Before anyone misinterprets, let me make it clear that Aakar Patel holds no enviable record. He excels in creating vilifying and malicious write-ups especially against Mr. Modi. Yes, there is an entire cottage industry comprising of Modi-baiters, but he is a class apart. Not only does he trump others, he betters himself with every new article , thus ascending to new summits of Modi-bashing and in turn plunging to newer depths of buffoonery. His recent series on Gujarat and Modi in DNA is totally based on assumptions and presumptions and nowhere close to the ground reality.
His latest piece in DNA begins with the headline ‘Can Modi beat Manmohan’s record?’ Which record of Manmohan Singh is he talking about? He throws no light on Manmohan’s alleged record/s in the article, except for the second last paragraph where he writes ‘It is not remembered often that in the last eight years, Manmohan Singh has delivered four years (2005-08 and 2010-11) of 9%-plus growth and two years (2004-05 and 2009-10) of 8%-plus growth.’
Here, he plays a convenient numbers game! According to Planning Commission Data1 ,the growth rates exceeded 9% for 3 consecutive one-year periods in 2005-06,2006-07 and 2007-08 i.e. three years , and not four years as he claims . Secondly Gujarat’s growth during these three years was 14.95%, 8.39% and 11%. For the period of 2004-05 to 2011-12, India’s growth under Manmohan Singh averaged to 8.28% and Gujarat’s growth under Narendra Modi was 10.08%. Now, which record of Manmohan Singh is to be beaten by Narendra Modi?
Having been brought up in Baroda and educated in Ahmedabad, I have unfortunately never got a chance to see the Gujarat Aakar Patel talks about! He mentions that life in the cities of Gujarat seem no different from the rest of the country. Annoyed by a lack of traffic discipline, he should realise that Gujarat is a part of India and not any western country and all Indians have similar ethos ingrained in them with respect to traffic habits. Isn’t blaming Modi for the lack of traffic discipline similar to blaming Modi for the intellectual hollowness of Aakar Patel, because he too hails from Gujarat? The ophthalmologists may relish a chance to check his vision as they may get a chance to make a startling discovery about a rare vision disorder. He says that the public transport is poor in Gujarat. Now, I think he last visited Gujarat before 5-6 years. How can he miss the BRTS in Ahmedabad and Rajkot. The BRTS is very much a part of the landscape of Ahmedabad apart from getting acclaim nationally as well as internationally! Surat is getting its BRTS soon and Baroda which did not have an efficient local bus service, today boasts of one! Going by his judgement, he surely has not seen the grandeur of the Sabarmati Riverfront which has been widely appreciated by a plethora of institutions and agencies including KPMG2 .
Now, he subdivides the contributors to the GDP where industries make up for 40% of Gujarat’s GDP, while industries add up to only 30% of the Indian GDP. This achievement is credited to Gujarat always being big at industry due to the likes of Dhirubhai Ambani and JRD Tata. Again, only Aakar Patel can explain the contribution of JRD Tata to Gujarat! Coming back to the notion of Gujarat always producing big industrialists, can Aakar Patel name five industrial biggies in the 1980-2000 era except Dhirubhai? Yes, Gujarat missed the IT Bus, when it arrived to India due to the myopic vision of Keshubhai Patel. By the time Modi took over Bangalore and Hyderabad were already hubs of the IT Sector. He cites a KPMG Report blaming the failure of the state to capitalise on the IT related Services on ‘a lack of engineering institutes” and “lack of proficiency in English’. It is imperative to know that in the last 5-6 years Gujarat has witnessed a multi-fold increase in the no of Engineering Colleges and the no of Engineering Seats. It is amusing how Aakar Patel takes a cue from Digvijay Singh and blames the lack of proficiency in English on RSS. On the contrary the Modi Government is making vast efforts to expand the reach of English for the common man. The Society for Creation of Opportunities through Proficiency in English (SCOPE) has been set up by the Modi Government with the motive of penetrating all age-groups and social groups3. It has already trained 3 lakh people in Gujarat! I sincerely hope that Aakar Patel has read the KPMG Report titled ‘Accelerating Growth in Gujarat’4, in totality, which he shares to substantiate his claims, for it has nothing but praise and adulation for the Gujarat Growth Story!
In a previous article, Aakar Patel claimed that all of Modi’s books are in Gujarati and never translated. I would like to draw his attention to the book called ‘Convenient Action- Gujarat’s response to challenges of climate change’5 penned by Modi in English. Modi also regularly blogs in English.
He hints that the youth may not like Modi’s model because alcohol is prohibited and non-veg food outlets are rare. This is an extremely frivolous statement because it was not Modi who banned alcohol and non-veg outlets are flourishing freely in Gujarat. But is India’s youth so disconnected with the reality, that alcohol and non-veg food is all that they desire? Wouldn’t the youth desire ample jobs, good governance, and proper law and order?
It is easy to treat Jaundice, but impossible to treat the Jaundiced vision of Aakar Patel and likes!