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A Miracle Or Strategized Plan?

Anita K. Dixit

Edited by Ravindra H. Dholaki and Samar K. Datta
Macmillan, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 192, Rs. 175.00


This book is an ambitious attempt to analyse the agricultural growth miracle of Gujarat. The editors point out in the preface that this is really no miracle but .a result of a well thought out strategy, meticulously planned and coordinated scheme of action, political will to take bold decisions and therefore reasonably replicable. The chapters of the book make an attempt to understand the various aspects of the miracle. The volume covers a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from a macroeconomic analysis of agricultural growth (Dholakia), to reflections on the process (Pathak and Shah), to specific growth engine products (cotton: Gandhi and Namboodiri; castor and psyllium: Singh; fruits and vegetables: Datta; livestock: Sharma and Thaker), and finally to factors contributing to high growth (irrigation: Parthasarthy; infrastructure: Rastogi and Dholakia). Contributors to this book appear to have reached a consensus on the overall benefits and the lasting nature of the agricultural spurt in Gujarat. Indeed, the analysis in the first chapter by Ravindra Dholakia, an expert in the field, lays the cornerstone of this thesis. It presents a convincing statistical argument regarding the comprehensive nature as well as sustainability of the high growth trajectory of the agricultural sector. The author argues that the break point for agricultural growth in the state coincided with Indias economic liberalization policies, and that it is in these last twenty years that agriculture has become an important contributor to the states growth, indeed, that of the country as a whole. The next chapter provides an insight into a range of important topics, which might, however, gain from more in-depth analysis if one is to conclude, as the authors do, that it is a success story. The authors suggest there are some issues that require careful future planningspecifically, canal irrigation and farmer oriented marketing reforms; the article would have benefitted from some detailed narration of such issues as caution points. The next four chapters deal with growth processes in specific products. The cotton story examines the growth of Bt cotton across four states, in terms of trends, as well as through a scrutiny of the possible factors responsible for its success especially in Gujarat. It contains a set of useful regressions, examining the impact of Bt use alongside other variables on yield, output, cost and profit (Table 3.21). The detailed description of the varieties of Bt and non-Bt cotton used by farmers (Table 3.13) is perhaps more interesting to ...

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