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What Gujarat Model? – Growth without development and with socio-political polarisation

Abstract : As chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi claimed that his state was a ‘model’ of development. While his government achieved a remarkable growth rate, his public policies as well as his politics have been on par with growing inequalities. The collaboration between the state and the corporate sector—an old tradition in Gujarat—gained momentum under Modi, businessmen benefitting from low wages, acquiring land more quickly and at a better price, and obtaining more tax breaks, etc. Simultaneously, Gujarat spent less than most of the other states of India on education and health. Even though the ‘Gujarat model’ cultivates social polarisation, Narendra Modi was able to win elections three times in the state for two major reasons. First, the main casualties of this political economy have been Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis, who do not represent more than 30 percent of society. Second, the beneficiaries of this ‘model’ were not only the middle class, but also a ‘neo-middle class’ made up of those who have begun to be part of the urban economy or who hope to benefit from it—the ‘neo-middle class’ is primarily aspirational. These groups were numerous enough to allow Modi's BJP to win successive elections in Gujarat. The BJP got more than 50 percent of the votes only once, in 2002, but the main party can get an absolute majority with less in a first-past-the-post system. While the BJP is known for its expertise in religious polarisation, this is clearly a case of social polarisation in which the ethno-religious identity quest of the middle and neo-middle classes continues to play a role.
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Christophe Jaffrelot. What Gujarat Model? – Growth without development and with socio-political polarisation. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2016, 38 (4), pp.820 - 838. ⟨10.1080/00856401.2015.1087456⟩. ⟨hal-03399805⟩



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