For decades, UP continued to stagnate as a BIMARU state, languishing behind almost all other states on most parameters of development.
Uttar Pradesh is a poignant puzzle: India’s political pivot, a cultural fountainhead, yet an economic backwater. With nine out of 14 prime ministers from the state, UP has controlled New Delhi over the decades. Allahabad was home of the Nehrus from the time of Motilal Nehru, father of Jawaharlal Nehru. Even PM Narendra Modi was elected from Varanasi in 2014. Birthplace of Rama in Ayodhya, Krishna in Mathura and abode of Shiva in Varanasi, UP is the crucible of Hindu civilisation. Deoband, Bareilly and Aligarh make the state the vortex of Islam. Buddha first taught dharma in Sarnath. Yet UP’s political and cultural dominance has never led to economic dynamism.
This paradox stems from its extraordinary size and population. It is the most populous state in India; had it been a country, its 204.2 million population would have made it the fifth most populous in the world, even larger than Brazil. Its 243,286 sq km area makes UP fourth after Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra in size.
The continental size and central geographical location have historically provided UP a dominant political role in India that is unmatched by any other state. For long, Agra-Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the great Mughals. In 1857, UP (then United Provinces of Agra and Oudh) was the hub for the first war of Indian independence.
Uttar Pradesh is marginally more prosperous than Bihar and Madhya Pradesh (Population below poverty line, 2012%)
Yet, UP for years has remained a natural resource-rich state mired, ironically, in a low-level economic equilibrium trap. For decades, UP continued to stagnate as a BIMARU (an acronym for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and UP, referring to their poor economic conditions) state, languishing behind almost all other states on most parameters of development.
Overall, UP, at 3.38 per cent, witnessed the slowest growth amongst all the states, lower than the national average of 4.66 per cent. It saw positive growth in three sectors-0.79 per cent in agriculture, 4.6 per cent in industry and 4.28 per cent in services. It performed below the national average in agriculture and services, but above in industry.
Bihar, Rajasthan and MP performed better than UP in overall GVA. Bihar declined in agriculture and industry. However, the growth in services was enough to push it to an annual growth rate of 6 per cent. In agriculture, MP grew substantially while its industry declined. Rajasthan did moderately well in all the three sectors, outperforming UP.
UP lags behind Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat in the growth rate of the services sector. In industry, it did better than Maharashtra, but was behind Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Gujarat registered an impressive growth rate of 10 per cent in industry. In agriculture, UP was behind Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, but ahead of Maharashtra.
Elephant on a trot since 2004
For over two decades, from 1980 to 2003, India’s GDP growth averaged around 6 per cent annually. The 1991 reforms surprisingly produced no dramatic acceleration. But then, without any new policy impetus, GDP growth suddenly surged between 2004 and 2012, to average at 8.28 per cent.
The acceleration in growth was even more dramatic in the relatively backward states: GDP growth in UP more than doubled from a low 3.3 per cent to an unprecedented 7.2 per cent. Although overall growth remained below the national average, the state grew at a much faster rate. This could be attributed to a sudden spurt in services, which more than doubled from 4.65 per cent between 2000 and 2004 to 9.7 per cent between 2004 and 2012. In industry, the jump in the corresponding period was from 3.46 per cent to 7.4 per cent, and in agriculture, from 1.6 per cent to 2.9 per cent.
Although the tipping point of economic growth began in UP from 2003-2004, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav‘s six big-ticket development projects in revamping the state’s infrastructure in recent years have inspired new hope among the people. With a private sector boom in education, health, agriculture and tourism, the UP story is one of an emerging economy ready for a capitalist take-off. The ruling Samajwadi Party has coined two slogans, of Uttar Pradesh as Ummeedon ka Pradesh (province of hopes) and Uttam Pradesh (perfect province).
Political crisis usually effects economic push. The infrastructure revamp-led economic growth by the SP government picked up immensely, especially after the 2014 Lok Sabha election, when the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party swept to power in an unprecedented wave, winning 73 of the 80 parliamentary seats from UP. A devastated ruling SP, which barely managed five seats-all Yadav family members-desperately began launching development projects. As the 2017 assembly elections loom, most of these have been officially inaugurated by the SP government despite being far from completion.
