- In 2001 Gujarat was considered as a drought prone state……How did Gujarat manage a turnaround and achieve 11% agricultural growth in 2011?
- How did Gujarat increase the agricultural land and cultivated area despite its fast track industrial development?
- What is “Apno Taluko- Vibrant Taluko” (ATVT)?
- How did the fruits of development reach the poor and marginalized?
1. Narendrabhai, how much truth is there in the statement that the Gujarat farmer is marching financially ahead compared to his counterparts from other states?
CM: To bring happiness to the farming community the state government launched a campaign for agriculture development and water conservation so as to take the fruits of progress to village after village. The state government boosted agriculture growth adopting scientific farming and cattle-rearing initiatives. Even nature has been kind in bestowing bountiful rains and the state has seen no drought in the last 10 years. Ten years ago Gujarat farmers’ agriculture income was Rs 14,000 crore, that has risen to Rs 80,000 crore today. The average agricultural growth rate of the country is less than 3 per cent while Gujarat’s has crossed the double digit figure of nearly 11 per cent. He is using drip irrigation, green house, net house and sprinkler techniques to maximize profit with minimum investment. Due to soil health card, the productivity of the land has multiplied giving new directions to the agriculture sector.
2. You say that soil health card has multiplied the productivity of Gujarat farmers. Can you explain?
CM: Gujarat farmer has taken up modern methods of scientific farming leaving behind his old traditional approach. Soil health card has turned out to be a boon to the farmers as it helps educate them on deficiencies relating to the land and to what needs to be done to rectify these deficiencies. This has also resulted in judicious use of fertilizers on the basis of findings of the soil health checkup. Earlier there was a tendency to overuse fertilizers which invariably harmed the composition of the land. This harmful effect has been reversed and thereby has helped to save unnecessary expenditure on fertilizers. Considering this, the state government has decided to give soil health card to every farmer in the state. Till now the lands of 42 lakh farmers have been tested and Gujarat is the first state to achieve this enviable record. Till March 2011, 31 lakh soil health cards have been disbursed, which is a record in itself.
3. There is also a school of thought that with the industrial growth the cultivable land decreases. What is the status of Gujarat in this regard?
CM: You are right. Agriculture land holdings decreases when industrial development takes place. But Gujarat has turned out to be an exception as both industrial growth and agriculture land has increased. This is not a small achievement. The reason is the land which has been lying fallow for several years in the past is now getting water for irrigation and has become fit for farming. This achievement is also due to efficient and effective water management. The world and the country has taken note of this. I feel proud to say that the country’s apex court has recently lauded Gujarat’s land policy
4. Narendrabhai, to achieve agriculture growth parallel with industrial growth is considered difficult. What is the condition of industries in Gujarat?
CM: What you say is correct. Strategic planning is undoubtedly needed to bring about agricultural and industrial growth parallel to each other. Gujarat organized five Vibrant Summits in the last decade and placed the state on the world map. If I can refer to the last summit of 2011, 7,936 MoUs were signed with the investment commitment of Rs 20.83 lakh crore. You must also realize that such a big investment would create over 52 lakh local jobs. In addition to this it would also result in employment opportunities for the local youth. In agro based industries, MoUs worth Rs 81,600 crores have been signed. We saw the dream of parallel development of agriculture and industry a decade ago. And today in 2011 it has become a reality and is a talking point world over. That is why I say that Gujarat dreams, Gujarat delivers.
5. Vibrant Summit is good for big industries. What about small and medium scale industries?
CM: This is a big misconception. On one hand Gujarat is rearing to become the auto hub of India while on the other hand it has also become the textile and petro capital. And for the growth of small scale industries we have a farsighted vision. The country’s 5 per cent population lives in Gujarat which has 6 per cent of the country’s land mass and its GDP share is 10 per cent. In this the contribution of nearly 4 lakh small and medium industries is noteworthy. The country’s 70 per cent salt production is in Gujarat and the state also leads in caustic soda production (90%); chemicals (60%); petrochemicals (50%); pharma (40%); and polished diamonds (80%). Salt, pharma and chemicals is largely run by small scale entrepreneurs and is a large contributor to national growth. In the recent Vibrant Summit along with development of small & medium enterprises we had also thought of social sector development which had surprised the world and the country.
6. When you talk of industrial development how does it fit with social sector development?
CM: Obviously this is a question that arises in everyone’s mind. Let me say that in the last Vibrant Summit we particularly focused on the financial upliftment of rural poor to make them self-sufficient through a programme called Mission Mangalam. In Mission Mangalam, not only the State Government but reputed corporate houses also will make joint-efforts. The strength of Gujarat lies in its 50 per cent population comprising of women. If women are included in the path of progress then the pace of development will be faster and widespread. I am committed to adding the strength of Nari Shakti as partners to development and decision-making. For this I wished to extend economic activity support to women and created sakhi mandals throughout Gujarat. Mission Mangalam is one such enterprise that helps the poorest of the poor women. Whether it is celebrating marriage or tending to sickness of her son or daughter, she need not depend on any external help. Lakhs of sakhi mandals have been integrated with banks leaving the management of over Rs 1000 crore in their hands. It is our desire to take this amount to Rs 5,000 crore. Just imagine if this huge amount is managed by poor women, how much progress they would have really achieved!
