The Miracle of Gujarat
There comes a time when even the most extreme critics of Gujarat have to concede that the state and its people have transformed their life chances and future beyond recognition. Since India’s independence, Gujarat has been led by too many incompetent Chief Ministers (CM). Many of them lacking in any strategic planning, and certainly lacking in any personal competencies to take on the role of CM and lead with vision and a sense of purpose. That was of course until Narendrabhai Modi came to power 2001. In just over a decade he has transformed Gujarat and lives of its citizens beyond the very imagination of the very same people.
Let’s just set some markers down. Today Gujarat’s population accounts for 5% of India whilst its land mass is some 6%. However, it has almost 10% of all factories, 13% of manufacturing, 18% of output, 16% of fixed capital investment and 22% of all exports. Now that in anyone’s book has to be considered as astounding.
If that is not enough, how about knowing that it has Asia’s largest grassroots petroleum refinery at Jamnagar, India’s only LNG import terminals at Hazira and Dahej, it is the world’s largest producer of castor and cumin, world’s largest gas-based single location sponge iron plant, world’s largest producer of processed diamonds and, it is the world’s third largest denim producer. The list is endless.
There are those who still continue to bring forth the events of 27 February 2002 when a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was burnt down by a Muslim mob in the town of Godhra. Modiji continues to be blamed for the riots that took place in the aftermath of this unwarranted crime by cross border extremists supported by Pakistan and some in India. However I say to people of all faiths and sects, this happened in 2002 and Narendrabhai has been re-elected by the people of Gujarat again and again. That should by now surely have sent a message to the extremists, and those corrupt individuals in the media, that they have all lost and the people of Gujarat have won.
Narendrabhai has now become the longest serving CM of Gujarat. That is not by chance or coincidence. The people of Gujarat have learnt from their past mistakes of voting for incompetent sectarian politicians, and thankfully one hopes those error driven days do not come to pass again.
So where does Gujarat go from here? Let us be clear – what Narendrabhai has done is but just a start. There is ample more to be done before people can relax, and even then, to remain ahead means constant hard work. There is the issue of the international airport in Ahmedabad, frankly it is under-utilised and offers substandard service compared with other international airports around the world. This should now be one of the highest priorities for the CM. Getting the airport working with proper direct flights in and out of Ahmedabad from all major international cities is a must. Given that some 450000 international visitors go to Gujarat every year, I fail to see why airlines and Gujarat cannot make a powerful business case for direct flights. And this is just one example of how it can better itself even further.
The history of Gujarat is well connected with its very foundations stemming from the Indus Valley itself. The Dharmic values of our ancestors transcended human values to their highest order. For example, Gujarat gave refuge to the Parsi (Zoroastrian) community arriving from Iran in 775 who have become a flourishing and contributory part of Gujarat.
And let us not forget the martyrs of Bharat Varsh who gave their lives for our freedom during the days of the ‘British Raj’. The people of Gujarat were some of the most enthusiastic participants in India’s struggle for freedom. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Mahadev Desai, Mohanlal Pandya, Morarji Desai, K.M. Munshi, Narhari Parikh and Ravi Shankar Vyas all from the land of Gujarat. If this was not enough, Gujarat was also the home to some of the most well supported revolts including the Satyagrahas in Bardoli, Borsad, Kheda and also the infamous salt Satyagraha.
So let the message go out to every corner of Gujarat and to every Gujarati. The blood of your ancestors has been spilt over many hundreds of years so that today you have your freedom and pride. You have been granted the capacity to develop Gujarat into a state that can challenge the world on all fronts. For Gujarati’s the future beckons a people who can rise and face the challenge of its own destiny. Do not let silly minded sectarian squabbles get in the way of life chances for your children, and that of the generations to come.
Dhanya hu..thai gayo …… ahi janma je maaro thayo;
Jai Jai Jai Jai, Garvi Gujarat – maara dil maan dhadke Gujarat.