Among them are the 23 km Lucknow Metro Rail, budgeted at a whopping Rs 6,900 crore. The government plans to introduce metro rail in other cities as well, such as Agra, Kanpur, Meerut, Varanasi, Ghaziabad and Greater Noida.
The six-lane 302 km Lucknow-Agra Expressway, inaugurated recently by the chief minister, is likely to reduce travel time between Agra and Lucknow by four hours. The state government has launched an ambitious scheme to connect all district headquarters through four-lane roads. So far, 18,470 km of roads have been completed. Next, villages will be connected to such roads through metalled arterial roads. Over 100 overhead bridges and flyovers, slated to cost over Rs 2,000 crore, are being constructed.
In an exclusive interview to india today, Akhilesh Yadav also highlighted some of the lesser-known achievements in the rural areas during his rule. Since droughts for two consecutive years ravaged rural districts across the state, particularly in Bundelkhand, the Akhilesh government provided irrigation subsidy to farmers, which covered an additional 1.2 million hectare of agricultural land. As a result, farmers have been freed from paying water tax for draining water to irrigate their fields from rivers and canals. Over Rs 700 crore has been waived under this scheme, benefitting more than 5.5 million farmers. Under this scheme, regions devoid of irrigation facilities for the last 30 years have been irrigated. An additional 1.5 Mha of farmland has been irrigated in the past four years through this scheme. Furthermore, loans of 786,187 farmers, totalling Rs 1,788 crore, have been waived.
The Ram Manohar Lohia Samagra Gram Vikas Yojana and the Janeshwar Mishra Gram Yojana are supposed to cover over 10,000 villages for roads and drains. Hand-pumps and rebored deep tube wells are being set up in thousands of villages by the UP Jal Nigam and UP State Agro Industrial Corporation. Under the UP State Rural Livelihood Mission’s ‘Prerna’ initiative, 0.6 million rural people from 0.124 million disadvantaged families are supposed to benefit. The free ambulance service helpline 108, with 1,500 ambulances for the critically ill and expectant mothers, has been particularly popular.
West versus East UP
Despite such development schemes and rising economic growth, there continues to be a chasm between the eastern and western regions of the state. They could, in fact, be two different states-a surging western UP and a relatively stagnating eastern UP. Given that western UP’s per capita GDP is almost double that of the eastern half, the east-west divide in the state is even sharper than was between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana at the time of their bifurcation. The contrast is the sharpest if one approaches UP by road from two directions: from Delhi in the west and Bihar in the east. The two regions look decades apart, if not centuries. It is this sharp division that results in the state’s average falling below all other states.
The road journey to UP from Delhi via the eight-lane DND (Delhi-Noida-Direct) Flyway across the Yamuna heads eastwards towards Noida, Greater Noida in Gautam Buddh Nagar district. One will pass through the six-lane Yamuna Expressway that heads to Agra via Mathura. Both sides of the expressway have gigantic billboards proudly advertising realty companies, golf courses, IT companies and media companies. You pass by the spacious but incomplete Buddh International Circuit Formula One stadium, various management and technical institutes and buildings housing MNCs. The entire experience is exhilarating.
In contrast, the approach from National Highway 28, linking the industrial town of Barauni in Bihar to UP’s capital Lucknow, is not only much more modest but arduous and unsafe. The dusty strip between the Saryu river bridge and the Bihar-UP border near Gopalganj is littered with potholes filled either with dirty monsoon water or simply mud and sharp stone chips, making driving dangerous, particularly at night. The crowded cities and towns on both sides of the highway-Kushinagar, Deoria, Gorakhpur, Sant Kabir Nagar, Basti-interspersed with long stretches of barren fields are some of the poorest zones of the state. The internal roads in Deoria are a nightmare.
State of the State analysis
So, it is no surprise that the India Today State of the State analysis reveals that most of UP’s well-off districts are clustered in its westernmost part (Paschim Pradesh or Harit Pradesh), whereas most of the backward districts are located in the eastern region, particularly the Bhojpuri-speaking districts of Purvanchal, including exceptions like Varanasi and Allahabad. The per capita income of western UP touches Rs 15,870 whereas that of eastern UP is a miserable Rs 9,288, according to one estimate.
