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India's best states: Who are the best and most improved performers

This is a race that needs to catch on if India's states are to reduce disparities and bring their people out of poverty and into prosperity.

 |  3-minute read |   23-11-2018
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India is a tale of one country but a story of many states. The dominant narrative of cooperative federalism where the Centre and states work together is now slowly moving towards one of competitive, cooperative federalism.

States are now competing with each other for investments that will set up industries, lead to job creation and pull more people out of poverty.

The new mantra is development.

If there's any doubt, take a look at the ongoing election campaign for the three heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Candidates in these politically crucial states are promising roads, development and jobs and not talking about religion, caste or community.

We recognised this shifting trend way back in 2003 when we launched the first State of the States survey, assessing which Indian state had made the most of the opportunities of liberalisation in India.

Now in its 17th edition, the INDIA TODAY-MDRA State of the States Survey has emerged as a comprehensive barometer of the performance of Indian states.

This year, we have tweaked the methodology by expanding attributes across categories and rejigging weightages to level the playing field.

Competition in the State of the States survey, we are happy to report, has been intense.

As many as 27 of the 31 states we examined have bagged awards across multiple categories. Our rankings reveal some good news and some bad news.

The good news first — traditional laggards in the best performing states category have registered the fastest growth in the past five years.

Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar are our 'most improved states' even though they figure at the bottom of the list of best performing states.

ite-sos-cover-dec3st_112318034020.jpgIndia Today cover story, India's Best States, for December 3, 2018.

That these states, including some associated with that acronym of slow growth, BIMARU, are now clocking double-digit growth rates of 10 per cent — higher than economic behemoths like Maharashtra and Punjab — makes one thing very clear: they are intent on shedding their reputation as laggards, and on doing so quickly.

Now the bad news.

The growth disparity of states continues to be one of the biggest challenges our country faces. Certain states like Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra reflect an almost uniform progress across categories.

In sharp contrast, two large states in the east — Odisha and West Bengal — do not top any of the 12 categories we have identified, whether it be economy, tourism, infrastructure, inclusive development, governance, law & order, entrepreneurship, cleanliness, environment, health, education or agriculture.

While north Indian states have been gaining on the economic powerhouses of west and south India, the real divide remains between urban and rural India. Cities account for just 31 per cent of India's population but constitute nearly 65 per cent of India's GDP.

These are disparities that call for tremendous political vision and a relentless focus on growth and development.

Since 2015, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), whose job it is to encourage the growth of the industrial sector, has teamed up with the World Bank to release a Business Reform Action Plan.

This index ranks states on the basis of their scores on ease of doing business. As we have discovered over the years through multiple editions of ranking states, nothing gets our CEO CMs moving like the prospect of competitive federalism.

This is a race that needs to catch on if India's states are to reduce disparities and bring their people out of poverty and into prosperity.

(India Today Editor-in-Chief's note for cover story, India's Best States, for December 3, 2018)

Also read: Economy in distress: Is there a way out?

Assembly Elections 2018
Assembly Elections 2018

Writer

Aroon Purie Aroon Purie @aroonpurie

The writer is chairman and editor-in-chief of the India Today Group.

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