winds of change-part I-growth & social justice-ch 1-11

Unless we know what is the minimum income that we are planning to ensure to every individual, to talk in terms of maximum as merely a multiple of the minimum would be meaningless. If, for example, at the lower end there are a large number of unemployed persons or persons with extremely low incomes, it would be little satisfaction to ensure that the highest incomes are also small. What should, therefore, be of more relevance is to define the minimum level of income, wealth and standard of living for which we will have to strive. Again the multiple and the expectations in regard to minimum requirements would themselves undergo changes over a period. This then brings us back to the question of a proper framework for rapid economic growth. The fact of the matter is that whether we start with growth or with social justice, we have to end up with policies which encompass both, for neither is possible without the other.

While thinking of larger goals of economic policy, our immediate concern will have to be growth and production. Unless the size of national income itself increases, the effort to ensure a minimum standard of living to every individual will necessarily be frustrated. It is in this sense that mere talk of levelling of incomes would be futile and infructuous. The concern for rapid growth and higher production itself would imply that adequate incentives for work, saving and investment are ensured. But it will be wrong to think in terms of incentives for the well-to-do and the affluent only. In a country like ours, with its gigantic and intricate problems of development, the process of planning will have to be spread over several years — may be decades — and, therefore, incentive for millions of poor people to work, save, invest and undergo sacrifices and sufferings are as much relevant -- and indeed more relevant — than those for a few well-to-do persons in the society. Resource mobilisation will remain our prime concern for several years and this will be increasingly difficult if glaring disparities in the society continue. It is, therefore, imperative that incentives for all sections of society are given due weightage. The large section of middle classes will also have to be called upon to share in the privations and difficulties in the period of growth. No amount of sacrifices by only the lowest and highest range of society can enable us to break the vicious circle of low incomes, low savings, low investment and low productivity.