Economic power that hides disparities

The gross district domestic product of the five districts that form Amravati region (Rs 51,947 crore), a part of backward Vidarbha, was Maharashtra’s lowest in 2013-14; yet it was more than Jammu and Kashmir (Rs 45,847 crore) in the same year. 

The GDP of Marathwada (Rs 83,765 crore), a region of eight drought-prone districts, in 2013-’14 was more than Uttarakhand (Rs 70,926 crore).

With such powerful regional economies – even in its backward areas – Maharashtra is India’s most prosperous state with a gross state domestic product of $148.2 billion (at constant 2004-’05 prices), almost equal to that of Pakistan ($150 billion at constant 2005 prices).

Yet, Maharashtra’s overall economic power hides vast disparities. It has some of India’s poorest people, four of its 36 districts are among India’s 106 most backward, and some districts, such as rural Thane on the doorstep of rich Mumbai, have areas where 30 percent (in 2009, the last available data) children suffer malnutrition, comparable with Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura (2009 data).

So, an old debate over dividing Maharashtra – India’s second most populous state with a population of 112 million – was re-energised last week when senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader MG Vaidya said division would make the state more governable.

Vaidya supported former Maharashtra Advocate General Shrihari Aney, who suggested that the people of Marathwada should get their own state. For those comments, Aney was asked to quit by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Konkan’s economy would be fourth, Marathwada 22nd among states

If we arrange the five regions of Maharashtra – Konkan, Pune, Nashik, Marathwada, and Vidarbha – along with 28 remaining states of India, Konkan region would rank fourth in the list.

Our report of the state’s five regions, ranked by prosperity:

Konkan Region
Area: 30,746 sq km; six districts (Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, and Palghar)
Population: 28.6 million. If it were a state, it would rank 15 (of 28 states) by population, with more people than – among others – Punjab, Haryana, Chattisgarh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
Gross Domestic Product: Rs 373,959 crore ($61.8 billion), accounts for 41 percent of Maharashtra’s GSDP.

As a state, Konkan would be richer than West Bengal, Telangana, and Rajasthan and rank alongside countries like Cuba and have a GDP more than neighbouring Sri Lanka.

Profile: The Konkan region, along the western coast, is Maharashtra’s most populous and prosperous region. The region’s capital, Mumbai – home to India’s financial, banking, and entertainment industries – is the state’s richest district. Neighbouring Thane district has one of India’s highest per capita incomes. The region is known for its Alphonso mangoes and coastal fisheries.

Area: 97,321 sq km; 11 districts across two regions – Amravati (Buldhana, Akola, Washim, Amravati and Yavatmal districts) and Nagpur (Wardha, Nagpur, Bhandara, Gondia, Chandrapur, and Gadchiroli)
Population: 23 million. If it were a state, it would rank 18 (of 28 states) by population, with more people than—among others—Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.
GDP: Rs 132,750 crore ($21.9 billion), accounts for 14.8 percent of Maharashtra’s GSDP.

As a state, Vidarbha would be poorer than Odisha and Punjab and rank alongside Cameroon, Serbia, and Tanzania.

Profile: Maharashtra’s eastern region achieved national infamy for suicides, mostly by cotton farmers. Formerly the princely state of Berar, Vidarbha is largely agrarian, with cotton, jowar, soybean and pulses its main farm output. Yavatmal, Gadchiroli, and Chandrapur are among India’s most backward districts, large swathes of areas riven by Maoist insurgency.

Nashik Region
Area: 57,806 sq km; five districts (Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, and Ahmednagar)
Population: 18.5 million. If it were a state, it would rank 19 (of 28 states), with more people than the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir.
GDP: Rs 104,594 crore ($15.7 billion), accounts for 11.6 percent of Maharashtra’s GSDP.

As a state, Nashik region would be equivalent to Jharkhand but poorer than Chhattisgarh and rank alongside Botswana and Bolivia.

Profile: Nashik Region is known for its agro-processing industries, especially wine. Of 46 wineries in India, 43 are in Maharashtra with 22 of them around Nashik, the main city of Nashik region.

Pune Region
Area: 57,054 sq km; five districts (Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur, and Kolhapur)
Population: 23.4 million. If it were a state, it would rank 18 (of 28 states) with more people than Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

GDDP: Rs 201,700 crore ($33.3 billion), accounts for 22.4 percent of Maharashtra’s GSDP.

As a state, Pune Region would be poorer than the new state of Telangana and Kerala, and would rank alongside Lebanon and Bulgaria.

Profile: The region is known as the sugar belt of Maharashtra; it is the second-largest producer of sugarcane in India and hosts the country’s second-largest sugar-processing capacity.

Area: 64,590 sq km; eight districts (Aurangabad, Jalna, Parbhani, Hingoli, Beed, Nanded, Osmanabad, and Latur)
Population: 18.7 million. If it were a state, it would rank 18 (of 28 states), with more people than Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.
GDDP: Rs 83,765 crore ($13.8 billion), accounts for 9.3 percent of Maharashtra’s GSDP.

As a state, Marathwada would be poorer than Chhattisgarh and Assam, and would rank alongside Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Paraguay.

Profile: The region is known for its drought, falling as it does in the rain-shadow area of Maharashtra. It is the most underdeveloped area in the state after Vidarbha. Marathwada also has the second-highest number of farmer suicides after Vidarbha.

Why smaller states do better
Smaller states do better than bigger states, IndiaSpend reported previously, analysing the progress of breakaway states.

Carving out smaller states from larger states help better governance because it allows “de-averaging” both the problem and solution, which means allowing administrators to get a true picture of regions instead of an average that hides problems, Nikhil Ojha of Bain and Co, a consultancy, wrote in this Mint column.

For instance, Uttarakhand was among India’s top six relatively developed states; its parent state, Uttar Pradesh, among India’s least developed, according to a 2013 panel report, by Raghuram Rajan, now Reserve Bank of India Governor.

Odisha topped as the least developed state, followed by Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Goa was the most relatively developed state, followed by Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Note: All population figures are from the 2011 census. The GDP figures are for 2013-’14, the base year for all economic comparisons. 

(In an arrangement with, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend.)
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