winds of change-part I-growth & social justice-ch 1



1. The Economic Strategy for the Seventies

THE PROCESS OF achieving economic development is indeed similar to that of fighting a war in more aspects than one. The war we are waging against poverty, disease, illiteracy and misery is no less arduous and hard than a war in the conventional sense of the term. In fact, it is much more complex and will require an even greater degree of perseverance, hard work, toil and sweat. There is also another real and meaningful similarity between the two. The war against poverty will call for sustained effort, mass participation and a popular fervour. To be successful in this war, there must be a sense of national honour and pride and a bold and imaginative approach.

It is necessary to think in terms of strategies for the various facets of the national life. In the ultimate analysis, there is a real, close and intimate inter-dependence between them. It is my firm belief that these strategies have to be inter-related so as to be effective and we have to recognise their essential inter-dependence. In economic theory there is a concept of "economic man" to whom questions can be asked as to how he would behave in any given situation. The concept implies that the reactions of such an economic man would necessarily be purely rational and based entirely on economic motivations. I do not know if some one would like to think in terms of the concept of a "political man" who would answer all questions from the political angle alone. When we talk of a strategy for a decade for a whole nation with intricate and complex problems of development and poverty, we have to think in a more integrated manner. One cannot, therefore, lose sight of this real inter-dependence between the economic, social and political life of the country. In economic planning, we often talk of inter-industry and inter-sectoral analysis and there is always an effort to maintain a balance to ensure that there is no lopsided development of one sector or industry at the cost of the other. I think the same concept can be extended when we think of the human problems in the life of a nation. To be effective, the strategy will have to be continuously reviewed, re-modelled and reshaped in the light of what is happening in the economic as well as the political and social life of the country. Just as one cannot spell out a strategy for a war at its outset and stick to it at any cost, similarly one cannot spell out a strategy for the war on poverty and refuse to see what is happening around. If we do not take an integrated view, we might win a battle in one sector of the economy but are certain to lose the war on poverty.