understand that for those who live life with a scientific temper and rationalism, for them the life is not a problem .It is for those who are devoid of scientific temperament; religion is the first and perhaps the only hope in their life. It is inhuman to ignore and rule out such of millions and millions peoples, it will amount to irreligious disdain.   

The second casualty in such a development process is the “family”. It has started appearing to be an endangered species. The modern individual appears helpless in this regard. The nemesis emerged with a consequent weakening of the institution of marriage. This led to social unrest in the society. The State could not remain a silent spectator. What followed was a vicious race without an ending finishing line. It is a debatable point, but will it be an exaggeration to submit that the social facts such as  mother, father, son, daughter,  wife, brother, etc seem to be left merely as ‘ ideas’ ?

Development theme is required to be studied in the light of above.

Growth is directly linked with changes seen in the life of the ordinary individuals. Such a change is from good to better and from better to the best or even best to worst. It may be in the field of economy activities or the other way round.  For a common man it is two times adequate meals  in plenty, availability in abundance of the essential commodities in the market and liberal and easy opportunities in choosing  one’s own  favorable occupation in order to enrich wealth of the self as well as that of the region.

Professor Dr. P.G.Marvania, Department of Economics, Saurashtra University, Rajkot has Professor Dr.P.G.Marvania, Department.of Economics, Saurashtra University, Rajkot has-

  1. Comprehensive participation of the people in the growth plans would yield results if socialization of the growth programmes is programmed properly.
  2. There is a necessity to recognize individual and the family as catalytic agents of change. They are required to be treated as cultural citadels entailing the process of growth. A comprehensive –socio-economic development is not possible if the individual is not changed from within –who is the kingpin. The question which requires to be addressed is whether technological advancement alone can bring about a comprehensive growth of the society.
  3. Political initiatives matter when policies are drafted and programmes are drawn in order to bring about economic development of the region and the society. Design of growth model is drawn through the political initiative which presupposes anticipation of the common man –the ultimate beneficiary. Political leadership with personal integrity and high degree of commitment to the mission of comprehensive development and growth.
  4. Political leadership with personal integrity and high degree of commitment to the mission of comprehensive development and growth.

Political Leadership: The meaning of political leadership is the initiatives and personal qualities displayed by the workers functioning in the political parties and those in the government. In this regard the meaning of political initiative may be summarized as following:

  1. Youthful and energetic
  2. Innovative thoughts
  3. Astuteness
  4. Skilled orator
  5. Deft negotiator
  6. Acceptability by the people
  7. Across villages and cities
  8. Identifying genuine needs of the citizens:
    1. Water
    2. Education
    3. Human resource development
    4. Power – electricity
    5. Security sense confidence
  9. Team work and good work culture
  10. Belief in “Good governance is good politics”


Preponderance of political agenda: 

 A case of Gujarat administration:


There are three important imbalances which characterize development  all over the world: ( i ) imbalance between finance and real economy, ( ii ) macroeconomic imbalance between major economies, and  ( iii ) ecological imbalance as a result of pattern of economic growth. (Source: Guj.Govt Socio-Eco Review, 2010-11).

Behind these generalized conclusions are the shrewd ideas of planning and its further execution by the pragmatic Gujarat planners. An outstanding feature of the planning process in Gujarat is the united, devoted leadership with a mission of that of the Gujarat Government. The Government there seriously means development when they announce it. The bureaucracy there in the Government, the top officers, the political leadership and even the participating beneficiary needy citizens all and every one vows for the development and its fruits for real.

In view of the global features, the Gujarat Government carefully drew a programme in which the serious constraints experienced by the beneficiaries such as availability of financial credit for the applicants and cash components in hand were resolved much in favour of the beneficiaries thereby strengthening the status of the needy applicants. The Gujarat Government made the credit available to the needy on a simplified procedural method and the taxation at a bit reduced rate. There is a school of thought on planning process in India which believes in that the entire planning process in India has been a faulty beginning and devoid of mission – both at the national and the state level right since 1950. The concept was highly dominated by Western styled programmers whereas the ground realities in the Indian context were quite a different one.

