Statistics are like bikini. What it reveals is suggestive, but what it conceals is vital – this legendary quote by Prof Aaron Levenstein explains the reality behind Meghalaya being India’s fastest growing state! The annual Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) rate (9.7%) of the insurgency-ravaged state, which mostly depends on grants from Central government, only endorses Prof Legenstein’s remark that how much vital things the statistics can conceal. The statistics, if truly analysed, might even have bewilder none other than the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, since the research is based on 2013-14 figures, when he was still the chief minister of Gujarat. Modi won the country’s election promising to bring the same ‘achhe din’ of Gujarat to the nation. But he statistically was ‘wrong’ then as his state was growing slower than Meghalaya, a tiny Congress-ruled state!
In a nation, one Tata or Ambani can push the GDP growth rate by several per cent! Does Meghalaya’s ‘stupendous’ growth rate suggests something of this sort? Are some people getting rich and richer, draining on the state’s resources, and allowing chief minister Mukul Sangma to thump his chest? Was this money that has shown the state in great light earned at the cost of the poor? There has been no security of human life in half of the state (Garo Hills) for over a decade and the situation is no better now. Kidnappings, lootings, murders are the order of the day in the region. At this juncture, calling an irony the statistics prepared by indiaspend.com will be an understatement.
Economic condition in Meghalaya, and for that matter in any of the north-eastern state, cannot be compared to some worst parts of the country. This region, bestowed with resources and bio-diversity, has not seen any trend of farmer suicide yet. But no government can take credit for it. In fact, Assam’s GSDP was much higher than the country’s GDP in the first decade after Independence. The region was never dependent on the rest of India. People must not read much into the ‘high’ GSDP rate try to see the reality around them and across the state. After all, statistics cannot feed the population unless there is real growth in the ground.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on February 6, 2016)