ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Enabling the Mythology of the Gujarat Model of Developmen:Elites in Ahmedabad


Tejani Sheba - King's College London, International Development, London, United Kingdom


41 – Managerialism and the Transformation of Indian Capitalism in the Mid-Twentieth Century: The Experience of Ahmedabad


 The epithet of the Gujarat model of development was invented in the mid to late 2000s to showcase Narendra Modi’s developmental achievements during his long tenure as chief minister of Gujarat. It was positioned as a model that delivered high economic growth because it was pro-business, market friendly, and championed privatization with an overall stance of minimal government. The Gujarat model provides an apposite moment to understand the ideological and discursive work that development has performed for the cause of Hindu supremacy in India. The paper focuses on how upper-middle classes in India in enabled and legitimized the mythology of development in Gujarat. Based on field work conducted in Ahmedabad with urban upper classes between 2014-19, it shows how elites created and upheld stories about the Gujarat model, acting as witnesses for its veracity, and providing proof of its existence. With their disproportionate influence in the public sphere, such testimony was critical in establishing the credibility and legitimacy of the Gujarat model. Elites were able to align themselves with the claimed modernizing and progress-oriented aspects of the Gujarat model without the discomfort of supporting ethnic cleansing, reconstruct their identity around an idea of development and retain their self-image as liberals. The Gujarat model worked as a trope to rehabilitate Hindutva as a project of progress and governance after the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002.