- POSTED: 09 Oct 2013 00:04
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The latest report from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India slammed Narendra Modi's administration for shoddy implementation of a scheme aimed at fighting malnutrition among children and young girls.
NEW DELHI: The latest report from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has come as a huge embarrassment for Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for India's Bharatiya Janata Party.
Modi was nominated based on the success of his three consecutive tenures as Chief Minister of Gujarat. Impressive industrial growth under his leadership has made him a hero in the eyes of local businessmen.
However, the latest social development indicators for the state of over 60 million people paint a much less rosy picture.
The report has slammed the Modi administration for shoddy implementation of a scheme aimed at fighting malnutrition among children and young girls. It states that every third child in the state is malnourished.
The figures are alarming. In Ahmedabad district, which is considered to be the commercial capital of the state, more than 85,000 children are malnourished.
In addition, there has been little progress to improve sanitation.
Figures from the 2011 Census showed that at least 67 per cent of households do not have access to toilets, and sanitation in rural areas has been severely neglected.
Indian National Congress politician and current president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, said: "All the evidence backs this up. The human development index of Gujarat too said that its condition is not up to the mark. Whether it's the condition of women, children or the Dalits (untouchables), they are suffering and their condition is terrible. Gujarat is considered as one of India's five worst states in terms of malnutrition cases."
Other than fairing badly on health and nutrition grounds, education also seems to have taken a low priority as far as state government spending is concerned.
Gujarat ranks a lowly 18th when it comes to success in keeping children in school.
In its recent report, UNICEF pointed out that the state needed to concentrate on improving education standards and on making education accessible to all, rather than simply promoting private educational institutions, which bring in easy money.
These and other poor social indicators have led observers to question Modi's leadership ability.
"If he is incompetent in his own state, he cannot be competent in India. If he comes to power in Delhi, how can he take care of the problem of growing poverty and also destitution of the common people?" questioned Gurudas Dasgupta, leader of the Communist Party of India.
The report has taken the shine off Modi's Gujarat growth model as it comes at a time when Modi is promoting it at national level while campaigning for the country's highest office.
It has led many to reassess whether the reality of life under his leadership at state level is worth the economic growth he is promising at the national level.