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English fortnightly, devoted to life, literature and culture.

Vol: 17  No: 01


09 August 1970

Privatise, Or Decay

J.R.D. Tata

The most tragic aspect of India’s economic life is the slow repudiation, in the name of socialism, of a wisely chosen policy of mixed economy as the pattern for industrial development, bewails Shri J.R.D. Tata.
Today, the reputation and image of private enterprise is far from being commensurate with its massive contribution to India’s industrial and economic development during the last half century. To those who believe in private enterprise and are anxious to work for the economic revival of our country, such a state of affairs is of serious and deep concern and frustration. A more serious consequence, however, is that as a result of the suspicion and hostility which this poor image of the Private Sector has generated in the minds of Government and Parliament, it is being increasingly denied the opportunities to play the full part of which it is capable, along with the Public Sector, in developing the country’s economy.
As a result, many sound projects of importance put forward by honest, competent and resourceful companies are being frustrated to the detriment of the economic development .
We stand today on the threshold of the second development decade, in which Indian industry in both sectors will face a most challenging and difficult task. It is clear that if the present situation persists into the seventies and we are subjected to even greater restraints than we are today, it will be impossible for us to meet this great national challenge.
The sixties’ decade has been a disappointing one. India will have failed by a wide margin to achieve the target 5% rate of growth set before her and 67 other developing countries by the U.N. Most disappointing of all will be the fact that our per capita income will have increased by less than 1% per year and continues to be perhaps the lowest in the world.
The decade was by no means one of unmitigated failure and was marked by some significant achievements. Perhaps the happiest event of the sixties was the beginning of the Green Revolution, and the consequent failure of the prediction by some world experts that famine would grip India in the seventies.

Except, unfortunately, in regard to road building, considerable additions to our infrastructure were made and will have trebled our power generating capacity and our shipping tonnage. By the end of next year, 70,000 villages will be electrified. Here I would like to pay tribute to Tamil Nadu which has been a pioneer state in bringing light into the darkness which brooded over our countryside . After some ups and downs we made striking gains in our exports, particularly non-traditional, as well as import substitution, which helped our foreign exchange resources to climb back from a low of $525 million to nearly $ 900 million.
I suggested in Delhi, the other day, a massive countrywide road building programme as part of an integrated rural works programme.
I have estimated that a road programme which would give direct employment to a million men and women and to another 11/2 to 2 million through its multiplier effects would cost about Rs. 250 crores per annum. Considering the contribution of around Rs. 600 crores a year which the road transport industry makes to the public exchequer, financing such a programme should not be difficult. But even if the cost were to be met by deficit financing, it would only increase by half a per cent the present rate of deficit financing of about 1% of the national income.
One of the most difficult problems we shall continue to face in a greatly aggravated form in the next decade will be that of the migration of millions of people from the countryside to the cities, leading to even bigger and worse slums and squatters’ colonies than those we have in our larger cities today.
The Pearrson Commission in its report has singled out India as the worst example of this phenomenon and have said: “If the present trends continue, the largest cities in India will have over 35 million inhabitants by the year 2,000”.
This grievous problem will require heroic solutions and vast amounts of money.
Industry will have to face many specific problems of its own, including those of raising adequate finance and foreign exchange, minimising the frightful delays from which all projects seem to suffer in our

Bhavan's Journal

09 August 1970

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Language: English
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