A woman sits eating chapatis and dal in the village of Lar Sauryana in Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)  

In Charts: From Rapes To Infant Deaths, There’s A Lot To Fix In Madhya Pradesh

The economy of Madhya Pradesh, going to polls next week, has grown faster than the national average riding on its farms and mines under the Bharatiya Janata Party government.

The central Indian state, governed by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government for 13 years, is among India’s top five fastest-growing states.

Minerals contributed to the rise. Madhya Pradesh is one of the largest producers of limestone, marble and coal and is home to India’s only diamond mine.

Natural resources added to the economic boom driven by bumper harvests. But the state now faces a farm distress. It also battling a jobs crisis and has one of the highest crime rates in India.

Here’s an overview of the issues plaguing Madhya Pradesh:

No Place For Law And Order?

Madhya Pradesh has the highest crime rate in India after Delhi and Kerala, accounting for nearly a tenth of the total reported crimes.

But it’s not just the adults. The underage, too, are involved in petty-to-serious criminal activities. Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of juvenile crimes in the country.

Even the total number of cognisable juvenile crimes in Madhya Pradesh is higher than every other state, with Maharashtra coming a close second.

It’s Worse For Women

The situation is more grave for women in Madhya Pradesh, which reported the highest number of sexual assaults in the country. In 2016 alone, for every one lakh population in the state, over 13 women were raped. That, among heavily populated regions, puts it only second to Delhi.

Between February 2016 and February 2017, one woman was raped every two hours in Madhya Pradesh, Hindustan Times reported citing data presented in the state Parliament.

That’s not all. Madhya Pradesh also has the highest rate of sexual harassment cases after Uttar Pradesh.

Farm Crisis

Agricultural growth has been the pillar of Madhya Pradesh’s rise. Almost 70 percent of its workforce is employed in the farm sector.

The state won the Krishi Karman Award for best crop production in the country for five straight years up to 2016. Its agricultural growth averaged 9.6 percent a year between 2005 and 2016 compared with a national average of just 3.2 percent.

The state government set up irrigation projects, infrastructure for procurement of wheat and diversified into horticulture to achieve this growth.

Yet, farmers remain distressed. The state ranks third in the number of farmer suicides as of 2016, according to latest data presented in the Lok Sabha. Between 2011 and 2016, when Madhya Pradesh was being awarded the Krishi Karman Awards, over 6,000 farmers killed themselves.

Farmer suicides in the state have been rising at a time its on a decline elsewhere in the country.

Higher production has been negated by the drop in prices of commodities like wheat and soy meal. “The mood of farmers in MP is sombre due to a continued depression of market prices, coupled with a shortage of rainfall in several districts in the eastern parts of the state,” former Agriculture Secretary Siraj Hussain wrote in an opinion column for BloombergQuint.

Political parties continue to promise to waive farm loans, irrespective of the cost on the banking system and the wider economy. A lack of investment in infrastructure and frequent restrictions on stocking, trade, and exports do not seem to attract their attention.
Siraj Hussain, Former Agriculture Secretary

Income levels improved in the state since Chouhan came to power in 2005, but it remains well below the national average. Madhya Pradesh managed to move up only three places in the last 13 years to be the sixth poorest state in the country in 2016-17. The state’s per capita income was 56 percent lower than the national average in the last financial year.

Dismal Job Creation

Chouhan’s government failed to create jobs. In its 13 years till 2017, on an average 17,600 jobs were created every year, newswire PTI reported citing a Parliamentary response by the government.

To put that in perspective, 14.11 lakh people in Madhya Pradesh were looking for jobs in 2016 through the state’s employment centre, according to the state’s Economic Survey. Of these, 11.24 lakh people were educated and jobless.

Only 129 persons were able to get jobs in 2016.

In 2015 too, only 334 of the 15.6 lakh people looking for jobs got employment through government centres.

Child Deaths

More infants die in Madhya Pradesh per 1,000 births than in any other Indian state. And the same holds true for children under five years of age.

The state made efforts to improve the situation. When Chouhan’s government came to power, the state’s infant mortality rate was 70 deaths per thousand births. But clearly, that isn’t enough.

At 51 deaths for every 1,000 births in 2015-16, Madhya Pradesh’s infant mortality rate is comparable with that of Ghana, North Korea and over double than that of war-torn Syria.

This also stems from the lack of specialists like pediatricians and gynaecologists at the state’s public health centres. In 2015, Madhya Pradesh’s public health centres had a 80 percent shortfall of specialist doctors.