In October 2001, Narendra Modi started more than twelve years of unbroken rule as chief minister of Gujarat, which came to an end only when he assumed charge as Prime Minister of India in May 2014. As chief minister, he not only displayed political dexterity, but also emerged as an unparalleled champion of development. Gujarat’s economic growth, which came to be known as the Gujarat Model, presented other states an example of how dramatic improvements can be achieved in electricity and water supply, and how better roads and infrastructure can lead to faster growth and empowerment of people
In 2001, following the loss of two assembly seats in by-elections, Keshubhai Patel, the BJP chief minister of Gujarat, resigned and Narendra Modi, the rising star of the party, was asked to take charge of the government in the state. His brief was to create an enabling environment for the BJP to secure a majority win in the state assembly elections in December 2002.
Getting back to Gujarat after a 15-year stint at the national level was inevitable for Narendra Modi. Gujarat held great importance for the BJP and its badly fractured politics was a cause of constant worry to the senior leadership. The party needed someone who could overcome internal party fissures and lead the government effectively. In the eyes of the party’s central leadership, Modi fitted the bill. Having made his mark as a brilliant strategist for the BJP at both the state and national-level, Narendra Modi had seen both sides of the coin. It was unanimously felt that he was most suitable to bring Gujarat back from the political brink.
Modi won the Rajkot-II assembly constituency seat to be elected as an MLA in the Gujarat State Assembly, thus cementing his claim to the chair of chief minister. He defeated Ashwin Mehta of the Congress party. He took office with the heavy responsibility of preparing his party for assembly elections.
The beginning was not a very good one due to a horrible incident at Godhra on February 27, 2002, wherein suspected Muslim arsonists allegedly burnt a train carrying Hindu Kar Sewaks from Ayodhya to Godhra. About sixty people were charred to death in this ghastly incident. When rumours started floating around that Muslims were behind it, it sparked off a communal conflagration that claimed many more lives.
Narendra Modi took all steps to control the situation, including imposing curfew and issuing shoot-at-sight orders to restore civic normalcy. However, opposition parties accused Modi of being responsible for communal disturbance, but eventually, after several years, a Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) exonerated him. Closure was brought to the case at the judicial level in 2013.
Turning Gujarat around
In October 2001, when Modi was called upon by the BJP to lead the government in Gujarat, the state's economy was in shambles. The devastation caused by a massive earthquake on January, 26, 2001, in the areas of Kutch and Bhuj added to the challenge posed to him and his government.
The master strategist and organisational wizard that he was, Narendra Modi quickly identified economic revival and reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas devastated by the earthquake as his biggest challenge.
Besides the large-scale reconstruction and rehabilitation, undertaken in the earthquake affected areas, the 14 months running up to the state assembly elections were used to chart out a bigger picture, i.e., correcting existing socio-economic imbalances and focusing on growth-related initiatives.
Narendra Modi’s hard work paid off with the BJP securing a majority win in the December 2002 elections. The BJP got 117 seats out of 182.
Rehabilitation and reconstruction of earthquake devastated Kutch and Bhuj regions
Kutch being the epicenter of the earthquake suffered maximum damage as did Bhuj, just 20 kms away. The tremors left their mark even in Ahmedabad where about 50 multi-story buildings collapsed and several hundred people were killed.
Government of India gave out figures of affected people as 1.5 million with 19,727 dead, 166,000 injured and 600,000 left homeless. 348,000 houses were destroyed and 844,000 damaged. Official assessment placed direct economic losses at $1.3 billion while other estimates indicated losses as high as $5 billion.
Narendra Modi, on taking over as Chief Minister in October 2001, directed his indomitable energy towards the quake hit areas that had suffered maximum loss. Knowing full well that the challenges could not be met without assistance from financial institutions he incorporated the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and a number of Non Government Organisations to ensure that the work was done according to the requirement of the people and a viable plan put in place to build a sustainable township.
Under the dynamic stewardship of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a 124000 house township was reconstructed in a little over four years. World Bank estimates put the time period for this work at about ten years.
Core plan to ensure speedy and robust reconstruction
l Choice of relocation or in-situ reconstruction taken by the village community ensured minimum relocation
l Construction facilitated by financial, material and technical assistance by government
l Housing assistance packages announced in a record time
l Guidelines prepared to guide people for construction and repair
l Excise duty exempted for building materials
l Multi-hazard resistant reconstruction made mandatory
l Engineers appointed to provide technical guidance and supervise construction
l Payments made in three installments; second and third installments were given only after verification and certification by engineers
Sustained momentum for development post the electoral victory
Modi did not waste time celebrating this electoral triumph. Immediately after the new government was sworn in, he conceived the Panchamrut Yojana, a five-pronged strategy for the integrated development of Gujarat.
