With a population of around 8 million, the city of Ahmedabad is the largest in India’s western region of Gujarat. While India has long held a reputation for being one of the world’s least developed countries, it has steadily been shifting and is now one of the fastest growing developing countries. Poverty in India is starting to disappear; industry is thriving, literacy rates are increasing and the world community is beginning to see it as a real front-runner. There is no better example of this new shift in development than Ahmedabad.

Census information gathered in 2001 showed a literacy rate of around 79 percent. The next census, gathered in 2011, revealed a great increase, showing that around 85 percent of the population was literate. The first step in decreasing poverty is increasing education. For many years, India has faced issues with its large impoverished communities not allowing their children to attend school because they needed them to work in order to support the family. Now, with increased aid from various NGO’s and family structure organizations, Ahmedabad’s youth have been, for the most part, educated at least to an 8th grade level. This six percent gain is not the only leap that Ahmedabad has made.

When one imagines India, they might picture crowded streets, pollution, over-population, grand temples and the Taj Mahal, which would all suffice to describe it. However, recent census information has shown a 1.55 percent decrease in birthrates. While to some this may seem sad, it is quite the opposite. Many poor families will have upwards of 8 children in an attempt to have as many people working in order to support the family. Often, women are overwhelmed by the pressure to have kids, and with no safe methods of birth control available, many have more than ten in their lifetimes. While supporting 10 kids is hard enough, this amount of children can also be very detrimental to a woman’s health. Many women to die during childbirth. In the past few years, many women’s health organizations have gone to the slums of India to introduce birth control packs and condoms to the people. This decrease in birthrate is also accompanied by a 6 percent decrease in death rates of women during childbirth, as the amount of institutionalized deliveries has increased by 13 percent. While this may seem small, it marks a big change for the city of Ahmedabad and India as a whole.

As India continues to grow, poverty rates in Ahmedabad are decreasing. Occupying a large strip of the coastline, Gujarat is one of the best areas for businesses seeking to work overseas to take root. The business models in Gujarat and Ahmedabad have been described by UNICEF 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 positive increase in GDP is primarily due to the agricultural and business sectors.

For now it looks like poverty is out and development is in for the great city of Ahmedabad, and this is a trend that the global community hopes to see a lot more of in the future.

— Sumita Tellakat

Sources: UNICEF India, Journal of Health Population and Nutrition, Ahmedabad Census 2011
Photo: Flickr