Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
Development as a people’s movement
Development was a key issue in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
In his very first speech after taking over as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi
asserted that his government is committed to carrying on development as a
people’s movement. This, he has asserted, will draw upon India’s democratic,
demographic and demand dividends. But are we genuinely moving towards organising
development as a people’s movement while building on these strengths? To cater
to India’s massive population of consumers, people should have adequate
purchasing power, such as that enjoyed by people employed in the industries or
services sector. Unfortunately, as the malnourishment statistics indicate, a
vast majority of Indians are poor, with barely 10 per cent employed in the
organised sector. We are being convinced that vigorous economic growth is
generating substantial employment. But this is not so.
When our economy was growing at 3 per cent per year,
employment in the organised sector was growing at 2 per cent per year. As the
economy began to grow at 7-8 per cent per year, the rate of growth of employment
in the organised sector actually declined to 1 per cent per year since most of
the economic growth was based on technological progress, including automation.
At the same time, the increasing pressure of the organised sector on land,
water, forest and mineral resources has adversely impacted employment in
farming, animal husbandry and fisheries sectors. People who are being pushed out
of these occupations are now crowding in urban centres. This is in turn leading
to a decline in the productivity of the organised industries and services
sector. Evidently, the ship of our development is sadly adrift.
Undoubtedly, people aspire for development. But what is
development? Joseph Stiglitz, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics and
one-time chairman of Bill Clinton’s Economic Advisory Council, offers an
insightful analysis, asserting that development should result in an enhancement
of the totality of a nation’s four-fold capital stocks: the capital of material
goods, natural capital such as soil, water, forests and fish, human capital
including health, education and employment, and social capital comprising mutual
trust and social harmony. Our current pattern of economic development is by no
means a balanced process resulting in the overall enhancement of the totality of
Thus, for instance, mining in Goa has severely damaged the
State’s water resources and caused high levels of air and water pollution. The
ever-increasing content of metals in drinking water reservoirs has adversely
impacted health. When thousands of trucks were plying ore on the roads of Goa,
the resulting chaos in traffic and accidents seriously disrupted social harmony.
Evidently, the single-minded focus on industrial growth is not leading to
sustainable, harmonious development, but merely nurturing a money-centred
In Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts of Maharashtra, both
of which are Naxal-torn, there are hopeful examples emerging of how development
may be nurtured as a people’s movement. A number of tribal and other traditional
forest-dwelling communities of these districts now have management rights over
Community Forest Resources under the Forest Rights Act. The state retains
ownership over such resources, and these cannot be diverted to other purposes.
But now these resources are being managed holistically with a fuller involvement
of the people. The citizens of Pachgaon, for instance, have, through two
full-day meetings of their entire Gram Sabha, decided upon 40-odd regulations.
Tendu leaves are a major forest produce, but their harvest entails extensive
lopping and setting of forest fires.