With seven districts, Bundel-khand, bordering MP, is equally poor and comparable to Purvanchal. However, because of the low density of population, the per capita income is relatively higher at Rs 12,878. Jhansi district is the only urbanised area in Bundelkhand with some prosperity. Awadh, with 21 districts, including the industrial corridor of Lucknow and Kanpur, once the land of taluqdars and nawabs, is somewhere in between, with a per capita income of Rs 13,150. The average per capita income of the entire state is estimated at Rs 12,136.
In order to avoid the winners being from the urban areas of West UP and the laggards from the rural areas of East UP and other regions, the State of the State survey decided to focus on both the level of development as well as the most improved districts in the last 10 years.
Before we discuss the highlights from the districts, let us lay out the purpose of the State of the State survey. With a firm belief that the future of the country lies in its states and Union territories, the State of the State survey has, since 2003, emerged as the touchstone for analysing the performance of states.
The survey does a sector-wise analysis at the level of the district. We prepared a detailed view of each district on 10 categories of development-each category a composite index of a few parameters.
Overall Best District
Gautam Buddh Nagar
Gautam Buddh Nagar district’s fortunes changed with Noida, which was carved out in 1976. Noida was ranked the Best City in UP and the Best City in Housing in India in 2015. Today, Gautam Buddh Nagar is the preferred destination for the IT industry and banking, finance, pharma and media companies. A study by Assocham says the district’s advantages are its proximity to Delhi, good infrastructure, top educational institutions and skilled manpower.
In Education, we considered four parameters: Dropout Rate (Classes 1-5), Pupil to Teacher Ratio (Primary), Number of Schools and Ratio of Boys to Girls (Primary). Etawah tops in the first and the third parameters, is seventh in the fourth and 33rd in the second parameter. At the second spot, we have Kanpur Dehat that leads in Pupil-Teacher Ratio. There is a very tight race for the third spot, with four districts in a tie. Barabanki emerges as the third best with a lower variation in its rank across parameters.
In Infrastructure, Ghaziabad tops the list. It has the highest proportion of households with electricity connection and the second highest proportion of households with landline telephones. Ghaziabad is followed by Agra, which ranks third and fourth in the same parameters as above. Gautam Buddh Nagar completes the top 3 rankings.
In Agriculture, Pilibhit, with its high agriculture GDP per capita (rank 5) and high net irrigated area as a percentage of net sown area (rank 6), beats all the other districts to become the best district. Kanpur Dehat and Shahjahanpur complete the top 3 in this category. As usual, most of the laggards in agriculture lie in the eastern part of UP and the top performers are spread across the remaining regions.
In Water and Sanitation, Gautam Buddh Nagar has the best facilities, despite being ranked 19 in the percentage of households connected with closed water drainage. The district gets the top spot mainly due to two reasons: one, it ranks second in percentage of households with a proper latrine, Ghaziabad being the best; two, it ranks third in the percentage of households with proper water supply, closely followed by Mahoba and Lucknow. Overall, Rampur and Mahoba districts complete the top three.
In Prosperity, Gautam Buddh Nagar is again perched at the top, mainly because of three para-meters-per capita spending (rank 1), per capita GDP (rank 1) and percentage of households earning less than Rs 75,000 annually (rank 2). As for the employment rate, the district ranks 35; it ranks 19 on the parameter of bank credit per person. Gautam Buddh Nagar is closely followed by Ghaziabad. Lucknow, with a higher proportion of households earning over Rs 75,000 annually, finds itself in the third spot.
In Industry, Gautam Buddh Nagar again bags the top spot, aided by its good performance in all the metrics. It has the highest industry GDP per capita, the second highest number of workers employed in industry and the second highest proportion of industry in the overall GDP. Ghaziabad and Bhadohi complete the top 3 ranks in this category. Quite a few industrial performers lie in western UP. There are a few scattered around in the eastern region as well, such as Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Kanpur Nagar, and Sant Ravidas Nagar.
