In 2008, frustrated by the agitation against forcible land acquisition, Tata Motors announced it would exit West Bengal. The company chose to move its Nano car plant to Gujarat. The then chief minister Modi claimed that he made Tata’s entry hassle free, inviting Ratan Tata with an SMS.

The incident underlined the gap between Bengal and Gujarat. Both states lie at the two ends of India’s industrialisation scale. As a result, Gujarat has a per capita net domestic product nearly twice that of Bengal.

Paradoxically, however, this great industrial wealth translates quite poorly into human development. The latest confirmation of this comes from the newly released National Family Health Survey data which shows that Bengali children are significantly healthier than their Gujarati counterparts.

The NFHS covers more than 4 lakh households and offers the most comprehensive picture of India’s health statistics.

To further underline this trend is the fact the gap has widened over two decades. Between 1994 and 1996, Gujarat’s infant mortality rate was 63 per 1,000 births and Bengal’s was 58. This difference of five widened to one of more than nine in 2020.

Thus, paradoxically even as Gujarat had grown significantly richer than Bengal in two decades, Bengali children are also much more healthier than Gujarati...

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