My piece on economic models and posturing (‘Posture-nomics’, iexp.in/ vBc88240, IE, May 7) seems to have generated a lot of excitement. But in all the agitation, the two points I had made in the article remain untouched. I had said that while poverty in Gujarat is falling, it is very high in the Adivasi belt (60 per cent), which we call the poorvi patti. I had also said the growth rate in agriculture in Gujarat in 2011-12 was 4.8 per cent, which worried me. Like most debates in Delhi, no one rebutted my main arguments. Instead, I was abused. Typical.
Surjit Bhalla questioned me for saying poverty levels are generally negatively associated with income levels and that a low level of poverty in Gujarat is a no-brainer (‘The
slur and troll campaign’, iexp.in/ MYD88247, IE, May 10). He went on to say “poverty levels are a function of several initial conditions, among which per capita income or consumption and its distribution are two of the more important.” Oh, come on. When you say per capita income is important, it is kosher, but not when I say it. Bhalla goes on to say I don’t present any evidence. But in my article, I cited the excellent work of Srijit Mishra of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, and asserted that in the poorvi patti, “the Adivasi poverty rate, at around 60 per cent, is higher than in the states that the late Ashish Bose used to call BIMARU states.” I prefer not to clutter my articles with tables. For those who want more detail, the reference was provided. While Bhalla spent a lot of print questioning me, he had nothing to say about the poverty in the Adivasi belt — my chief point.
Bhalla may know that the official poverty line, also called the Alagh poverty line, was the result of the work of a task force that I chaired. I have been wanting it to be replaced and as member, Planning Commission, I even set up the Lakdawala committee. But the committee retained the old line. Subsequently, Suresh Tendulkar made the urban Alagh poverty line the national line — I have shown in the technical literature that this will not hold. I’m glad that the Rangarajan committee has been tasked with looking into this. I guess the new government will also have its say. My papers on the matter are all published and are in the public domain.
Ashok Gulati also questioned my article in ‘A field of disagreement’ (iexp.in/JCm88262, IE, May 9). He said “there may be some lessons from Gujarat’s agriculture. If not, so be it. My only objective is to get 5 per cent growth in Indian agriculture”. But previously, he had projected his version of the Gujarat story as the model. So it is fair for me to place him in that debate. Let me first clarify that I have always maintained that Gujarat’s agriculture growth rate of around 6 per cent is a great achievement. Such growth is continued…