Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani during a roadshow ahead of the assembly elections in Ahmedabad. As the Bharatiya Janata Party wins the Gujarat legislative assembly elections, we lay out the main developmental challenges in the state that the new government will have to overcome.

As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) forms its fifth successive government in Gujarat--India’s westernmost state, with a population of 60.4 million--it faces the challenges of lower immunisation rates than the Indian average, low enrollment of girls in school, and low conviction rates for crimes against scheduled castes and tribes when compared to the India average.

Gujarat, the country’s sixth richest of 30 states in 2015-16, had a per capita income of Rs 122,502, 57% higher than India’s Rs 77,803 in 2015-16. Over the last 19 years of the BJP government, Gujarat’s per capita income increased ninefold, the overall crime rate fell from 267.3 per 100,000 people to 233.2, and the infant mortality rate (IMR-deaths per 1,000 live births) fell by more than 50%.

Still, immunisation rates were nearly 12 percentage points lower than India as of 2015-16, the sex ratio at birth at 907 girls per 1,000 boys in 2015-16 remains lower than the natural level of 943-980, stunting (low height for age) and wasting (low weight for height) rates were higher than other rich states such as Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Haryana, and learning levels have declined by 19 percentage points for upper primary school students in rural schools over the last six years, shows an IndiaSpend analysis of government data and the Annual Status of Education Reports.

IndiaSpend lays out each of these challenges in detail, based on an analysis of government data from 1998 (or the earliest available) to the latest available.

Challenge 1: Low immunisation coverage, high wasting prevalence

In 2015-16, 50.4% of children below two years in Gujarat were fully immunised, lower than some of India’s poorer BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states, IndiaSpend reported in April 2017.

Not only is Gujarat’s immunisation coverage 12 percentage points lower than India’s, it has also grown at a slower rate, according to data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). While India’s immunisation coverage improved by 18.5 percentage points in ten years from 2005-06 to 2015-16, Gujarat’s improved by only five percentage points.

Immunisation of children at a young age is one way to reduce infant mortality, as India loses 0.5 million children below the age of two years every year due to diseases preventable by vaccination.

Source: National Family Health Survey-4.

In Gujarat, the prevalence of wasting among children below the age of five years increased by nearly eight percentage points from 18.7% in 2005-06 to 26.4% in 2015-16, compared to a 1.2 percentage point increase in the Indian average rate of wasting (21% in 2015-16). In October 2017, 18 children, most of whom were underweight, died over three days at Ahmedabad’s main civil hospital, IndiaSpend reported in November 2017.

Gujarat’s health indicators are worse than other rich states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra, IndiaSpend reported in December 2017.

Source: National Family Health Survey-4

Himachal Pradesh, a state whose per capita income was almost equal to Gujarat’s in 2015-16, not only had wasting prevalence close to 13 percentage points lower than Gujarat in 2015-16, but also managed to reduce it over ten years, unlike Gujarat, where wasting increased.

Wasting results from inadequate nutrition. In 2015-16, 5.2% of children below two years received an adequate diet in Gujarat, compared to 9.6% in India, according to NFHS data.

This was despite an increase in health spending in Gujarat from 3.4% of aggregate expenditure in 2000-01, to 5.4% in 2016-17. India’s expenditure on health was 4.9% of aggregate expenditure in 2016-17.

Higher investment and better infrastructure do not always lead to an improvement in health outcomes, as IndiaSpend reported in December 2017.

Challenge 2: Low enrollment in secondary school, poor education quality

As many as 95% of all children in Gujarat enroll in primary school (grades I-V), but only 74% of secondary school-age (grades IX-X) children enroll in school, six percentage points lower than the Indian average of 80%, according to data from District Information System For Education (DISE).

At the higher secondary level (grades XI-XII), 43.4% of higher secondary school age children were enrolled in school in Gujarat, 13 percentage points lower than in India, and the sixth lowest among 30 states.

Source: District Information System For Education

Enrollment in higher education (age 18-23) in Gujarat has also been lower than the India average.

Source: All India Survey On Higher Education

Over six years to 2016, learning levels declined at the upper primary level in rural schools, according to the Annual Status of Education Report 2016, a citizen-led initiative measuring learning, managed by Pratham, an education nonprofit. In 2010, 54.3% of grade VIII students in government and private rural schools could perform division, which reduced to 35% in 2016. While 79% of grade VIII students could read at least a grade II level text in 2010, it reduced to 76.6% in 2016.

One of the reasons could be lower spending. The Gujarat government spent 14% of its aggregate expenditure in 2016-17 on education, fifth lowest among Indian states. The India average was 15.6%.

Challenge Three: Female empowerment

Gujarat’s sex ratio at birth saw no improvement in ten years--it was 906 girls per 1,000 boys in 2005-06 and 907 in 2015-16. The new government faces the challenge of improving the state’s sex ratio, as a natural sex ratio at birth is considered to be between 943-980 girls per 1,000 boys, according to calculations from this 2011 World Health Organisation report.

The literacy rate among women in Gujarat has remained higher than India over 10 years. However, India has shown a faster growth in its female literacy rate.

Source: National Family Health Survey-4

At the upper primary level, the dropout rate for girls in Gujarat in 2014-15 was 8.5%, the third highest in the country, according to DISE data. The India average was 4.6%.

At the secondary (grades IX-X) level, as few as 67% of secondary school-age girls enrolled in 2015-16, 14 percentage points lower than India’s 81%, according to DISE data. The drop-out rate, too, was higher at 23% in 2014-15, six percentage points higher than India’s 17%. The same trend continues at the higher secondary level, with a gross enrollment ratio of 41.4%, compared to India’s 56.4%.

Challenge Four: Low conviction rates for crimes against scheduled castes, tribes

Gujarat is one of five states (the others being Goa, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Nagaland) where the crime rate for crimes under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) fell in 2016 compared to 1998. In 1998, Gujarat’s crime rate was 267.3 per 100,000 people, which reduced to 233.2 cases in 2016--the tenth highest of all Indian states.

In 2016, Gujarat had a lower crime rate against women and children when compared to the India average, but it had a higher crime rate against scheduled castes.

Source: National Crime Record Bureau

Conviction rates of crimes against scheduled castes in Gujarat were nearly six times lower than the national average between 2004 and 2014, IndiaSpend reported in July 2016. The average conviction rate over this period was 5%, implying that out of every 100 suspects, as many as 95 were acquitted. The average conviction rate for India was 29%.

In 2016, the conviction rate of crimes against scheduled castes in Gujarat was 4.6%, while for India it was 25.7%, according to the latest NCRB data.

In terms of crimes against scheduled tribes, Gujarat’s crime rate was 3.2 per 100,000 population in 2016, lower than India’s 6.3. However, the conviction rate for such crimes was lower in Gujarat at 0.9% compared to India’s 20.8%.

(Nair is an intern with IndiaSpend.)

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