On occasions Gujarat’s development and growth scenarios look enviable but at the same time, it is also perceived as an enigma. How is this state able to attract investments and at the same time invest outside the state substantially? In every nook and corner of the world one can find a Gujarati, yet in some sectors notably in education there is a shortage of qualified manpower. The state’s growth rate is indeed worth emulating by others, however, there are serious questions raised on the human development front. This book, a collection of eleven articles by eminent scholars, takes these questions head on and presents some indications; it could have been more forthright in presenting perspectives for the future though. Yet, the analytical rigour is evident in many of the articles. Sunil Parekh traces the industrial development in Gujarat over the 18th and 19th centuries.
This insightful paper not only puts the industrial development in a historical perspective but also provides the basis for many of the arguments in the other papers as to how the industrial capital in Gujarat is the highest compared to other states in India. Parekh also lists sectors where the state has emerged as the significant player. Awasthi and Kashyap also point out the large spatial spread of industries and the types of clusters of industries that have developed in the various districts of Gujarat. Evidently, the large-scale industry composition has always been biased in favour of the chemical and now petrochemical sector. And, the dispersed clusters contribute to the engineering sector. The price this structure calls for is to be paid in future—in terms of pollution.
Though in recent times investment in physical infrastructure is being made yet on the score of human development much needs to be done. As Parekh has pointed out ports have provided a great impetus for the growth of hinterland but the investment need of the hour besides physical infrastructure is a bold policy initiative for exports and labour reform. Sebastian Morris while tracing the recent growth experience has pointed out that during the recession period from 1998–99 to 2001–02, Gujarat had higher variations with respect to industrial growth than India and due to the nature of industries has a high dependence on national industrial growth scenario. Thus inappropriate national level policies have larger adverse effect on Gujarat and that the state has to have a policy advisory and lobby to work for it. The critical area that needs the Government of Gujarat’s attention is energy. According to Morris a large part of electricity produced is sold to industry, the agricultural demand being around thirty percent, and the household demand is quite small. Though the Gujarat government has adopted a farsighted energy reform, the initiative seems to be much on the regulator. Morris also discusses other infrastructures like oil and gas, water and so on but cautions that merely opening up to the private players even on PPP mode is not sufficient.