While referring to the abovementioned source it  is submitted that the Gujarat Government  confronted itself with-- (i )inflation control, ( ii ) increased consumption spending, ( iii ) adequate liquidity, ( iv ) industrial development  and ( v ) educational infrastructure. At the policy making level, it was made problem centric. Such an attitude itself boosted the morale of the needy to deploy his energy to the development.

The political leadership on the other hand made arrangements to make the administrative machinery aware of the ground realities by organizing their ‘chintan meets “and “Karma yogi Abhiyan “to galvanize them. A recently completed research survey claims that these devices have a tremendous support amongst the voting citizens.

The legislative intentions to the development were also clear when the Gujarat Legislature took care to facilitate the entitlements of the citizens while empowering the bureaucracy to ensure efficient public service. Depoliticisation of the implementation of the official programmes, restoration of due authority to the bureaucracy, inducting the principle of political intervention for fair, legitimate and purposeful implementation of the development schemes in Gujarat need a wide national debate. Such a debate on development need not form a basis for political mudslinging with political calculations aiming at political vendetta.

The behavioral pattern of those involved in the planning and implementation of the government policies and programmes too has decisive relevance in the success of the programmes. The world has witnessed how an honest socio-political leadership and the bureaucracy can bring about a change in the lives of the citizens as evidenced in Gujarat. 

The Gujarat political leadership confronted itself with a challenging task of identifying issues and problems faced by the citizens and their just expectations.  An integrated approach of economic considerations in order to bring about economic development was thought   of. The most important ones were identified as:

(i) Gyan Shakti (importance of wisdom and education),

(ii) Raksha Shakti (internal and international security aspects),

 (iii) Jal Shakti (importance of natural resources such as water management),

(IV) Urja Shakti (importance of energy based and related considerations),

 (v) Jan Shakti (effective man power planning),

(vi) Deploying wealth to ensure health (importance of public health),

(vii) Evening courts (importance of justice in time without undue haste or delay).


The expectations and demands of the voters are articulated in party-manifestos and electoral promises of the political parties. The economic considerations are not ignored or overlooked leave alone undermined. A good political leadership weighs all pros and cons while arranging political party and governmental programmes. The political parties are entitled to take such measures.  The electorate in Gujarat reaffirmed their faith thrice in the growth model which was administered carefully by the contesting party.

A case study of political leadership in Gujarat highlights the following characteristics:

  1. a) Almost a over decade prior to Modi assumed  governance in Gujarat, Gujarat  had come to be  known as  politically an unstable government  with the fall of every  year or two  the Chief Ministership changed  hands as  defections and resignations were rampant.  Promises and moneys were made and paid.  It was the order of the day.  Between 2001 – 2002 until 2013 Gujarat has not reported defections or resignations. It is important to note that Shri. Narendra  Modi provided  a stable and continued  leadership in  the politics  and  governance  of Gujarat. This factor   seemed to be the most important and decisive factor in the   all round growth process.
  2. b) The good governance and an uninterfered and undisturbed public administration paved the way towards communal harmony and peace in the State. Peace appeared to have prevailed over a decade long period in Gujarat.  After the ill famous Godhra riots, the entire State enjoyed an enviable communal peace and harmony.  Barring the internationally sponsored terrorist attack, no untoward incidence was reported from anywhere in Gujarat.
  3. c) Community benefit oriented welfare schemes  such as  Krishi Mahotsav,  Shala Praveshotsav, Jyoti  Gram  scheme  were implemented effectively with most  simplified  rules and procedures - -- - advantage citizens. At the same time, individual  benefit oriented schemes  such as  Kanya Kelavani -  Beti Bachao Andolan   and  Swagat on line   Yojana  benefited the individual citizens directly.  A common man   in the street , an ordinary artisan  and a farmer  in a village,  a small time  self employed  businessman in the town  seemed  to have been benefited  under  the government schemes.
  4. d) Several schemes which directly benefited individual citizens cutting across party-affiliations necessitated peoples’ involvement.
  5. e) Management of the political party in power was seen excellently handled displaying a judicious and professional attitude towards solving the issues of the problems of the people. The inter-relationship and interaction between the party Members of the Legislative Assembly and the Council of Ministers esp. the Chief Minister was disciplined and simplified, moreover, it was result oriented. An holistic approach of the party workers at the village, talk and the district levels was developed which resulted in the functioning of a well-oiled  party  Importantly, the State party top brass had been aware of the party organization functioning in multilevel political system. The leadership of the ruling party in the State was also aware that in the changing modern times the party had to function in a federal polity structure which affects the party functioning too as a federal party system. However, it will not be correct to surmise  that the Gujarat State party  unit was treating itself as a regional party as was made out to be so  by Prof. Sylvie Guiscard ( see  Economic & Political Weekly, March 2 , 2013 , pp 40—46 ). In fact, the State unit of the party appeared laying a new tract combining its   aspirations   with the national objectives of the party and the expectations of the Central leadership. The State party unit seemed to have adopted a professional approach which it will be noted, yielded results.
  6. f) All out efforts were undertaken to improve the image of the bureaucracy while coming into contact with the people. ‘Karma yogi Abhiyan’ was an example of the concept of ‘government at your doors’ service. The theme was that the bureaucracy and the people were partners in the process of development. It was made amply clear to the people that the bureaucracy was committed to development.