In Services, Lucknow marches ahead to become the best performing district. While it ranks second in both services GDP per capita and percentage of workers employed in the services sector, it holds the fourth position in services to GDP ratio. It is followed by Varanasi and Gautam Buddh Nagar. It might seem amusing to see Lucknow and Varanasi ranked above Gautam Buddh Nagar; however, on close assessment, one finds that the contribution of services in Gautam Buddh Nagar is much lower than in the other two districts. Both the western and eastern parts of UP have a few districts doing well in services.
In Health, Sant Kabir Nagar, Baghpat and Sultanpur are the top three districts. Sant Kabir Nagar, with a total score of 79, tops the list. It ranks second in awareness of HIV amongst women and sixth in awareness of the danger signs of pneumonia. Sant Kabir Nagar is surrounded by districts performing not so well. The other well-performing districts are clustered in the western region, bordering Delhi and Haryana.
In Governance, or law and order, Shrawasti, with the second lowest incidence of rape and a better than the state average in incidence of cognisable crimes per person, incidence of murder and incidence of kidnapping and abduction, gets the top spot. On careful study, one finds Lucknow and Gautam Buddh Nagar to be performing better than Shrawasti as regards violent crimes (rape, murder, kidnapping and abduction). However, in terms of other crimes, such as theft, robbery and dowry, Shrawasti performs considerably better than these relatively more urbanised districts.
In Overall Best District, Gautam Buddh Nagar tops the list, closely followed by Ghaziabad and Varanasi. Gautam Buddh Nagar’s ranking in various categories is as follows: education, rank 33; infrastructure, 4; agriculture, 66; law and order, 5; water and sanitation, 1; prosperity, 1; industry, 1; services, 3; and health, 8.
MOST IMPROVED DISTRICTS
In Education, while Deoria doesn’t feature in the top five in any of the parameters considered in this category, it performs moderately well in all the categories to bag the top rank. It ranks sixth in the ratio of girls to boys enrolment in schools, 11th in the number of schools per 10,000 population (access to education) and eighth on the pupil-teacher ratio. Gorakhpur performs exceedingly well on two measures-dropout rate (rank 2) and ratio of boys to girls enrolment (rank 1). However, it lags behind on the other two parameters by a long way and is ranked second. Balrampur is ranked third; it gets pulled down to rank 3 mainly due to the number of schools per 10,000 population.
While the award-winners from western UP were the most developed districts, the winners from Awadh and eastern UP were the most improved districts. Eastern UP does relatively better on the scale of improvement. Reason: while it is easier for districts at the bottom to achieve substantial improvement, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the same momentum if one is at the top.
In Infrastructure, Rae Bareli is ranked 1 in terms of improvement in the percentage of households with electricity connection (98 per cent improvement in 10 years). It saw considerable improvement in the percentage of pucca houses as a proportion of total houses (rank 3) and bank branches per 10,000 population (rank 13). It is followed by Mahamaya Nagar. This district gets pulled down to the second spot primarily due a moderate improvement in the percentage of households with landline phones. On the other parameters, it either performs better than Rae Bareli or gives it a tough competition for the top spot.
In Agriculture, Lalitpur, with a sizeable improvement in the percentage of cultivators employed in agriculture (rank 2), agriculture GDP per capita (rank 1), foodgrain yield (rank 1) and percentage of labourers employed in agriculture (rank 1), gets the top spot. The improvement in Lalitpur far exceeds the second-ranked Kanshiram Nagar and third-ranked Jhansi. Kanshiram Nagar, doing well on all the metrics as Lalitpur, performs poorly in the net irrigated to net sown area ratio.
In Water and Sanitation, Kanpur Dehat is the most improved district. It gets rank 4 in the percentage of households with proper latrine, rank 4 in the percentage of households with tap water supply and rank 6 in the percentage of households with a waste water outlet connected to a closed drainage. This gives Kanpur Dehat a considerable lead over the second-ranked Fatehpur and Kushinagar district, which is third.