This was followed by an aggressive promotion of drip irrigation to save each drop of water. Today, more than five lakh hectares of land in Gujarat are under drip irrigation, thanks to this initiative of Modi.
His government’s efforts towards water management resulted in a consistent ten percent growth in the agriculture sector in Gujarat, as against a national average of three percent. Drinking water was provided to towns and villages, thus, preventing people from walking miles to fetch water.
Narendra Modi courageously staved off strong criticism and pressure from social activists to raise the height of the Narmada (Sardar Sarovar) Dam to 121.9 metres, a move that provided great benefit to Gujarat.
He also initiated a programme to use desalinated seawater for industrial use from solar powered desalination plants.
Through his Urja Shakthi Yojana, Gujarat emerged as the only state in India whose towns and villages receive 24/7 electricity. A booming rural economy contributed to reduced rural migration to urban areas. The state government’s assurance of surplus energy made Gujarat an attractive industry destination.
Gujarat developed a gas grid to supply gas to industries and homes. Since then, the state has been involved in hydrocarbon exploration, and a conscious attempt has been made to develop Gujarat into a gas-based economy. Gujarat’s comprehensive energy policy is focused on providing abundant and clean energy.
Since the beginning of his tenure as the state administrator, Narendra Modi realised and harnessed the value of what he famously termed Jan Shakti or human resource. In the 13 years that he was chief minister, he made various successful attempts to correct anomalies in human-related indices. He launched vigorous campaigns to prevent drop-outs from schools, encouraged girl child education, personally setting an example by contributing money for this cause from auctioned gifts. His government’s popular “Gunotsav and Vanche Gujarat” campaigns promoted the need for quality education and improving reading habits.
Public health was given due importance through initiatives like the “Chiranjeevi Yojana” and the 108 emergency services to decrease the infant mortality rate and provide emergency medical help.
Cleanliness and tree plantation drives were launched under “Nirmal Gujarat”. A program to supply fortified flour with micro nutrients through the public distribution system (PDS) and a mid-day meal scheme were started to check malnutrition among Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and school-going children.
“Khel Mahakumbh” was initiated to encourage physical activity and sports.
For Gujarat’s huge and largely neglected tribal population, Narendra Modi launched the “Vana Bandhu Kalyan Yojana” to achieve all round development in tribal areas. “Mission Mangalam” was initiated to provide livelihood to women through credit linkages.
Realising that knowledge and security are keys to success in a competitive world, the visionary Narendra Modi spent a considerable amount of his time developing plans for enhancing knowledge and skills of the people of Gujarat. Institutions like the Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University for Research in Energy, the Children’s University, the Indian Institute of Teacher Training, the Forensic Science University, the Rakshashakti University, the Kamdhenu University and the Law University came up. Delivering quality technical education was brought into focus to cater to the needs of a growing manufacturing sector.
The administration under Narendra Modi increased and upgraded several ITIs, polytechnics and engineering colleges. A clear objective was to achieve synergy between industry and technical education. Skill development programmes were introduced to train manpower and treated as distinct from conventional education models. A “Karmayogi” programme was launched to train the state’s bureaucracy.
As a result of all these initiatives, almost all villages in Gujarat are now connected with broadband network. Information technology is being effectively used in governance and the state has received many awards for its e-governance initiatives.
On the security front, Narendra Modi worked with the Union Defence Ministry to strengthen Gujarat’s coastal defence and prevent infiltration. His zero tolerance on terrorism is well known and widely appreciated. On several occasions as chief minister, he expressed enthusiasm to make Gujarat a hub for defence related manufacturing.
A thrust to rural economy
In terms of agricultural output, Gujarat improved substantially due to a better supply of groundwater in places like Kutch and Saurashtra and other northern parts. Efforts were also made to increase the use of micro-irrigation and providing farms with efficient power supply.
Gujarat’s agriculture growth rate increased to an average of 9.6 per cent during the period 2001-2007. Compound annual growth rate in Gujarat between 2001-2010 touched 10.97 per cent, the highest among all states of India. A radical change in the system of power supply to rural areas helped agriculture to flourish.
In the infrastructure sector, development was seen in the construction of 500,000 structures in 2008 alone, out of which 113,738 were check dams. In 2010, 60 out of 112 tehsils regained their normal groundwater level, which in turn dramatically swelled production of genetically modified BT cotton.
The Gujarat government under Narendra Modi changed the state’s system of power distribution, benefitting the farming and rural folk community greatly. The Jyotigram Yojana or Lighting up of villages was expanded. Agricultural electricity was separated from other forms of rural electricity. Agricultural electricity was rationed to fit scheduled irrigation demands, reducing its cost. In overall terms, electricity supply to rural areas in Gujarat stabilised.
