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Technology s Aimless Take-Offs

August 25, 1973 with the Opposition. The Prime Minister was, perhaps, trying to establish one point. In the past she had consulted them

Retreat from Self-Reliance in Technology

is a landmark in the hi story of Malayalam language. The whole project was completed in 68 months. The encyclopaedia deals with 12,000 topics and there were about 1,000 contributors. It is remarkable that a co-opera- live .society of authors could successfully complete such an ambitious undertaking, though, to those who know the history of this society, this will not come as a surprise. It was started in 1045 by 12 authors with a capital of lis 120 for publishing books and for eliminating the exploitation of authors by printers and publishers. Very soon it became the leading publishing house in Kerala, It has now a subscribed capital of Rs 8 lakhs and has published 4,500 titles, including reprints of some rare books like Gundert's Malayalam dictionary. It is publishing a book a day of late and pays the highest royalty to authors. "Viswa Vijnanakosam" is priced Rs 600.

Muscles of Steel

Muscles of Steel D C Kale The Soviet Challenge in Base Metals by Alexander Sutulov, Salt Lake City, University of Utah Printing Services, 1971; pp viii + 195; $ 12.50, By orbiting a heavy Sputnik into the sky without fanfare in 1957, Russia gave cleat notices that in the science and technology race it was not far behind the US. Less dramatically, it also set a more basic challenge: that of surpassing the US as the leading producer of steel and base metals by the end of their ninth Plan in 1975. The way in which this task is being tackled makes a fascinating study in spite of the information being presented in patches, Alexander Sutulov has in the past few years, given con- siderable attention to the development of the mining and metallurgical industries in USSR, The book under review is the result of his careful compilation of technological and economic data on this subject. His theme is to compare production and consumption in the USSR with that in the US, but there are many lessons to be learned by India as to how a backward country built up its mineral industry to a dominant position. The introductory chapter mentions that, while the two gaint countries have only 12 per- cent of the world's population, they account for half of the world's gross output and 40 per cent of base metals output. At the end of the sixties, the annual mineral output per capita was around $100 for the US and $60 for Russia. The USSR's ninth Five Year Plan (1970-75), which envisages an investment of over $500,000 million, will boost steel output by 26 per cent, oil and natural gas by about 45 per cent, and copper and aluminium by 35 to 70 per cent, It must be remembered too that these increases are over base figures which are already among the highest in the world.

Dithering in Aluminium

 THERE are disquieting rumours that Bharat Aluminium Company, the public sector undertaking, may be reconsidering the location and time-schedule of its Koyna/Ratnagiri project. This project is of key importance in Indian plans to maintain self-sufficiency in aluminium at least into the late 70's and any prevarication at this stage would be little short of a disaster. The company had very slow schedules to start with; the Tariff Commission, for example, could find hardly anything new happening in this company between its two studies in 1968 and 1971. The Koyna project is for manufacturing 50,000 tonnes metal, of which half would be of EC grade. It was decided that the smelter at Rat- nagiri would-be commissioned earlier so as to treat surplus alumina from Korha. while the alumina plant which would utilise ores from Dhangarwadi and Ud- gir would be commissioned shortly thereafter. This is a sound fcheme provided it is implemented in time. However, the hesitation, the pessimism and the warnings in advance that the project might be uneconomic are most disquieting. The public sector has learnt to adopt this last tactic for projects which are yet to be commissioned. Bo- karo and the proposed new steel plants at Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagar, as also several other projects, are announcing in advance that they will be uneconomic unless prices are raised substantially. Coal is another case in point where price increases denied to private producers as such are given to them through the intervention of the public sector. What is interesting is that the doubts are not expressed before a project is sanctioned and top staff appointed! PRIVATE SECTOR BENEFITS The Tariff Commission's report of September 1971 on the aluminium industry has had a similar effect. The Commission boldly, and correctly, announced that the Indian aluminium industry had come of age and that it did not need protection any longer. How- ever, because Bharat Aluminium as a new producer would suffer if protection was removed, the Commission recommended its continuation for three years. The Government of India (through the Ministry of Foreign Trade, strangely enough) Went one step further and extended protection for five years, ie, upto 1976. Private aluminium compa nies will benefit greatly out of this, while it is doubtful if BALCO will derive any benefit at all by 1976. By humming and hawing over plant sites at this stage, and after several crores of rupees have been spent on project reports, camp sites, changes of consultants/ collaborators and their terms of reference and trips abroad, mainly to Eastern Europe, this is hardly the time for the government to change its mind. The Koyna plant is perfectly viable. It can be run at a profit

