As I drink chai after taking a walk and read the daily news in my small garden in Thaltej, I see that my article on models and postures in the Indian Express, May 7 (http://goo.gl/L9kA6D), seems to have led to a lot of excitement. But, in all the excitement on account of the elections, the two points I made in the article remain untouched. I had said that poverty in Gujarat is falling but it is very high at 60% in the Adivasi belt, which we call the Poorvi Patti. I had also said that the growth rate in agriculture in Gujarat in FY12 over FY11 was 4.8%, which worried me. Like all the debates in Delhi, no one answered, advised or commented on these facts. Instead, I got abused, putting it more politely, questioned. Typical.
Surjit Bhalla, in his article on May 10 (http://goo.gl/IKPj3X), questions me for saying that generally poverty levels are negatively associated with income levels and so a low poverty level in Gujarat is a no-brainer. He then goes on to say that “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 Bhalla. When you say per capita income is important, you are kosher, when I say that, I am to be questioned. Bhalla goes on to say that I don’t present any evidence but my article says “Gujarat’s problem is not all this old hat stuff that the corridor between Palanpur and Vapi is growing and poverty levels there are lower. As we have pointed out time and again, its problem is what is called the Poorvi Patti. These are the districts where the Adivasi population lives in larger numbers when it is not migrating for work. This is a highly researched area, shown by research studies in Gujarat, and an excellent summary piece at the NSS region level, by Srijit Mishra at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in Mumbai. In this NSS region, which is the Adivasi belt, poverty levels amongst Adivasis, at around 60%, are higher than what the late Asis Bose used to call the BIMARU states.” I am citing the study which gives the evidence I am using, but to Bhalla, I don’t present any evidence. Incidentally, Srijit Mishra, one of the more careful scholars on poverty estimation in India, is