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NEW DELHI-Economy in a Tail-Spin

gave a call for demonstrations and street meetings in as many parts of the city as possible by the workers of other companies to draw attention on the Telco issue. The police used this as a pretext and swooped down on the hunger strikers and arrested over 4,000 Telco workers. Of these 2,000 were taken in buses and left off on the outskirts of the city, and 2,000 or so were taken into custody at places like Ratnagiri and Nashik. The TKS had been in a quandary about how to call off the mass hunger strike without appearing to be back tracking or weakening. The police action solved that problem. The company had not been too keen on the tripartite meeting and that problem too was resolved as no meeting could take place after the arrests.

NEW DELHI-Liberalisation Road to Economic Ruination

NEW DELHI THE Indian economy is facing a serious crisis. This warning was sounded by some 40 distinguished economists at a meeting sponsored by the Social Scientist in New Delhi on August 7 and 8. Their opinion was, of course, in sharp contrast to the euphoria that the leaders of the government and official spokesmen and publicists have been trying hard to create about the state of the Indian economy and the progress that is claimed to have been made as a result of official policy and management under the leadership of the prime minister The official side may indeed like to argue also, in order to blunt if they can the impact that the criticism by the experts may make on public opinion, that the economists who met in New Delhi were by and large of leftist persuasion and were not friendly to the present government and its leadership. This would not, however, be a wholly correct view of the New Delhi meeting of economists.

NEW DELHI-Electoral Politics at Cost of Economy

separate state and are prepared only to discuss the modalities of its formation. In the mean time every hundred-hour or three hundred-hour bandh raises the death toll. Entire hamlets are reduced to ashes. There is fear and suspicion clutching at everyone's throat in the affected areas. The tribal belts and blocks promised by the caste-Hindu Assamese leaders to the tribals before partition (which had been instrumental in weaning away the tribals from the influence of the Muslim League) had been given effect through legislation. But in practice these have been heavily breached again and again. The tribals are now a decided minority in most areas claimed by the Bodos for their separate state. It will be a superhuman task to re-group the mixed population and construct a state with a more or less homogeneous population. It is now too late probably to reverse epochal demographic trends and dispossess people who have struck deep roots in the land that theoretically belongs to the tribals alone. The Bodo grievance can best be solved through a package deal, which may in clude eviction of a non-tribal people who have encroached on tribal belts after a cutoff year, say 1979, creation of small autonomous regions where the Bodo population is comparatively numerous, but with obviously limited functions, special safeguards for their language and culture (Bodo had been granted the status of associate state language already under Hiteswar Saikia, though its implementation has so far been perfunctory) and, in my opinion the most important part, sharing power with the tribals at the highest level in the state, with Bodo members having permanent berths in the state cabinet and smaller tribes being represented on it by rotation. Portfolios like tribal development should be put in the hands of tribal ministers. In this way most of their fears and worries may be set at rest without drastic and meaningless re-organisation of the state, and the political and cultural hegemony of the Assamese may be tempered. It is most unlikely that the centre which likes to fish in troubled waters will be happy with such a set-up. But then there is the sobering thought that Assam may well turn into another Punjab.

On the Fast Track to Economic Dependence

On the 'Fast Track' to Economic Dependence B M THE 'fast track' for the inflow of direct foreign investment which was opened up by the prime minister after his visit to Tokyo last year and which is no longer limited to Japanese capital and has been extended to all OECD countries was claimed, to begin with, to be a device merely to streamline cumbersome procedures and end bureaucratic delays in the processing of proposals for foreign investment. The 'fast track' has indeed given the desired results and there was a spurt in direct foreign investment last year. As against an annual average of Rs 100 crore in recent years, direct foreign investment is reported to have been well over Rs 200 crore in 1988.

Toeing the G-7 Line

B M In the ongoing North-South dialogue, the official Indian policy appears to be to opt out of the third world and, instead of playing a positive role in the G-77 and the non aligned movement, pretend to be a medium developing country and act as honest broker to the G-77 and the new world economic order.