Strategy for Mineral Exports

D C Kale IN the context of the generally worsening terms of trade of the developing countries, who Are also primarily exporters of unfinished goods, ores and minerals, much thought has to be given to discovering ways in which better terms can be obtained for these exports.

Lay Information on Aluminium

Lay Information on Aluminium D C Kale Aluminium Industry in India by A G Majumdar; Economic and Scientific Research Foundation, New Delhi; pp 80 + vii; Rs 10.

COLLIERIES-Alternative to Nationalisation

villagers it is hard to decide where the wells should be dug as that requires some knowledge of soil structures and water tables. This the State could well undertake through consultants. True location would still pose a problem of intra-village feuds, but these surely can be thrashed out with the co-operation of the villagers. After all, even today solutions are imposed on the villagers on the excuse of the dire famine and scai- city conditions. The wells would at least increase agricultural productivity. We were struck by the lack of organisation among the labourers themselves, despite the appalling terms and condi- hand methods to pay a man less than his due, nor that union leaders are ever ready to accept gratifications from employers. Barring a few honourable exceptions, one can say that morality in the matter of labour relations is unheard of in the area. Thirdly, the industry has suffered for want of wagons for years and years. Even when It produces enough coal, the industry cannot despatch it; like the quality of mercy coal can bless him that gives, and him that receives. Today both sides are suffering because railways have failed to measure up to the demands made on them. They have failed to make wagons available; they have failed to control their staff, which resorts to strikes and go-slow tactics at the slightest excuse in this area; and they have failed to check corruption and thefts. Railways have lost valuable freight, and an artificial shortage of coal has led to profiteering by opportunists.

Oil Consumption Pattern

Oil Consumption Pattern D C Kale Consumption Pattern of Selected Petroleum Products, National Council of Applied Economic Research, 1971; pp xiv + 152; Rs 20.

Iron Ore Needs Perspective Planning

Iron Ore Needs Perspective Planning D C Kale THE export of iron ore is a major factor in India's foreign trade. Iron ore mining and export, however, have not developed as systematically as one could wish. The industry has had to meet the twin demands of exports and the local steel plants. The Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) has recently published a study which makes the point that there is enough iron ore in the country to last for centuries and suggests that, therefore, intensive efforts should be made to export the maximum possible quantity of ore in the next few years. The study further recommends the export of pellets, pig iron and crude steel, until India is in a position to export semifinished and finished goods.

Diversion or Creation of Trade

before and they are still busy sorting out things among themselves. Though the Nepalese Prime Minister, Kirtinidhi Bista, recently denied in his talks with an emissary of Bisheshwar Prashad Koirala that his Government was working hand in glove with communists to keep democrat ie forees at bay, there is no denying that the Singha Darbar is already infested with channels of Chinese influence. This is not to imply that Nepal would opt for Chinese communism or that Singha Darbar and Kathmandu reflect the preferences of the rest of the country outside Kathmandu Valley

Technical Consultancy Revisited

 acres of land, Apart from the tensions created by such large-scale forcible eviction, two other factors have been responsible for heightening resentment among Adivasis. First, a good part of the 40,000 acres which Government has agreed to distribute among the landless is being given not to their present occupants but to others on grounds which are entirely political. Second, very often land from which Adivasis are evicted is subsequently bought by big landlords with the connivance of Government forest officers and other authorities.


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