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

When we think of the strategy for the seventies, the question naturally arises as to what is so special about the seventies. Some may also ask whether we did not have any strategy for the fifties or for the sixties. To answer these questions, it is necessary to review the achievements of the last two decades. When we fought for independence, it was not merely a struggle for political freedom; it was also a struggle for economic emancipation. A concerted and well-conceived effort in this direction began with the setting up of the planning agency in the country and with the formulation of the First Five Year Plan. We laid varying emphasis on the different facets of our economy during the last three Five Year Plans. Thus, in the First Plan, our accent was on major irrigation projects and the reconstruction of our transport system; in the Second Plan we emphasised basic or heavy industries realising the urgent need for developing a capital goods base; it was also felt that rapid industrialisation and a total transformation of the country would require suitable investment on infrastructure and mother industries. As a result, inevitably, our reliance on foreign aid increased during the Second Plan and we, therefore, emphasised self-reliance, i.e. import substitution in the Third Plan. However, the weakness of agriculture and of exports and the basic need for family planning came sharply into focus in the mid-sixties and we then talked of a strategy of development with accent on agriculture, exports and family planning. In view of the rapid rise in prices in 1966 and 1967, the draft Fourth Plan talked of growth with stability- as the main objective — the term stability relating to price stability.

The progress achieved so far in the various sectors of our economy can be understood fully only when we relate it to the conditions which obtained in the country on the eve of independence. What we inherited from our erstwhile rulers was an economy which had been used up for war production and which, therefore, stood in urgent need of repair and reconstruction. All the major industries like cotton textiles, jute, sugar, and cement were in need of substantial reconstruction. The partition of the country further accentuated the problems, since some of the areas which produced substantial quantities of food and commercial crops went over to Pakistan. The food situation was none too comfortable and we required food under an assistance programme for the first time in 1950. As a result of the austerity which was imposed on the people during the war, there was a tremendous demand for imports of all kinds of consumer goods. At the same time, for want of any basic industry, all types of machinery had to be imported on a large scale. The transport system, particularly the railways, was in need of large-scale rehabilitation.