Narendra Modi as champion of business and investment
Under Narendra Modi’s leadership, seven “Vibrant Gujarat” summits were organised between 2003 and 2015. These biennial investor summits, held under the auspices of the Government of Gujarat, were aimed at bringing together business leaders, investors, corporations, thought leaders, policy and opinion makers. These summits were advertised as platforms to understand and explore business opportunities in Gujarat.
For the first summit held between September 28 and October 2, 2003, the Industrial Extension Bureau acted as the nodal agency for the Gujarat government. It organised the signature event at two major commercial cities—Ahmedabad and Surat, in association with the Government of India, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Focus sectors in Ahmedabad were industrial investment, agro-processing, biotech pharma, natural gas and oil, infrastructure, mining, tourism, apparels, gems and jewellery. In Surat, it was garments, textiles, gems and jewellery.
At the end of the event, 76 MoUs worth USD14 billion were signed.
The legacy of Vibrant Gujarat Summits left by Shri Narendra Modi as chief minister continues in Gujarat.
The sixth and seventh editions of the summit (2013 and 2015) provided enormous prospects to the state to display its strengths, progressive values and initiatives taken to improve governance, the investor-friendly climate, art and culture.
The eighth edition of the initiative was held from 10 to 13 January 2017 at Mahatma Mandir, Ghandhinagar, Gujarat, with a central focus on “Sustainable Economic and Social Development.” It brought together heads of states and government and institutions with leaders of the corporate world and academia from across the world for an energetic and exciting interaction.
As Gujarat’s chief minister, Narendra Modi undertook several trips abroad, and among the prominent ones, was a trip to China, where he paid special attention to the model of socio-economic progress.
To give a boost to Gujarat’s tourism sector, Modi appointed Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador. To his credit, Bachchan did not charge a contractual fee for this. The “Khushboo Gujarat Ki” campaign, voiced by Bachchan, has increased tourism in Gujarat by four per cent per annum, twice that of the national growth rate for this particular sector.
The effective branding of Gujarat as a state in constant and consistent development mode resulted in the World Bank’s endorsement of Gujarat as the best Indian state in terms of ease of doing business for two consecutive years.
The Modi style of doing business: Minimum fuss, maximum results
As is well known, the talks for the setting up of a Tata Nano plant in Singur between the Government of West Bengal and Tata Motors collapsed in 2008. On October 3, 2008, after a meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, Ratan Tata declared his decision to move the Nano Project out of West Bengal. Tata mentioned his frustration with the opposition movement against the Singur project led by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee as the key reason for taking that step.
Narendra Modi then sent an SMS to Ratan Tata, which simply said: Suswagatam! (Welcome to Gujarat!), inviting him to establish his automotive plant in Gujarat. He persuaded the Tata Group chairman to relocate the Nano factory to Gujarat. It took 14 months to build a new factory in Sanand, compared with 28 months for the Singur factory.
While Gujarat continues to accelerate on the path of growth and development, the creative voyager in Modi continues to walk tirelessly, leaving behind his footprints on the sands of time, achieving one milestone after another, and thus, changing the face of Gujarat.
Unparalleled success of the Gujarat Model
Today, Gujarat is India’s leading state in several sectors such as e-governance, investments, poverty eradication, power generation, creation of special economic zones, road development and fiscal discipline.
Gujarat’s growth story is based on the development of all three sectors—agriculture, industry and services. Behind this robust growth is Narendra Modi’s dynamic leadership and his inspiring mantra of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” (Together with all, Development for all), which puts emphasis on pro-people, pro-active good governance (P2G2).
Novel ideas instituted by Narendra Modi have ushered multi-dimensional development in Gujarat in a time-bound manner. Under his brilliant leadership, Gujarat has bagged numerous awards and accolades from across the world, including the UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction, Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) Award for Innovations in Governance, the UNESCO Award, and the CSI award for e-Governance, to name just a few.
Narendra Modi has established a formidable reputation as an administrator. The party’s phenomenal electoral performances helped advance his position as not only one of the nation’s most influential leaders, but also cemented his position as a potential candidate for Prime Minister of India. His twelve years at the helm of affairs in Gujarat greatly helped the state march forward economically and culturally.
The fact that Narendra Modi was ranked as the number one chief minister by the public for three consecutive years, speaks volumes for his leadership and achievements.
In Gujarat, Narendra Modi became synonymous with the BJP.
By July 2007, Modi completed 2,063 consecutive days as chief minister of Gujarat, setting a new record for holding the post in the state. Since then, his rule has extended for many more years.
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