Karela Fry

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The decline of the west?

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On the 50th anniversary of the bifurcation of the erstwhile Bombay state, Rajdeep Sardesai writes:

This week, two states, separated at birth, completed their 50th birthday celebrations. While comparing siblings is often best avoided, the journey of Maharashtra and Gujarat offer many lessons for the future. 50 years ago, Maharashtra was the country’s economic powerhouse, benefiting from the colonial legacy of being the heart of the old Bombay state while Gujarat was ‘an idea in the making’. Today, on several growth indicators – including an impressive double digit agricultural growth rate – Gujarat is showing signs of marching ahead, even while Maharashtra is reaching saturation point. What explains the divergent paths taken by two states that have been tied by history and geography?

Unfortunately, the piece is woefully short on facts. It should be possible to compare the performance of these two states on indices of human development. Census results capture some of these metrics, and also allow us to use as a comparison baseline one of the less developed states of the union. So here are indices of population growth, literacy, and gender equality.

Statistics for literacy in the 2001 census were:

  1. Mahararashtra (rank 10): 76.88% literacy (85.97% male, 67.03% female)
  2. Gujarat (rank 17): 69.14% literacy (79.66% male, 57.80% female)
  3. Bihar (rank 35): 47.00% literacy (59.68% male, 33.12% female)

The census of 2011 has not yet been analyzed for literacy figures.

Provisional results for the 2011 census show the following population growth rates and overall sex ratios:

  1. Maharashtra has population growth 16.0% (down from 22.7% in 2001) and sex ratio of 925 F/1000 M (up from 922 in 2001)
  2. Gujarat has population growth rate of 19.2% (down from 22.7% in 2001) and sex ratio of 918 F/1000 M (down from 920 in 2001).
  3. Bihar has population growth rate of 25.1% (down from 28.6% in 2001) and sex ratio of 916 F/1000 M (down from 919 in 2001).

The child sex ratios tell a different story. Bihar 933 F/1000 M (down from 942 in 2001), Gujarat a shocking 885 F/1000 M and Maharashtra in the same sorry ball-park with 883 F/1000 M.

So, a half century after the creation of Maharashtra and Gujarat, they are almost neck to neck in human development indices, and ahead of the least developed states. Worryingly, however, the index of child sex ratio shows that Bihar is improving while both Gujarat and Maharashtra are sliding. Time to sit up and take notice: force a positive change. If Bihar can do it then why not Gujarat and Maharashtra.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

May 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm

One Response

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  1. states leader described in popular parlance:
    mumbai:grown from “aamchi mumbai”(udhav thackrey)to “me mumbaikar”(raj thackrey)
    gujrat:gentlest of people in gentlest of voice say”modi is our hero”
    bihar:woh samosa kya jisme aalu nahi
    woh bihar kya jisme lalu nahi.

    anil khanna

    May 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm

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