winds of change-part I-growth & social justice-ch 1-9

But the logic of such a measure is indisputable. The economic policies and programmes for the seventies will have to accept and take note of these socio-political compulsions.

Another area which will require serious thought is that of maintaining price stability. Increase in prices leading to increase in wages and incomes which in turn accentuates the pressure on prices is a phenomenon which is not uncommon in a developing country. In an economy in which agriculture is a dominant sector, any substantial variation in the production of food and commercial crops can have wide ranging effects on the other sectors of the economy. We have certainly achieved a break­through in respect of food production and can legitimately be proud of the achievements in this field. However, the same cannot be said in respect of production of commercial crops. Some concerted action will be necessary to achieve a rapid increase in the yield per acre of commercial crops. Coming back to the question of price increase, it will have to be realised that a certain degree of rise in prices is inevitable in any process of growth. In fact, a small increase in prices can constitute an incentive for further production and investment. But any persistent and large rise in prices is bound to cause considerable hardship and misery, especially to the low income and fixed income groups. Inflation also accentuates inequalities in the society and results in doing away with the motivation to work, save and invest. The plan priorities get distorted. The competitiveness in the inter­national market is seriously retarded and exports are badly affected. The disparities in income are further sharpened and new tensions and restlessness come to the surface. Any inflationary rise in prices thus impairs the whole climate for a planned effort. Growth with stability will have, therefore. to be an important objective in the coming years.

It is sometimes asked whether it is not dangerous to stir up consciously the question of social justice or of distribution of income and wealth. There are people who think that if only politicians did not talk of distributional justice and concentrated instead on problems of growth, all would be well, as ordinary people are only interested in bettering their lot and not in some abstract concept of social justice. I am afraid this is wishful thinking, because ordinary people everywhere and at all times are concerned about their absolute well-being as well as their relative position in society. Even in advanced industrial countries today there is the persistent problem of inflation, and we hear talk of an appropriate prices, wages and incomes policy to hold inflation in check.