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A Chink In The Armour

Gujarat has a lot going for it, except for the education system that is in shambles

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Gujarat is a shining star when it comes to development in the national context. The state has more than 800 heavy industries making profit and a number of micro, small and medium enterprises doing the same.

Its saga of agricultural development is not unheard of among its success stories. In 2004-05 the gross state domestic productivity of Gujarat was $45.39 billion; the productivity broke all barriers in 2014-15 and reached a massive $142.38 billion.

The Beginning of Development
I was heading the Sardar Sarovar project when the idea first came to existence. Sardar Sarovar has changed the culture of the areas that were struggling for decades to get water. Irrigation from canals has brought a shift in momentum for our farmers.

The eastern belt of Gujarat and the tribes of those regions are still not aware of such development and ask their respective government to think about it. Empowering everyone is important for sustainable development. People calculate economics on several models, but merely opting for three or four years of base will not show the best result.

A state with 14 per cent growth on the industrial front is talked about everywhere, but if it also has a 6 per cent growth on the agrarian front that shows it is doing great.

We started witnessing positive signs in the late ’90s. A huge coastal line for marine fishery, good quality cotton produce, better oil seed production. Even the grain produce of a few varieties of local origin are best of their kind.

But what happens when a farmer sows his fields expecting good returns, while the policymakers at the centre announce imports? It is a huge setback. Even raising import duty does not work in such cases. MSPs (minimum selling price) and other intervention schemes do not prove to be enough. It is like giving subsidy to US farmers.

The Root Cause
It’s a pity that a state with the best of infrastructure, highest growth rate for industries, and a very good agricultural growth, remains backward when it comes to education and training. We are ranked not even under 10 when it comes to education. The drop out ratio is very high and  the girl child admission ratio is very poor. Look at eastern Gujarat, it is no better than Bihar. All the Patidar Patel boys who have MBA degrees cannot even get a Rs 20,000-25,000 job. People from other states grab their piece of cake in home industries, as they are better trained. Is this development? Of course, a few private trusts (politically inclined to different parties) work towards this, but that is not enough. All the parties, be it the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party or any other party, bear equal responsibility. Lack of quality education is the root cause of distress. It is the reason why even a community such as the Patidars are asking for reservations.

I believe whoever can bring changes to the education system should win the elections. Education is important. How can an uneducated youth take responsibility of a state or a nation. As a common tax payer I would love to see the face who can bring change in the system of education, so that even a landholder Patidar boy should not have to sit on the chabupal but gets what rightfully belongs to him.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Y. K. Alagh

The author is chancellor of the Central University of Gujarat and vice-chair of the Sardar Patel Institute of Economic and Social Research in Ahmedabad. Y. K. Alagh is a former member of the Rajya Sabha and a former Union Minister of State

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