Vain Search for Indian Renaissance

additional central assistance as in the case of World Bank and IDA assisted projects involving substantially local currency expenditure.
Further in the case of World Bank, IDA and ADB loans, the credit is usually limited to around 50 per cent of the total project cost and the balance 50 per cent has to be met from the states' own resources and to that extent additionally available would amount in real terms to only 35 per cent of the total project cost. This is not the position in the case of projects financed under some of the bilateral credits and agencies like the EEC. In such cases of projects fully funded by the foreign donois, 70 per cent of the aid disbursed is available to the state governments as additionally. In other words, the state government's commitment is limited to 30 per cent of the project cost.

Getting Caught in the Technology Trap

Getting Caught in the Technology Trap THE presentation of the Defamation Bill and its passage through the Lok Sabha at breakneck speed has raised an unprecedented political storm such as the ruling establishment had not bargained for. This has forced the government to halt in mid- track in its search for desperate remedies for its vulnerable plight on the score of corruption charges. But looking for desperate remedies for its mounting political ailments has become the standard style of functioning of the ruling caucus. On the economic front too the hope entertained by it that, with a very good monsoon and bumper crops, the economy would bounce back to the growth path is turning out to be somewhat facile.

Government Helping Rich Farmers Profit from Drought

By keeping foodgrain releases for the food-for-work programme to the minimum, by encouraging export of farm commodities and by giving in to pressures to raise procurement prices, the government is actively helping rich farmers to make the most of the opportunity for making additional profits provided by the drought.

Decline of Technical-Professional Cadres-Seeds of Current Unrest

Decline of Technical-Professional Cadres Seeds of Current Unrest B M The key issue in the nationwide teachers' strike and in the earlier strikes and agitations by other professional groups, such as doctors, is that of the status of professionals in the scheme of things at the present stage of development of the Indian economy and society When development planning was launched in the country it was assumed that in course of time the technical and professional cadres would overshadow the generalist administrators. But now when the political authority is anxious to dilute the role of the state in the development process and to strengthen instead its administrative and security functions, it is inevitable that the technical-professional cadres should be expected to play second fiddle to the bureaucrats.

Indo-Soviet Economic Relations-Danger Signals and False Expectations

Indo-Soviet Economic Relations Danger Signals and False Expectations B M Even if the question of 'safeguards' attached to the supply of enriched uranium is side-stepped, the Soviet offer to put up two nuclear power plants in India is inconsistent with India's nuclear power programme and cannot but emasculate the country's progress so far in nuclear technology. Nor is the agreement on cooperation in science and technology signed during Rajiv Gandhi's visit to Moscow likely to significantly alter the fact that in the scheme of modernisation of the Indian economy to which Rajiv Gandhi subscribes the Soviet Union can have but a peripheral role.

NEW DELHI-Passing Power into Foreign Hands

NEW DELHI Passing Power into Foreign Hands B M PUBLIC polemics in recent weeks between the industry minister, Vengal Rao, and the minister of state for public enterprises, K K Tiwari, on the one hand, and the energy minister, Vasant Sathe, on the other, on the question of foreign financing and turnkey construction of power plants as against fuller utilisation of indigenous power plants equipment and role of the private sector in setting up power projects have been interesting and revealing of the state of confusion in the government. While Vengal Rao was somewhat restrained when he declared that private enterpaise could not be relied upon to build power projects since it would not be able to raise enough capital for the purpose, K K Tiwari went hammer and tongs against Vasant Sathe for what he claimed was a "distorted version of government policies" and dubbed him as "minister to private enterprise". Vasant Sathe, on his part, declared that BHEL equipment would be used only if it was competitive with foreign supplies, presumably not only in respect of prices but credit back-up also, for power projects and went on to suggest that BHEL might as well as transferred to his ministry for better co-ordination and to end unseemly controversies.

NEW DELHI-The King and the Courtiers

itself. At one end the Union Finance Minister is. busy offering tax concessions and either abolishing outright or lowering the rates of direct taxes, including the tax-on property; at the other end the Planning Commission painstakingly puts together data to clinch the point that concessions in direct taxes over the past decade have not at all led to any buoyancy in tax revenues. Perhaps this was the last hurrah of the Commission, but it certainly makes nonsense of all that was stated in the National Development Council about how revenues are going to soar once the rich and the comfortably off are properly coddled.


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