Published on Fri, Mar 06, 2009 at 22:25 Source : CNBC-TV18

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has another reason to brag during the elections. Not only has he grabbed the Nano plant from West Bengal, he has also stolen Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's thunder in agriculture. CNBC-TV18's Economic Policy Editor Vivian Fernandes reports how India's foremost industrial state is making gains on the farming front.

Here is a verbatim transcript of Vivian Fernandes's comments on CNBC-TV18. Also see the accompanying video.

Whether it is investments or his drives for improved child nutrition, girl child enrolment, hospital deliveries or rural sanitation, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is never short of bragging points. Now, he has more reason for immodesty. Against a national average of 2.8% in a five year period to 2006-07, the latest year for which state-wise data is available, Gujarat has become the fastest growing state agriculturally. It clocked a growth rate of 12.8% after a decline during the previous five years and higher growth during the early 1990s, but a smart bounce nonetheless in view of a severe drought in 2002-03.

Ashok Gulati, Director-in-Asia, The International Food Policy Research Institute, said,"There is a mystery a bit of it but that is also a way that Gujarat can show to the rest of the country that agriculture is not a 2% growth, it can be 12% growth story per annum."

In contrast, West Bengal is the worst performing in agriculture. Farming in the state is in secular decline from 5.3% in the early 1990s to 3.9% during the next five years, and less than half that growth during the latest five year period. Poor farming performance should be a cause of concern for the left front government that parades its land reforms.

"Large number of people are dependent on agriculture and one has to find out what has gone wrong afteroperation burgerwhich was acclaimed so much but no more.," Gulati added.

There are several factors for Gujarat's agricultural performance. Among them water from the Narmada, investments in check dams, widespread cultivation of genetically-modified cotton, a dedicated power grid for the farming sector that assures regular supply during non-peak hours, and rejuvenation of the extension system by Chief Minister Narendra Modi. These factors will be further analysed to find out how much growth can be attributed to each of them.

Another surprise is Bihar whose average agricultural growth has virtually doubled over a 10 year period. Perhaps, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has something to do with it.

The researchers do not have a handle on why West Bengal's agriculture performance is sagging. They will have to study, among other things, why rice yields are stagnating at half the potential in a water-rich state, and why there is inadequate diversification into higher-value fruits, vegetables, livestock, and fishing and dairy .

West Bengal's agricultural decline would have been understandable if industry had picked up the slack. Overall, the state ranks middle among Indian states, but it is a story not of growth but of decline over time.

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Trade and beyond: a new impetus to the EU-India Partnership

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Trade and beyond: a new impetus to the EU-India Partnership

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May 08, 2021

At the invitation of the President of the European Council Mr. Charles Michel, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated in the India-EU Leaders’ Meeting today.

The meeting was held in a hybrid format with the participation of leaders of all the 27 EU Member States as well as the President of the European Council and the European Commission. This is the first time that the EU hosted a meeting with India in the EU+27 format. The meeting was the initiative of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

During the meeting, the leaders expressed their desire to further strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership based on a shared commitment to democracy, fundamental freedoms, rule of law and multilateralism. They exchanged views on three key thematic areas: i) foreign policy and security; ii) COVID-19, climate and environment; and iii) trade, connectivity and technology. They discussed forging closer cooperation on combating the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery, tackling climate change, and reforming multilateral institutions. India appreciated the prompt assistance provided by the EU and its member states to combat its second COVID wave.

The leaders welcomed the decision to resume negotiations for balanced and comprehensive free trade and investment agreements. Negotiations on both the Trade and Investment Agreements will be pursued on parallel tracks with an intention to achieve early conclusion of both agreements together. This is a major outcome which will enable the two sides to realise the full potential of the economic partnership. India and the EU also announced dedicated dialogues on WTO issues, regulatory cooperation, market access issues and supply chain resilience, demonstrating the desire to deepen and further diversify economic engagement.

India and the EU launched an ambitious and comprehensive ‘Connectivity Partnership’ which is focused on enhancing digital, energy, transport and people-to-people connectivity. The Partnership is based on the shared principles of social, economic, fiscal, climate and environmental sustainability, and respect for international law and commitments. The Partnership will catalyse private and public financing for connectivity projects. It will also foster new synergies for supporting connectivity initiatives in third countries, including in the Indo-Pacific.

India and the EU leaders reiterated their commitment to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and agreed to strengthen joint efforts for mitigation, adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change, as well as providing means of implementation including finance in the context of COP26. India welcomed the EU’s decision to join CDRI.

India and the EU also agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation on digital and emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, Quantum and High-Performance Computing including through the early operationalization of the Joint Task Force on AI and the Digital Investment Forum.

The leaders noted with satisfaction the growing convergences on regional and global issues, including counterterrorism, cybersecurity and maritime cooperation. The leaders acknowledged the importance of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific and agreed to closely engage in the region, including in the context of India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative and the EU’s new strategy on the Indo-Pacific.

Coinciding with the Leaders’ Meeting, an India-EU Business Roundtable was organised to highlight the avenues for cooperation in climate, digital and healthcare. A finance contract of Euro 150 million for the Pune Metro Rail Project was signed by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and European Investment Bank.

India-EU Leaders Meeting has set a significant milestone by providing a new direction to the Strategic Partnership and giving a fresh impetus for implementing the ambitious India-EU Roadmap 2025 adopted at the 15th India-EU Summit held in July 2020.