In Prosperity, Agra leads as the most improved district. Agra is the second most improved district in per capita GDP, the sixth most improved in per capita spending, second most improved in employment rate and the fourth most improved in percentage of households earning less than Rs 75,000 annually. Meerut and Badaun districts, ranked second and third, do well on four out of the five parameters. But they get pushed down by Agra.
In Industry, Fatehpur tops the list of most improved districts, notching the second best improvement in industry to GDP ratio and the second best improvement in industry GDP per capita, though the improvement in the percentage of workers employed in industry stands at rank 11. Faizabad, ranked the second most improved district in industry, performs well on industry to district GDP ratio (rank 3) and percentage of workers employed in industry (rank 2), but falls to rank 17 in industry to GDP ratio. Gorakhpur, on an average, ranks 11 in all the three parameters to achieve an overall rank of 3.
In Services, Shrawasti ranks as the most improved district, based on two parameters: services to GDP per capita and percentage of workers employed in services. Shrawasti is followed by Basti and Sant Kabir Nagar. These districts are the top three most improved districts in services to GDP per capita ratio as well.
In Health, Kaushambi leads as the most improved district. It improved the most in the percentage of children aged 12-23 months having an immunisation card, rising from 8.2 per cent in 2001 to 68 per cent in 2011. On other parameters, it ranks outside the top 15 most improved districts. Moradabad district is ranked 2. Hardoi, ranked the third most improved district, performs well on three of the four categories, but fails to raise its game in awareness of the dangers of acute respiratory infection/pneumonia among women (rank 44).
In Governance, or law and order, Ambedkar Nagar performs moderately well on all the four parameters to race to the top spot, with rank 14 in the incidence of total cognisable IPC crimes, rank 14 in the incidence of murders, rank 15 in incidence of rape and rank 5 in the incidence of kidnapping and abduction. It is followed by Lucknow and Bareilly. Lucknow, though ranked second, is better in terms of lower incidence of violent crimes. Incidentally, Ambedkar Nagar is surrounded by districts that saw a marginal improvement in the law and order situation.
In Overall Most Improved District, Fatehpur tops the list, followed by Shrawasti and Auraiya. Fatehpur’s rankings: education, rank 12; infrastructure, 19; agriculture, 17; law and order, 48; water and sanitation, 2; prosperity, 31; industry, 1; services, 27; health, 17. Except law and order, where it ranks a dismal 48, the district performs better than the median.
The India today State of the State survey reveals how West UP has surged while East UP has stagnated. The most interesting question: why? West UP prospered in agriculture because of the success of the Green Revolution in the wheat- and sugarcane-growing areas. East UP’s rice-growing belt could not reap the benefit of the Green Revolution. West UP’s proximity to Delhi helped the growth of industry and services in the region. Noida-led Gautam Buddh Nagar bags four district awards partly because it is the suburb of Delhi. In contrast, East UP, closer to Bihar, suffered.
On the positive side, the survey shows that Deoria, Fatehpur and Shrawasti in East UP are catching up fast. The yawning gap between the two regions must be tackled on a war footing by the next government in Lucknow, regardless of who wins the 2017 assembly elections. Otherwise, the only alternative could be bifurcation of the state. Priority must be given to industry, agriculture, education, law and order and jobs if Uttar Pradesh aims to become Ummeedon ka Pradesh.
The main purpose of the State of the State study of Uttar Pradesh is to figure out the broad trends and patterns of economic development in the most populous state and determine a district-wise ranking of performance. The evaluation has been done under two broad segments-best performing district at a particular point of time and most improved district over time (say, the last decade). The data was collected by research agency Nielsen from various well-known sources, such as the Census, National Sample Survey and others, and standardised so that the comparison across districts becomes meaningful. The ranking of the districts was done by the Borda method, in which voters rank options or candidates in order of preference. The study selected 10 categories, each a composite index of parameters for which uniform and continuous data was available. The ranking varies based on the category considered-a higher concentration of households with electricity gets a higher rank; a higher incidence of crime will get a lower rank. After ranking, the top districts are identified. The most recent year is used to rank the best district; the difference between the most recent category value and value 10 years prior is used to rank the most improved district.