Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi will strive to achieve 12% annual economic growth in the western state over the next five years. In his first interaction with the media after taking over as chief minister for the third time in a row, Modi said the Planning Commission has set a target of 11.2% annual growth for the state over five years but he would try to do better.
The state’s average annual growth in the past five years has been 10.7%.
Modi’s other priority is to put Gujarat on par with developed countries on human development measures. India is ranked 128 among 177 countries on the Human Development Index, a measure used by the United Nations Development Programme to track social indicators in a country.
“It’s a difficult task but in coming years we will see that Gujarat comes close to if not on a par with developed countries across the globe as far as human development index is concerned,” Modi said. The state will launch a Nirogi Baalak scheme by end-March that will aim to take care of all aspects of child development, right from birth to 16.
“To me the success of industrial growth is best reflected in the number of people (who) get employment,” Modi said. In the past six years of his rule, Modi had initiated quite a few schemes to develop skilled manpower for the state’s industrial growth. These include changing curriculum at so-called industrial training institutes in tune with industrial needs, making computer education compulsory at the primary level and popularizing English education.
His first interaction with the media after he won elections late last month, in chaste Hindi with a few Gujarati words thrown in, had all the rhetoric of Modi, often referred as the salesman of Gujarat as a brand. Three bi-annual Vibrant Gujarat events in 2003, 2004 and 2005—the culmination of Modi’s high-pitch sale of Brand Gujarat—have seen signing of memoranda of understanding for projects worth more than Rs6.8 trillion. Critics say few of those agreements were translated into projects on the ground.
Still, Modi plans to double the existing installed capacity of power generation to 20,000MW in five years. His government claims that it has already made electricity available in 18,000-odd villages of the state and at the next stage, the plan is to make electricity available in every home. Gujarat has added 1,878MW of power to its energy pool in the last five years.
Another plan on Modi’s agenda is to double farmers’ income, and this will be done by raising the irrigation capacity one-and-a-half times and completing the state’s share of the Narmada project construction by 2010. The Narmada project is a multi-crore, multi-state initiative that involves building of a number of dams and long stretches of canals. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan are also involved in the project.