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Gujarat agricultural growth story? Socially disadvantaged groups fail to gain: NSSO data

By Rajiv Shah
Latest figures released by the Government of India’s powerful data collection centre, National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), have suggested that the purchasing power of three socially disadvantaged groups in rural Gujarat – scheduled tribes (STs), scheduled castes (SCs) and other backward classes (OBCs) – is considerably lower than not just most of the Indian states. It is also much lower than the dominant social groups, identified as “Others” by the NSSO, compared to most other states.
The data are significant, as they come amidst continued hype around Gujarat’s growth story in the agricultural sector under the chief ministership of Narendra Modi (2001-14).
The report, titled “Household Consumer Expenditure across Socio-Economic Groups”, was released in February this year. It calculates monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) to identify purchasing power of different sections of population. It bases its data on 2011-12 survey.
The data show that in Gujarat’s rural areas, the STs’ average MPCE is Rs 1,155, less than 12 out of 20 major Indian states. The SCs’ average MPCE is Rs 1,374, lower than 11 major states. And the OBCs’ average MPCE is Rs 1,582, lower than 11 major Indian states.
The data suggest that things failed to improve for the three socially-disadvantaged groups – STs, SCs, and OBCs – under Modi vis-à-vis other states. The data also show that those identified as “Others” in rural Gujarat – mainly consisting of dominant social groups – have a much higher MPCE in Gujarat (Rs 1,988) than most of the 20 major states but five – Kerala (Rs 3,156), Punjab (Rs 3,009), Haryana (Rs 2,531), Himachal Pradesh (Rs 2,255), and Rajasthan (Rs 2,119).
The data suggest a slightly different pattern in Gujarat’s urban areas. Here, STs’ and OBCs’ MPCE is worse than majority of Indian states, but this is not true for SCs.
Comparative figures show that STs’ MPCE in urban Gujarat at Rs 2,014 is less than 12 other states (Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand).
The urban Gujarat OBCs’ MPCE – Rs 2,086 – is only a little higher than the STs (Rs 2,014). It is, at the same time, lower than 12 other states (Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Kerala, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal and Rajasthan). 
As for SCs, their MPCE is quite high in urban Gujarat – Rs 2,359 – compared to most of the 20 major states but three (Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala). Presumably, this could be because a big section of Dalits living in the urban areas work in government of semi-government offices, with many of them able to gain from the reservation policy.
As for “Others”, evidently, their MPCE is (Rs 2,946) in urban Gujarat as compared to STs, SCs and OBCs. But at the same time, it is lower than eight other states-- Kerala (Rs 5,376), Haryana (Rs 4,669), Karnataka (Rs 4,378), Maharashtra (Rs 3,699), Himachal Pradesh (Rs 3,329), Punjab (Rs 3,209), Andhra Pradesh Rs (3,080), and Chhattisgarh (Rs 2,980).

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