Is the Gujarat model of development - one of the central themes of this year's Lok Sabha election - a hype or a success built around concepts pioneered by Narendra Modi? Experts at a book release function agreed that the Gujarat or 'Modi model' was about economic freedom, innovation and creating a sense of pride among people.
The book, `Centrestage - Inside the Modi Model of Governance' , authored by Uday Mahurkar, was released Thursday evening by Aroon Purie, editor-in-chief of India Today group. Its among the growing pile of new books timed to enter the public discourse during the elections.
Economist Bibek Debroy said that the Gujarat model was not merely about GDP growth numbers but "about certain principles" such as public-private partnership concerning the corporate as well as the social sector. He said that Modi, the Gujarat chief minister who is prime ministerial candidate of Bharatiya Janata Party, had sought to empower bureaucracy and showed that even the poor were willing to pay if services were efficient.
Debroy said the Bharatiya Janata Party had indicated that it was in favour of decentralization and relaxing rigidity of central schemes.
"Getting rid of subsidies will be incentivized through tweaking of central schemes (if Modi becomes prime minister)," he said.
He said the country needs a good administrator as "we don't know if a PM exists."
Surjit Bhalla, economist and chairman of Oxus Investments, said the book gives a close understanding of "how Modi's mind works." He said that it was difficult to maintain a constant high growth rate but Gujarat had done it under Modi.
Bhalla also said that agriculture growth story in Gujarat was "genuine." It is very hard to get average agricultural growth rate above 3.5 percent on a sustained basis. He (Modi) has achieved it for 10 years," Bhalla said.
Bhalla said large part of Gujarat model was economic freedom.
"Basically the philosophy (under Modi) will be a lot more economic freedom," he said. Bhalla added that Modi had turned several loss making state undertakings into profitable entities.
Management expert Sunil Alagh said that Modi was an action-oriented leader and will implement the BJP manifesto which has his imprint. Narrating how Modi had used the 'chaiwala' (tea seller) jibe at him to his advantage, Alagh said Modi's team was efficient and delivers on what their leader instructs.
He said Modi had taken his cabinet to IIM Ahmedabad for lectures on good governance months after he took over as chief minister of Gujarat.
He said the Modi government should give priority to improving infrastructure.
Releasing the book, Purie said it talks about how fundamentals of governance has been changed by Modi at the ground level.
Purie said Modi believed that people were willing to pay if there was quality in service and Gujarat had sought to move away from dole style of governance. He said Modi had sought to tackle "lethargy of bureaucracy", had used technology aggressviely to reach out to people, given "wonderful taglines" to his programmes and tried to be innovative by doing old things differently.
Mahurkar, a senior editor with India Today who has been following Modi's career since 1986, said that the Gujarat chief minister was a controversial person and he had thought that writing a balanced book will be a difficult task.
He said Gujarat's state gross domestic product grew by over 12 percent between 2007 and 2012. He said Jyotigram was a landmark scheme and Modi government had laid 90,000 km of transmission lines in 1,000 days, something that was done in over 40 years in Gujarat.
He said per capita income had grown in the state and Muslim community had progressed in terms of economic indicators.
"The argument that development has backed only the affluent class in wrong if you go by the figures."
He said Modi had restructured power sector by taking tough decisions and sought to free governance from vote-bank consideration.
"I call Modi master of convergence," Mahurkar said.
He said Modi had sought to create pride in people and based his model on "oneness."
He said that the policy adopted by M odi had helped to bring down price of solar power, boosted micro irrigation and taken steps to raise water table in the state.