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SC & Rajan Report: REVISITING DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM, By Dhurjati Mukherjee, 3 October, 2013 Print E-mail

Events & Issues

3 October 2013, New Delhi     

SC & Rajan Report


By Dhurjati Mukherjee


The Supreme Court recently delivered a momentous judgement which stated that faster economic growth could not be the sole criterion for determining the legality of ban on illegal mining activities in Goa. The bench of Justices AK Patnaik, S S Nijjar and FM I Kalifulla expressed dissatisfaction that the media was concerned only with the GDP growth without constitutional principles. What they did not specify but definitely implied was the impact of such illegal mining of iron ore on the environment and also whether this benefitted, in any way, the impoverished sections of society. 


The apex court referred to Directive Principles chapter IV of the Constitution and focused on Article 38 which asks the Government to remove inequalities among citizens and Article 39 which provides for a slew of welfare principles, including “operation of the economic system that does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment”, as guiding principles of governance. But unfortunately the Government has all along turned a blind eye to illegal and harmful mining activities being carried out in various parts of the country that have gone against the greater interests of society.


This sort of growth cannot, in any way, be considered real development. Growth or development has to be seen from the perspective of things/activities that are aimed at the welfare of the people in general; not just a group of people who make money through illegal deals. Moreover, the question of export of natural resources like iron ore, bauxite and coal needs to be examined by an expert committee in the light of the country’s own requirements in the coming 10/20 years.


The other question is the impact on environment and the people living in and around where mining activities take place. Most of the companies involved in mining do not take adequate measures to ensure that the health of these poor people is not jeopardized. The standards fixed by the Environment Ministry are not adhered to and there is no agency to check this and even if the concerned State Government officials visit the site, they are reportedly bribed along with their political masters.


It is an erroneous notion that only activities related to industry, mining etc can boost development, specially for a country like India, where over 65 per cent of the population lives in the countryside and needs to join the mainstream of life and activity. Thus rural infrastructure development has to be the key focus through better education, health, communication, power facilities etc to uplift the conditions of the rural population.


It would be pertinent in this context to understand the dimension and focus of development as outlined in the Raghuram Rajan (then Chief Economic Adviser) committee report which has negated the widely acclaimed ‘Gujarat model’ and ranked the State 12th among others in the development index. Only industrial development and fast growth rate do not necessarily mean development, as has been the case of Gujarat. According to well-known economist and Planning Commission member, Abhijit Sen, if one looks at HDI data from Gujarat, there is large difference between the levels of development of tribals and non-tribals and between those of urban and rural people. “When the State level average is worked out, the overall score (of Gujarat) would fall short of those of several other States, he stated.


This Committee for Evolving Corporate Development Index of States has rightly given sufficient weightage to human development factors, specially per capita consumption expenditure, education, health, poverty ratio etc. It is an accepted fact that growth will not automatically trickle down to the poor for whom sustainable development is very important. Thus a pro-poor development strategy has to be embedded in the growth approach. 


Gujarat and many of the so-called industrially advanced States need to model their future growth in such a manner that tribals, dalits, backward classes and poor are able to prosper with growth in GDP. Only income being added to the rich and the upper middle class is no indicator of development and this imbalance may result in social problems of varied nature.


The committee report will go a long way in gearing up the process of development as henceforth the less developed States would get larger allocation of funds from the Centre based on the need criteria. For example, under the new multi-dimensional index fixed by the report, Odisha, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, which are the Most Backward States of the country, would be eligible for rapid economic development with more resources.   


The development paradigm needs to be properly understood in planning our future growth strategy so that all sections of society benefit. Only privatization cannot be considered a panacea to development as the Supreme Court rightly pointed out. Privatization in the country may have increased efficiency in some sectors but in the process the poor and the impoverished sections have suffered. Of course, it cannot be denied that some of the recent steps by the present Government such as the Land Acquisition Act, the Food Security Act have been in the right direction whereby there the needs and demands of the poor and the economically weaker sections are expected to be protected.


There has to be a change in outlook towards the whole issue of development and it has to be viewed from a pragmatic and judicious standpoint. Political will and a sincere approach are very much necessary at this juncture. The priority in the new outlook would have to be the common man, whose benefits need to be kept in mind while also not neglecting the economic growth perspective. 


The question that obviously engages our mind is that will the desired change come about? One needs to be optimistic on this count as there are enough indications of a transformation in outlook occurring in the minds of political leaders – at least some of them -- activists, economists and a larger section of society. If the young generation gets the leadership of the political parties, there is hope of a perceptible change in the developmental policies of the Government – both at the Centre and in at least some of the States.  


However, one thing is certain that the poor and the backward sections – the tribals, dalits and other such communities – cannot be neglected for long as this will have more serious consequences both on the social and economic front. There has to be developmental growth – more businesses by the people, for the people and of the people. The vision for the future should be based on Gandhiji’s charkha, which symbolized that people would be earners and owners of their own enterprise – the new meaning of inclusive democratic capitalism. ---INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)


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