A field of disagreement

I am happy to engage Professor Alagh on what the real sources of growth in Gujarat’s agriculture were. I am happy to engage Professor Alagh on what the real sources of growth in Gujarat’s agriculture were.

The Gujarat model continues to generate more heat than light.

This is in response to Professor Yoginder K. Alagh’s article, ‘Posture-nomics’ (IE, May 7), wherein he says, “Getting back to agriculture, the 10 per cent growth rate figure was the result of a paid-for study commissioned by the government of Gujarat and conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute, to which [Ashok] Gulati was affiliated. The finding was widely advertised as the result of research by an ‘American institute’.”

I wish Professor Alagh had remained professional and discussed whether Gujarat’s agriculture had done better during the decade of the 2000s (2001-02 to 2011-12) than the 1990s (1991-92 to 2000-01), the period I have referred to recently. And if there is any improvement, what has driven it? Instead, he chose to throw mud by saying it was “a paid-for study” by the Gujarat government. It pains me to say that Professor Alagh, whom I have respected as a senior professional, is speaking a blatant, shameful lie. I am proud to have been associated with IFPRI for more than 10 years. Let me put on record that IFPRI never received a penny from the Gujarat government for this study and the study was not commissioned by it. Further, IFPRI is a solid research organisation under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research system (not American) and works on food and agriculture policy issues. Its policy suggestions are always evidence-based. But IFPRI never claims to be the last word in research. Research is a continuous process, and research findings of a study can always be improvised and challenged, which we often did within IFPRI itself, but minimum courtesy demands it is done in a professional manner.

Professor Alagh also talks about his days at the Planning Commission and says, “in the days when planning still mattered”. May I ask what the rate of growth of the Indian economy was when he was planning for the country vis-a-vis, say, the last 10 years, when Montek Singh Ahluwalia has been at the helm? Whether planning still matters or not, I leave it to Professor Alagh and Ahluwalia to decide, but I want to return to Gujarat’s agriculture.

Our study on Gujarat (‘Secret of Gujarat’s Agrarian Miracle after 2000’, with Tushaar Shah, Hemant, Ganga Shreedhar and R.C. Jain, published in the Economic and Political Weekly, December 26, 2009) was an offshoot of the work we were doing at IFPRI on all major states with respect to their overall growth, agri-growth, poverty, etc since the 1991 reforms. All the data on these state-level parameters are from the Central Statistical Office. On agri-growth for the two decades mentioned, the results are shown in the graph above: Gujarat, which was not known for any …continued »