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The Curious State of Indian States!

Size does not matter, neither does location nor provenance! Well that is how performance analysis of Indian states throws up. We boxed all the states in a 2X2 matrix. Gross Value Added (GVA) per head as economic measure and Infant mortality rate as social measure forming the two axes. A state can be said to have performed well only and only if they measure well in both economic and social development. The result do have its own surprising revelation!

There are no perfect measures. We looked at data which RBI makes available in yearly “Handbook of India Statistics”. According to UK government office of National Statistics, ‘GVA per head’ is not necessarily a measure for regional productivity but ‘is a useful way of comparing regions’ (for more click here). GDP or Net State GDP can also be a measure. Click here for an article that illustrates the difference between GVA and GDP.

For social development, we chose Infant Mortality rate as it is a very basic parameter of a developed state. Provided wealth is more equitably distributed, medical and nutritional facility and availability to larger section of the state population is given. Education and awareness also goes hand in hand with significant correlation to effective usage of economic wealth.

Methodology: We sourced the Infant mortality rate from RBI handbook. GVA was also sourced from RBI handbook but to arrive at GVA per head, we sourced population figures from Census 2011. Rest was easy, just rank them after sorting. Rank 1 is best (i.e. highest GVA per head, lowest infant mortality rate). All states were then clubbed into H/M/L on their performance on each of these metrics based on their rank. Top 9 ranks were placed in H, next 9 in M and rest in L. The relative position within H/M/L box is based on absolute value that the states have. That means if a state is placed higher within a box, then it has got better absolute values.

Outcome: Four categories of states based on holistic evaluation on socioeconomic performance.

  1. Star performers (denoted by Star symbol): They are best in both as per data and hence signifies states whose economic development/ performance has also yielded better social development. Precisely, they have done a better job in a more holistic upliftment of their general populace.
  2. Worst performers (denoted by Ambulance Siren): They have failed in both and warrants immediate attention. Akin to critical patients who are ferried by ambulance to nearest hospital.
  3. The beacon holders (denoted by the light bulb): These states despite not in the best of economic condition has done better in addressing social needs/ development with the limited fund/ budget they may have. They will need strong central government support and good governance at state to ensure economic upliftment.
  4. The Confused folks (denoted by Question Mark symbol): These states are those who have failed in equitable distribution and arrest infant mortality rate despite the relatively better economic performance.


  1. Small or big (Sikkim or Maharashtra) both makes to STAR category and so is the case for SIREN category (UP or Meghalaya). There is no East or West, nor North or South, states have got position irrespective of geographical clusters or area.
  2. The best way is to move diagonally from left hand bottom corner box to right hand top corner box. That will signify social development going hand in hand with economic development.
  3. Prima facie, a few states have shown better governance while the ones ‘?/ Question Mark’ seems to have failed to deliver to the ones who needs state support.

Indian States Holistic Performance Appraisal

Key Notes: No measure is perfect and hence such a representation above can also suffer from simplicity bias. Infant mortality can also suffer from social stigma especially w.r.t. female infanticide and that is impacted more by factors other than economic wealth.


GVA Per Head Details for States followed by Infant Mortality Rates

Featured image sourced from https://freerangestock.com/

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