How Modi made Gujarat flourish with funds from Delhi
From the rooftop of his two-storeyed house, Rajendra Sinh Vaghela, a farmer, points to all the pucca houses that have come up in the village of Bol since the state industrial agency bought land from the farmers in 2010.
He rattles off the names of all the factories - Colgate, Hitachi Hi-Rel, Ford - that surround the village. His elder son, who is 21, has just woken up at midday after having worked a late shift at a vendor plant that supplies gearboxes for the Nano.
Vaghela and his brother sold 40 bighas of land where the Ford factory now sits. The government paid them Rs 28.56 lakh a bigha, making them crorepatis overnight.
But, Vaghela alternately revels in the new wealth and feels burdened by it. "We had never operated a bank account," he says.
All the money is Gandhi log ka baap ka hain... Delhiwale diya o paisa
The day before I visited Sanand, the Indian Express quoted an engineer in Gujarat State Electricity Corporation crediting the funds from the central government's Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana for the achievement of rural electrification.
Indeed, Gujarat's success in the past decade is because it has taken the money the centre is disbursing and adroitly made economic (and political) capital of it.
More baap ka maal
A businessman and long-term resident of Vadodara, TNC Rajagopalan, says that the Modi government has benefited from the large transfer of funds from the central government in the past decade on everything from highways and rural road projects to urban renewal and rural electrification.
Gujarat's agriculture in the past several years has also seen a huge boost from the wide availability of water as a result of the Sardar Sarovar dam project.
Driving from Ahmedabad to Vadodara through lush fields and the occasional banana plantations feels almost akin to a journey through Kerala.
"Modi has been lucky but you can't deny him the credit," says Rajagopalan. "He made a success (of disbursements from the centre) and others didn't."
A senior civil servant in the state administration says that Gujarat's success in acquiring large tracts of land in places like Sanand is because it pays the market price and involves state regulators from the very beginning.
"A regulator comes to the meetings and says, 'This is possible, this is not possible.' My experience is that investors like that," he says.
"Government here is quite egalitarian - by which I mean there is greater accessibility to the public and to business."
He points to the state's ability to partner with countries like Japan - whose external trade agency has a local office - and Canada at one level while pushing civil servants to meet farmers and educationists in an outreach in districts that lasts for three days every year at another.
Vyas, who has worked with Modi since 1991 and is a member of the state finance commission, says a key part of Modi's modus operandi is to prevent MLAs and their flunkeys from harassing officials.
Modi's other principal strength is an ability to run efficient meetings. "In meetings, he will ignore digressions altogether. I have never seen a more focused person," Vyas says.
When Modi led the Bharatiya Janata Party assembly poll campaign in the '90s, Vyas recalls that Modi spoke to each of the candidates between 5 am and 8 am every morning.
A partiality for overly large industrial estates with reliable electricity and roads, an ability to run a profitable public sector and a disregard for human rights concerns and media criticism mark Modi as being more in the mould of Chinese leaders.
When the industrial corridor between Delhi and Mumbai was first being discussed, Modi was the lone chief minister who reportedly asked Amitabh Kant, who was then heading the project, whether Gujarat could offer more land.
But, land acquisition in Gujarat is now proving more problematic as the state is caught between the claws of higher expectations of land prices from farmers and their unwillingness to part with fertile fields and industry's belief that the price the Gujarat government charges for land in industrial estates is too high.
Last August, the state government had to massively reduce the size of the investment region in Mandal Becharaji in Mehsana to a fifth of its original size of 50,000 hectares after the majority of the 44 village bodies in the area opposed the plan.
In an investment region in Dholera, memoranda of understanding were signed with companies three years ago, but the project is still stuck at the land acquisition stage.
As in China where the west has struggled while coastal regions boomed, Gujarat too has witnessed uneven development, particularly in central and south Gujarat where tribals live.
In Ahmedabad, it is hard not to be shocked by the number of adivasis living a destitute existence on the street, having sought to flee their high indebtedness in the countryside for a supposedly better existence in the city.
"The adivasis in Gujarat are still very undernourished," says Yoginder Alagh, a former union minister in the Deve Gowda government in the '90s and agricultural economist.
Alagh says the poverty rate among tribals in Gujarat is higher than that in states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.