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Delhi, Maharashtra lead in air travel mobility, teledensity. Kerala, TN "fair better" than Gujarat: CMIE

By Our Representative
In a new analysis, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the country’s powerful independent statistical organization, has sought to debunk the claim that Gujaratis and Bengalis are among the most mobile people of India. In its latest analysis, carried out by CMIE expert Mahesh Vyas, it has said, “Air passengers from West Bengal were 118 thousand per million population and those from Gujarat were 85,000 per million population. In comparison, Maharashtra had a traffic of 304 thousand per million population and Kerala was 285 thousand.”
“Gujarat’s passenger air traffic at 85,000 per million population is lower than the all-India average and it ranks 14 out of 23”, the CMIE points out, adding, “Even Jammu & Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had higher air passenger traffic compared to those from West Bengal and Gujarat”. It underlines, “Both these southern states fare much better on mobility statistics compared to the more famous Gujarat or the more touristy Gujarat and West Bengal.”
Based on the data collected by CMIE, in the analysis titled “Delhi and Maharashtra lead in air travel mobility and teledensity: Kerala, Tamil Nadu fair better than Gujarat on this front”, the CMIE says, this could be because “it is possible that the Bengalis and Gujaratis travel from Delhi and Mumbai than from their respective states.”
The analysis says, “Delhi is the most mobile state in the country. Its Indira Gandhi International airport is the busiest in the country with a traffic of 34 million passengers in 2012-13. Mumbai comes next with a traffic of 30 million passengers. The rest don’t even have half this traffic. Delhi also has the highest teledensity of 91 per cent according to the Census 2011 data.”
The analysis further says, “Kerala’s rail and road density is among the top three states in the country. Its air passenger traffic at 285 thousand per million population is more than twice the all-India average of 130 thousand. It ranks sixth out of 23 states and union territories for which such data is available in this respect, but, the five that rank higher than Kerala include Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the city-states of Goa, Delhi and Chandigarh. The only large state that beats Kerala is therefore Maharashtra, which is because of Mumbai.”

Teledensity ranking

Coming to teledensity, the analysis says, “Kerala has a teledensity of 96 per cent. This is much higher than the all-India average of 73 per cent. The state ranks fifth in teledensity. Kerala’s high ranks in rail and road density, in air traffic and in teledensity makes it the contender for the most mobile state in the country. This statistical nugget sits well with the image of the ubiquitous hardworking global Malayali who decides to hang his boots in God’s Own Country, but possibly keeps working his phone.”
It adds, “Tamil Nadu ranks second in terms of teledensity after Delhi. Among the large states, Tamil Nadu is the top ranker in terms of teledensity. Its good quality of roads offsets partly, its not-so-impressive surface transport density. And, its air traffic is also quite impressive at 227 thousand per million population compared to the all-India average of 130 thousand per million population”. Coming to the ranking of Gujarat and West Bengal, the CMIE says, “Gujarat ranks 8 out of 18 in teledensity, while West Bengal ranks 12th”.
“However”, the analysis says, “the available statistics need to be used with some caveats as the mobility could be of outsiders into the region as tourists rather than the local population being mobile. For example, Andaman & Nicobar has a mobility of 1.3 million per million population and Goa has an even better 1.9 million air passengers per million population. The natives of the island would probably not be amused and the Goans may raise a toast to the business prospects of this traffic. But, both are not as mobile as the data suggests.”
“Inter-state comparisons are often dicey. And, comparing mobility across states is a complicated affair”, it says, adding, “Different modes of transport compete, terrains differ and mere mobility may also be a reflection of poor spatial planning. Independent of how the states stack up by these rankings, there is no doubt that there has been an all-round improvement in transport facilities and therefore of the mobility of Indians. But, this is far from enough to improve the quality of life.”
“Typically, on a Western international airport, one sees people from West Bengal, Gujarat, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Bengalis and Gujaratis are probably the most tourism oriented people among us. People from the South are more likely to be found as professionals working overseas, or their families visiting them. But, if you find an Indian gawking at the Colloseum in Rome, tiptoeing along aisles of the Louvre or screaming down those crazy rides in Disney World, she is likely to be a Bengali or a Gujarati”, the analysis says.

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