The emergence of some green shoots is bringing sigh of relief to some who speculate a recovery in the ailing system. These hopeful persons should better know that a real recovery is nowhere in sight. Even some leading experts and institutions are not sure about the nature of recovery whether it would be a V-turn, a U-turn, a L-turn or a Z-turn.
As the world pays tribute to the former Prime Minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru on November 14 on occasion of his 120th birth anniversary, we are reminded of an alternative economic order which once existed in this country the mixed economy of Nehruvian Model within the framework of democratic socialism.
As a builder of modern India, he championed the cause of mixed economy in which the government would manage strategic industries such as mining, electricity and also heavy industries, serving public interest and as a check to aggressive profit-making drive of private enterprises. As a man of vision he envisaged the role of cooperative movement free of political and bureaucratic influences. He believed that the problems of unemployment could be progressively resolved by the development of cottage and small industries.
The continuing spate of farmers suicides and apprehensions about food insecurity compels us to remember and act on the noble words of Pt Nehru everything else can wait, but not agriculture. He pursued land redistribution and launched programmes to build irrigation canals, dams and spread the use of fertilizers to increase agricultural production. He also pioneered a series of community development programs aimed at spreading diverse cottage industries and increasing efficiency into rural India. While encouraging the construction of large dams (which he called the 'new temples of India'), irrigation works and the generation of hydroelectricity, Nehru also launched India's programme to harness nuclear energy.
Today the evils of so-called liberalization of economy and globalization of trade has spread its tentacles far and wide across the country causing increased unemployment, job insecurity, rising prices, increasing poverty and hunger and acute distress to farmers. The corporate houses and multinationals, with the support of government policies, are on an aggressive profit-making drive, capturing almost all spheres of life that affect a common man from farm to fork. They are absolutely unmindful about the distress caused to the common man.
Pt Nehru as a person was more liberal than what the so-called liberalized economy can offer. His vision of global order was different. He co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement keeping equidistant from two major power blocs the US and the Soviet Union. It is a sad tragedy that the present leaders of the country are leaning heavily towards US and following the dictates of the World Bank and IMF
He believed in democratic socialism with a thought for the poor. At the same time he was careful that real development of the country do not suffer. In fact in the initial phases major development programmes were initiated by Pt Nehru. His industrial policies, summarised in the Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956, encouraged the growth of diverse manufacturing and heavy industries.
He set up many institutions of higher learning, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management. Pt Nehru also outlined a commitment in his five-year plans to guarantee free and compulsory primary education to all of India's children. He also launched initiatives such as the provision of free milk and meals to children in order to fight malnutrition. Adult education centres, vocational and technical schools were also organised for adults, especially in the rural areas.
Pt Nehru had the sprit of political accommodation. When the first elected government that assumed power in 1952 under his leadership, he invited Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee of Hindu Maha Sabha to join his Cabinet as the countrys first industry minister.
On the diplomatic front, Pt Nehru failed in resolving the Kashmir issue. He also failed in his dealing with China who forcefully grabbed Tibet in 1950. But Pt Nehru should his firmness in liberating Goa from the Portugal in 1961 after years of failed negotiations.