The political leadership, the bureaucracy, the citizens and the planners, all of them united involved themselves into the development task. Development is not the responsibility of the government alone, public participation in it at each stage is required. The secret of the considerable success of the Gujarat  Government planning  is that the political leadership there in Gujarat  has succeeded in galvanizing the ruling party workers, the voters and the entire governmental machinery, even the opposition parties-  all aiming at –one point programme of upliftment of the poorest of the poor in the process of nation building.

Narendra Modi seems to have seriously given thought to the theme, principles and pragmatic executive action plan of developmental planning. 

  • Development is a concerted effort on the part of the initiator to bring about a substantial change in the life-style of the individual or the society
  • Politics is an art of making an individual or a group do things as desired by the initiator whether a despot or a democrat
  • A democrat is an initiator who widens the area of agreeability of voluntary action of the individual or the group to do things as desired even to the extent of voluntary compulsion.
  • Planning is a chain of thought articulating the problem, exploring alternatives to solve it with least possibilities of difficulties and arriving at comfortable solution enabling the life simple and possible.
  • Modi identified problems and difficulties in daily life of the poorest of the poor individual and assured him to make his life comfortable within the four corners of law.
  • Modi simplified the law and administered it with assurance.

Growth Model is an integrated programme comprising --

  1. Integrated socio-economic development  approach
  2. Federal structure of the Indian polity needs to be administered.
  • Political initiatives at  the party and leadership level
  1. Integrity displayed on the part of public administration  and the individuals
  2. Resolution of identity crisis in the society.
  3. Fair measures  of communal  harmony and peace

Growth Model for a comprehensive socio-eco-cultural development of the society in general and the individual in particular    is as screened above.  The question raised is  whether any  growth model is  feasible   or  could  emerge  successful  unless the  model aims  at  transforming  the  individual  from within , who  is  the ultimate  beneficiary , in order to achieve  growth.  Development is   possible if the individual citizen undergoes a systematic change. As  pronounced  in the ancient text , every individual was  required to discharge his ‘ kartaya dharma’ , in other words the  individual must realize his responsibilities – as a father, as a brother,  as a son, as a husband, as a voter, as a public servant, as a representative, as a law abiding citizen . He is not merely a political animal but he has to be a cultured social creature of the society. A new citizen is required to be born.  A new citizen can create a new society. A well equipped individual reinforces the society. A strong new nation is born.  To quote my Professor ( late ) V.M.Sirsikar , of the  University of Pune ,   it is , “Politics  is development  and all  development is politics “ has to be the key to the growth.

The theme of ‘Growth Model” could be discussed as ‘Growth Model –new horizons’ as following:

A ) Features  of dynamism of development in Gujarat,  ( b ) Politics of development, ( c )  Administrative responses in the State, ( d  )  Adaptability of the ‘Growth Model’ in India.


(The paper is partially based on the “Dynamics of Developmental Administration –A Case study of Gujarat Development  Model : 2000-2008” a joint research project of the Saurashtra University,Rajkot and Vivekanand Institute of Social Sciences Research, Pune 9; e.mail : [email protected]; Mob.07276888456 & 020-24230345)