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Statistician Narendra Modi

The very mention of Gujarat's successes usually attracts an instant uproar in political circles. But that hasn't deterred the Gujarat chief minister from flooring the listener with statistics. For now, however, the debate on Gujarat's agri-success seems settled. 

twitter-logoAnand Adhikari | July 28, 2011 | Updated 17:37 IST

"Statistics are like biknis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital." 

No one knows this better than Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat. The very mention of Gujarat's successes usually attracts an instant uproar in political circles. But that hasn't deterred chief minister Modi from flooring the listener with statistics.

Sadly, any statistics rolling out of Gujarat - where Mahatma Gandhi actually started his dandi march - should be taken with a pinch of salt.

MUST READ:How Narendra Modi turned around Gujarat's fortunes

Recently, Modi's agricultural policy has won praise from veteran social activist Anna Hazare, who decided to go on a hunger strike in April this year, and Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who complimented Gujarat for its robust agricultural growth rate, which he said was more than the centre's.

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In this case, the statistics are interesting.

Gujarat seems to have gotten a stamp of approval from the Associated Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCHAM).

The 91-year-old Delhi-based chambers say Gujarat has clocked the highest decadal agricultural growth rate of any Indian state, at 10.97 per cent from FY01 to FY10. 

Chavan's Maharashtra follows Gujarat with a 10.41 per cent growth during the decade. The credit obviously goes to Modi, who first took the chief ministership in October 2001.
The ASSOCHAM study cited factors like investment in agricultural infrastructure, technology and uninterrupted power as reasons for the high agricultural growth rate.
Gujarat was actually the first state in the country to start 'river grid' process. (FROM THE ARCHIVE:Modi shares his first plans for Gujarat with Business Today).

The agricultural growth story is even more remarkable considering the state has seen a variety of natural calamities, including earthquake, flood and draught in the past.

INTERVIEW:Narendra Modi talks about his plans for rural and urban Gujarat

But the big question is; how sustainable is the state's agricultural growth?

Gujarat today is fast emerging as a favourite destination for the corporate world. The Bombardier of the world has set up large facilities in the state. 

It is already emerging as a major auto hub with companies like Tata Motors, Ford and Maruti making Gujarat a destination for future plants.

What will actually further accelerate the industrialisation process is the policy - introduced in February this year - of encouraging farmers to make way for industrial development.

The productivity gains can keep  Gujarat atop just for some more time, but with  the state government focussing on Godzilla size 'special investment regions' - as big as Delhi or Mumbai  -  for  industrial development, the agricultural statistics will definitely dwindle in the decades to come.

MUST READ:How Gujarat has turned entrepreneur savvy

But for now, the debate on Gujarat's agri success seems settled.  Six months ago, former president APJ Abdul Kalam said other states should follow Gujarat's example in the agricultural sector.

So who else do we need to endorse Gujarat's agri success?

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