7. Narendrabhai when we are talking about social sector and upliftment of poor a question that arises is that have you made any special efforts to see that benefits reach the concerned beneficiaries?
CM: You have raised a fundamental point….The beneficial schemes if it remains on paper without reaching the targeted beneficiaries then it is useless. We decentralized the state’s administrative power through a milestone yojana to extend the benefits to the right people concerned. We recognize it as Aapno Taluko, Vibrant Taluko (ATVT). This is Gujarat government’s efforts to reach the remotest areas of the state and bring the government to their doorstep. Jan Seva Kendras equipped with computers have been set up in every taluka with GSWAN connectivity. Different kinds of applications numbering 129 are accepted at these kendras. This revolutionary experiment is being implemented by District Collectors and a team of newly appointed pranth officers. I want to create a healthy competition of people’s participation among the Talukas in the State.
8. You talk of ATVT but in practice do the benefits of government schemes reach urban poor?
CM: Look, every solution to a problem is unique. Therefore it needs farsightedness and political will. A concrete plan has been visualized for providing homes to urban poor under the Garib Samriddhi yojana. Gujarat is the only state in the country that has provided housing plots to all the BPL families which come within the 0-16 parameter. A sum of Rs 13,000 crore fund has been established for the welfare of urban poor. Under Ummed programme about two lakh youths have registered themselves and one lakh youth will be given skill development training for generating employment opportunities within one year.
9. Chief Minister, employment and education are the two sides of the same coin. What is status of education in Gujarat?
CM: I agree that employment and education go hand in hand. . In the last decade the government has done a lot to bring the children within the ambit of primary education and access the fruits of development. If I talk of Shala Praveshotsav, I and my Cabinet ministers every year take part in it. We are taking care that the kids are enrolled at schools and continue with their studies whether they belong to rural or urban areas. Not only this, from Chief Secretary to all other secretaries take part in this novel cause by coming out of their AC chambers into the scorching 45 degrees summer heat touring villages. Can anything be more surprising than this? I don’t remember any government in the world where the chief minister and his cabinet and senior officials would take part in such a programme. The government provides free textbooks, notebooks. And the outcome is there for all of you to see. It is a matter of pride that the dropout rate in Gujarat has drastically come down in the last decade. From Class I to V dropout ratio has fallen from 20.93 per cent to 2.09 per cent. While in Class I to VII dropout ratio is down from 39 per cent to 7.45 per cent.
10. In helping youths access higher education what steps has been taken by the Gujarat government?
CM: In the past one decade there has been a serious effort in helping the youth to access the portal of higher education which has never happened before. In 2001 we had only 11universities. Today, there are 39 universities in Gujarat. The state government opened many new world class universities towards training youth. It is not just opening new universities that are important but specialized world class universities such as Petroleum University, Sports University, Raksha Shatki University and Forensic Science University have also been setup here. To meet the present day needs, about 52 colleges have been started with new courses. In the tribal belt there are 35 colleges now functioning. For the first time in the country, a Children’s University has been set up and a Commission for Education Innovation had been started. A Gujarat Knowledge Society too has been set up to provide employment opportunity to the youth of Gujarat.
11. What has the government done for the welfare of Adivasis?
CM: First and foremost, the Adivasis are our own brothers. They are part of the family of six crore Gujaratis. In Gujarat, the entire eastern belt from Ambaji to Umergaon comprises of Tribal population. In order to enable this tribal population of 75 lakhs, an innovative program “ Vanbandu Kalyan Yojana” has been launched and for the first time in the history of Gujarat a huge sum of Rs.15,000 crores has been allotted to bring them into the mainstream. This comprehensive development program aims at empowering through education and social initiatives. It has created awareness among them for improved standard life. Only four years have been completed since the launch of the scheme, and a sum of Rs. 17,000 crores has already been spent against Rs. 15,000 crores planned for five years. At the end of five years, more than Rs. 20,000 crores will be spent in development schemes making a change in the life of Adivasis. There is no parallel scheme in the entire country to compare with this all inclusive initiative. Gujarat has shown the way to the entire nation by implementing such a scheme which is acceptable and appreciated by all.
“I want to make one thing very clear. In the ten years of our journey of development, Gujarat has emerged successful in many areas through numerous initiatives. But without the blessings of six crore Guajratis it would not have been possible to achieve this feat. This is the outcome of the determination of six crore Gujaratis for development and commitment of six lakh fellow Karmayogis of my government, and the spirit of “Team Gujarat”. I thank the people of Gujarat and all the employees of the State Government on this occasion from the bottom of my heart. “