By KUMAR RAKESH
PUBLISHED: 22:14 GMT, 14 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:14 GMT, 14 January 2013
Madhya Pradesh is making giant strides to emerge as one of India’s fastest developing states, and its achievement has been particularly noteworthy in the agriculture sector.
This year, the state has even surpassed India’s “grain bowl” Punjab by taking its food-grain production up by 19 per cent, the biggest jump of any Indian state.
The development will be formally acknowledged on Tuesday when chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will receive the Krishi Karman Award from President Pranab Mukherjee.
Madhya Pradesh produced 19.46 million tonnes of grains in 2011-12, an impressive jump of 19 per cent from its previous best of 16 million tonnes in 2010-11.
And it is to recognise such efforts by states to encourage agriculture that led the Centre to institute the Krishi Karman Awards in 2011 – considering the Indian economy’s heavy dependence on the sector that provides livelihood to close to 66 per cent of families.
Punjab and Uttar Pradesh had together won the honour in 2010-11 and were congratulated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2011.
In the previous list of 10 winner states, four were Congress-ruled – but this year, all states barring Haryana and Manipur, which won the honour among smaller states, are ruled by Opposition parties. The latter seem to be stealing the Congress’ thunder by scripting a turnaround in the agriculture sector.
Chouhan is seen by many in his party as a challenger to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as regards taking up a bigger role in national politics, if he wins a third term in the assembly elections to be held later this year.
Among the other awardees this year, Nitish Kumar-ruled Bihar was the state with the biggest spurt in rice production, totting up 7.2 million tonnes, a 29 per cent growth compared to last year’s figure.
National recognition for Chouhan, a grassroots politician not known for being media-savvy or possessing skills like Modi’s, is sure to give a fillip to his campaign in the election year.
But a strong section in the BJP is known to believe that Chouhan’s model of growth is more suitable to the country than Modi’s, which depends heavily on industrial investment and corporate growth.
Chouhan had dwelt on the increasing appreciation of his calibre at the India Today Conclave in November, 2012, saying: “I was laughed off by peers when I envisioned double digit growth for the state powered by a rise in agriculture production.”
But life has come full circle as the state has achieved agricultural growth of 18 per cent, with the country on a whole stuttering at a sub-five per cent growth.