With a population of 60 million, representing five per cent of India’s population, Gujarat in western India has evolved from an ancient shipping power to a modern-day industrial state. It has the longest coastline of 1,600 km, and shares borders with Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, as well as an international border with Pakistan.
Gujarat’s economic development has often been acclaimed as being a highly effective growth and private sector-driven model. In fact, the average growth rate of GDP in Gujarat over the past two decades has been higher than the national average, and more balanced than the other high growth-rate states. This is primarily because of improved performance across sectors, especially that of agriculture and industry.
However, in terms of overall social development, Gujarat has many more miles to cover to ensure that its economic growth translates into improved and sustainable human development. Although there has been significant improvement in terms of health and education infrastructure over the years, the challenge remains to further improvethe access to these basic services to bycommunities in remote and marginalized rural areas.
In the sphere of social development, one of the main challenges faced by Gujarat is the high prevalence of child under-nutrition, coupled with a slow reduction in the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR). These challenges have drawn the necessary attention of the State Government and form a critical partnership area for UNICEF.