Is ‘Gujarat model’ flawed? Sam Pitroda stresses on 'bottom-up development'

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Gandhinagar, Dec 4: In the run-up to the Gujarat Assembly elections, the opposition Congress has been continuously targetting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the alleged failure of the much-talked-about "Gujarat model of development", which is one of the main reasons behind Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister of the country in 2014.

Joining the criticism against the "Gujarat model of development", touted to be the success mantra behind the state's all-round development under then chief minister Modi, is Sam Pitroda, who is known as the father of Indian telecom.

sam pitroda

In fact, Pitroda, who was instrumental in launching India's telecom revolution in the mid-1980s under then PM Rajiv Gandhi, debunked the "Gujarat model of development" propagated by the BJP.

Pitroda said Gujarat "needs a bottom-up approach" discarding the top-down method that favours only big corporates at the cost of poor and marginalised sections.

"Gujarat needs a Gandhian model of bottom-up development. Development should not be assessed in terms of how many lakhs or crores of rupees you can bring in an investment at global investors' conferences. It doesn't mean you dislike big corporates. But what will transform Gujarat is what do you do for the poor," Pitroda told IANS.

The telecom inventor and entrepreneur is said to have played a major role in drafting the Congress manifesto for the Gujarat Assembly elections. The elections in the state are scheduled on December 9 and 14. The results of the Gujarat Assembly elections and the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, held on November 9, will be declared together on December 18, stated the Election Commission (EC).

Pitroda, the former Telecom Commission chairperson, questioned the growth figures. "The growth figures in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) look good, but what does it translate into for the ordinary Gujaratis?" he asked.

The telecom inventor and entrepreneur, who is known to be close to the Gandhi family, is said to have played a pivotal role in organising Rahul Gandhi's recent visit and engagements in the United States (US). He has recently toured Gujarat extensively to talk to various groups.

Pitroda stated that Gujarat needs a new design of development as the gap between the haves and the have-nots have increased.

He added that in the alternative narrative of governance in Gujarat, if the Congress comes to power, would be the creation of a Gujarat Advisory Council on the lines of the National Advisory Council, which was initially formed during the time of the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA-I) government in 2004 and continued during UPA -II (2009-14) to properly guide the government for an egalitarian development model.

During his interaction with farmers, Dalits, women, fishermen, traders, and NGOs in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Rajkot, Surat and Jamnagar, 75-year-old Pitroda said there is a tremendous discontent among the people of Gujarat.

He stressed on the need to end privatisation of education and provide access to healthcare to one and all. "We need to make medical education affordable. We need doctors in rural areas so that the health system does not collapse," he said.

Pitroda alleged that women are facing a lot of trouble in the state as most often victims of crimes don't get justice.

He added traders and small and medium entrepreneurs were groaning under the adverse impact of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

"Overall I found youth, women, farmers, Dalits, and Muslims dissatisfied," Pitroda said.

As the campaigning in the poll-bound state has reached its zenith, both PM Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul are busy attacking each other in rallies.

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