Is Karnataka the Right Model?


The Indian Express article “The Karnataka model”, published March 8, 2018, written by Christophe Jaffrelot and Kalaiyarasan A., appears to be a rather vague attempt at pegging Karnataka against Gujarat on development of marginalised sections of society.

First, the states of Karnataka and Gujarat are very different in terms of caste diversity and demographics. Therefore, comparing two states that are socio-culturally so different on the basis of development of certain communities alone may be a wrong indicator for growth.

A better and more holistic way of looking at the development parameters would be by looking at the entire population, considering the fact that these are two dissimilar states.

The article cherry-picks its points to project Karnataka in a good light, while Gujarat fares far better than Karnataka on several social and human development indicators. Let us go through some figures to get an idea of how Karnataka is faring, and whether it can even be compared to Gujarat, let alone replacing its model of development.

Unemployment & Poverty

The article does not engage with the overall human development and growth indicators in the two states, which would offer a better and fuller picture. If we look at the unemployment rate in the table below, Gujarat registered the lowest rate in India at 9/1,000 of population, which is much better than Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka at 125, 42 and 15, respectively.

Karnataka model


Let us next see how Karnataka and Gujarat have historically performed in uplifting their poor:

Karnataka 3

Source: Handbook of Statistics on Indian States


According to the RBI’s Handbook of Statistics on Indian States 2016-17 published in June 2017, the last data set pertaining to 2011-12 shows the following: 16.63% of the population of Gujarat was below the poverty line, while the same was 20.91% in Karnataka, which shows how Gujarat has been faring better in terms of uplifting its poor as a whole.

If Karnataka has not fared better than Gujarat in uplifting its poor or on employment, what development of various communities are the writers talking about?

Crimes Against SCs/STs

If we look at the NCRB’s “Crime in India 2016” figures, Gujarat has 1,322 cases of atrocities against SCs, while Karnataka has 1,869 such cases. The number of such cases against STs was 281 in Gujarat, while it was 374 in Karnataka.

STATE Atrocities Against SCs Atrocities Against STs
Gujarat 1,322 cases 281 cases
Karnataka 1,869 cases 374 cases

Source: NCRB Crime in India 2016


If Karnataka has a higher incidence of crimes against SCs and STs, how can the writers weave a narrative of better social harmony in the state of Karnataka?

Farmer Suicides

Let us look at the following graph which uses NCRB data:

karnataka model 3


We can clearly see that the number of farmers committing suicide is way higher in Karnataka than in Gujarat. This speaks volumes about the model of development being followed in Karnataka and raises questions over its complete inability at handling the issues of farmers.

Crimes Against Women

Once more, if we check the Crime in India 2016 figures, we find that pertaining to crimes against women, Gujarat had 8,532 cases, while Karnataka had 14,131 cases.


karnataka model 4

Source: NCRB Crime in India 2016


If we look at the above figures, Gujarat had 8,532 cases of crimes against women, while Karnataka had 14,131 such cases. The rate of total cognisable crimes was 28.7 in Gujarat, while it was a whopping 45.8 in Karnataka.

While Gujarat ranked at 27 on the basis of crime rate — and is one of the safest places for women in India — Karnataka presents an altogether different picture indeed.


Something then must be seriously wrong with the writers’ attempt at projecting Karnataka as a model state which should be emulated and the model replicated. We can draw this conclusion from what we have seen above about the indicators from Karnataka.


On Karnataka and Gujarat, please read our earlier articles as well:
The Karnataka Development Controversy
On Gujarat Model: A Response to Christophe Jaffrelot and ‘The Indian Express’
State Spotlight 2017: The Gujarat Story

  • Gulabkulfi

    Excellent write-up.