Plus & Minus

“A weekly column: Plus&Minus will be published in Hindustan Times, Jaipur Live. This will speak to the ordinary reader on contemporary economic issues in a simple format”.

    The state of Rajasthan
    Hindustan Times Jaipur Live, October 12, 2009

By Pradeep S Mehta

“The state of Rajasthan occupies the top slot in rapeseed and mustard production. These crops require little rainfall and are ideally suited for a dry and arid state like Rajasthan. But unfortunately in the last so many years, our production of mustard is very low compared to other countries because no new varieties of mustard has been developed. Why have scientists failed?”. Thus spoke Bharat Singh, our capable rural development and panchayati raj minister at the seventh India Today State of States Conclave at Delhi last month.

Chief ministers and ministers from 16 states and four union ministers attended the increasingly popular event. It deliberated on three key questions: a) how can we liberate two thirds of our population living off a fifth of national income, b) can the states make the system deliver on education reforms, and c) how does India deal with the ugly side of the urban revolution.

The conclave also witnessed the release of the seventh report on the State of States, which does a comparative analyses of how various states have fared on different aspects of governance. It was based upon data scientifically assembled and analysed by two friends of mine: Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari, both very sound economists. Bibek used to work with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation some years ago, when the 2004 version of the report showed fast progress in Gujarat. In 2005, it became controversial even though the data was of a regime before Narendra Modi’s. Bibek left the Foundation, because he believed in intellectual integrity.

Gujarat continues to be a good performer at the fifth position, while Punjab was ranked as the consistent topper in the country from 2003 until now. It’s performance in agriculture, infrastructure and consumer markets is one of the best in the country. The second rank went to Himachal Pradesh for better fiscal management and realisation of education in economic growth. It was also reported to have achieved the fastest growth over all states.

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