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Gujarat No 1 in economic freedom, but No 14 in transparency, No 12 in social protection: Study

Counterview Desk
A just-released study, “Public Affairs Index: Governance in the States of India”, has once again highlighted that a state which achieves good level of economic development by inviting industrial investment as compared to other states, such as Gujarat, does not automatically claim to have achieved better levels of social sector indices.
The study has been carried out by Dr CK Mathew, Athreya Mukunthan and Vivek Divekar for the Public Affairs Centre, Bangalore, the study.
It, interestingly, finds that Gujarat is No is No 1 among 17 major states in economic freedom, which has been arrived at by focusing on “ease of doing business”, and No 3 (next to Punjab and Haryana) in essential infrastructure such as power, water, roads, communication, and housing.
However, a look at different social sector indices worked out by the authors, based on the latest available data, suggest that in the state’s support to human development, Gujarat ranks 10th among 17 major states, with only states identified as “poor” -- West Bengal, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar – performing worse than Gujarat.
In social protection, Gujarat ranks No 12 among 17 major states, with only five states performing worse – Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana and Bihar. The study regrets, “The very nature of economic growth is such that only some people are able to extract the best out of the processes of growth.”
On the index of women and children, Gujarat ranks No 13 out of 17 major states, with states ranking worse being – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand, pointing towards unsatisfactory “level of nutrition of children” and “severe issues regarding the manner in which women are ill-treated.”
While in crime, law and order, Gujarat ranks No 2, next only to Tamil Nadu, claiming how the state has able to “defuse” the communal conflagration in 2002, ironically, in the deliverance of justice, the state ranks No 11, with six state states performing worse – Rajasthan, Karnataka, Punjab, Assam and Bihar Jharkhand.
The report states, “It is not the intention of this report to comment in any manner on the working of the courts, and hence we are restricting ourselves only to two focus subjects, namely the High Courts and the District Courts; here we look at the data pertaining only to the pendency of cases and the vacancies in the posts of the presiding officers.” 
Interestingly, again, while ranking Gujarat quite high in environment, next only to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal, the study ranks Gujarat No 14 – one of the worst – in transparency and accountability, with only three states performing worse, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.
The study says, the transparency and accountabi\\lity is “a measure of governance is vital in the general perception of an informed citizen”, even as investigating how right to information (RTI) Act is being implemented in different states.
What should be a shocker to the Gujarat government, which claims to be one of the fiscally managed states, is, the study ranks Gujarat No 14 in fiscal management. The study believes, this theme is “of paramount importance in the achievement of the long term goals of development and strengthening of the economy.”
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Download full report HERE

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