‘Bimaru’ states turn the tide, top growth charts

ENS Economic Bureau Posted: Dec 27, 2012 at 0117 hrs
New Delhi In the wake of the blistering growth rates set by some of the country’s most backward states, the Planning Commission is slated to tell the National Development Council (NDC) meeting on Thursday that the concept of “Bimaru” states has, more or less, outlived its relevance as most of the states bracketed under this acronym have now stolen a march over the others.

The term ‘Bimaru’ was coined by a demographer Ashish Bose in the early 1980s, whereby he had classified Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh as laggards struggling to keep up in comparison with the growth rates set by other states.

But the commission’s chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has reasoned that the term can be decisively done away with as states like Bihar and Madhya Pradesh have topped the growth charts and are far above the national average.

According to data compiled by the apex planning body, to be unveiled at tomorrow’s NDC meeting, some of the Bimaru states have witnessed better growth and income distribution in comparison to the others. For instance, it says that district-level poverty estimates reveal that the poorest districts in India lie not only in undivided Bimaru states and Orissa, but also in rich states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Further, 24 per cent of the poorest Indian states recorded a growth rate of 6.3 per cent between 2002 and 2008 — compared to less than 4.9 between 1987 and 2002. On the contrary, the growth in richer states like Punjab has perceptibly slowed down. Ahluwalia said that on 29 socio-economic indicators such as education, gender balance and population growth, the disparity between rich and poor states has reduced.

This re-alignment of growth in states coupled with persistent global economic slowdown has led to the commission lowering its growth projection to 8 per cent from the earlier 8.2 per cent.

“Our objective is that we should be going in for a more optimistic scenario... And probably if we reflect, what we now know (is that) instead of 8.2 per cent, it would be better to pitch it at 8 per cent,” Ahluwalia told a news conference today.

This is the second time that the plan panel has lowered its growth projection for the Twelfth Plan. Initially, after estimating the growth rate at 9 per cent in the Approach Paper, it had lowered the target to 8.2 per cent in September 2012.

Ahluwalia said the economy will have to clock 9 per cent growth during the last three years of the plan period to achieve 8 per cent growth the economy. “I would say that even 8 per cent average, if you work it out based on 5.8 for current year or 7 per cent next year, it will mean ... 9 per cent for the next few years. That’s quite an ambitious target,” he pointed out.