ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

V M RaoSubscribe to V M Rao

Economic Reforms and the Poor- Emerging Scenario

Since the launching of economic reforms, the question of their impact on the poor has received much attention of researchers and policy-makers. Economic reforms are part of a broader strategy assigning distinctive roles to the government, markets and people's organisations in promoting growth and in eradicating poverty. In this scheme, economic reforms are expected to play a major role in stepping up growth with the government and people's organisations looking after the poor. This paper presents a quick and impressionistic assessment of the prospects for the new strategy in the years ahead. The following propositions can be made with some confidence: (a) The poor have made some gains since independence but they still remain too weak and vulnerable to move upwards with their own initiative and efforts, The system helps them in distress but does little to nurture them as productive and creative beings; (b) There are many question marks on the capacity of economic reforms to bring about sustained growth accessible to the poor. The underlying policy-making processes focus on the short- term gains of a few groups rather than on the long-term challenges to the system posed by the future; (c) The political mobilisation of the intermediate and lower strata including the poor is gathering momentum and drawing in the lagging groups. In the medium and long run, this could be an important factor pushing the system on to a different development path. However, it is difficult to foresee clearly the course taken by this process, its impact on the system and consequences for the poor.

Development, Carnatic Style

Development, Carnatic Style V M Rao Land Reforms in India, Vol 4, Karnataka edited by Abdul Aziz and Sudhir Krishna; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1997; pp 291, Rs 395. Facets of Development: Studies in Karnataka by Vinod Vyasulu; Rawat Publications, Jaipur, 1997; pp 382, Rs 650.

Adjusting to Changing Regimes-ACRP in the Context of New Policies

too pleasant. Of course, the forum was not a place for serious debate, but the attempt to hide behind the standard economic cliches was equally, if not far more, disturbing. The poor and the unemployed have to look for supportive domestic policy regimes and it is simplistic, as many asserted, to lay the blame on globalisation for the inadequacies of domestic policy regimes. But then, as some asked, how does one ensure the kind of flexibility in a conditionality regime which puts severe restraints on developing and implementing employment-oriented domestic policies? Such questions came cropping up again and again throughout the two-day conference, but these were voices in the wilderness. The fate of the poor and the unemployed are not fit subjects for discussion in a conference on globalisation. Leave the poor and the unemployed to their fate, as in Baudelair's 'old clown': "He was not weeping, he was not dancing, he was not gesticulating, he was not shouting, he was soliciting nothing. He was mute and motionless. He had given up, he had abdicated, his fate was sealed.'' On the very same days when bold starry- eyed speeches were being made in the cosy conference hall, the typhoon from south-east Asia had hit the western shores. The stock markets were being buffeted. Policy-makers and politicians were taking sides; some attacked speculators, having themselves played speculators in earlier cycles, some who have belted on the so-called fundamentals were looking desperately for excuses to air their new-found wisdom, some dismissed these as normal aberrations in an otherwise healthy world economy. While all this was happening in the real world, making a mockery of the theme of the conference, the leading lights chose to ignore it, it did not fit in their neat formula and the best and the most civilised way to handle the controversy was to avoid it. This they did with superb aplomb.

Agricultural Development with a Human Face-Experiences and Prospects

Experiences and Prospects V M Rao Over the past few decades, the Indian agriculture has had remarkable technological changes and there is promise of arrival of even more sophisticated technologies in the years to come. The sector is also believed to have a wide range of commodities enjoying comparative advantage in international trade. Despite these favourable features, the sector is described by many as having become 'a parking lot for the poor' over the planning decades. Does this paradox hold any lessons for the future agricultural policies? Does the hindsight suggest how India may improve its performance in the fieId of human development? The purpose of this paper is to probe these questions.

Reconciling the Two Indias

Reconciling the Two Indias V M Rao Dilemmas of Growth by M L Dantwala; edited by Pravin Visaria, N A Mujumdar and T R Sundaram; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1996; pp 403, Rs 350.

Planning for Liberalisation-ACRP in Changing Context

Agro-Climatic Regional Planning (ACRP) has a major role to play in helping agriculture to adjust to liberalisation and make effective use of the opportunities it offers for growth.

Looking Ahead to the Past

Economic Liberalisation and Indian Agriculture edited by G S Bhalla; Institute for Studies in Industrial Development, New Delhi, 1994; pp XXXIII+

Beyond Surpluses-Food Security in Changing Context

Beyond 'Surpluses' Food Security in Changing Context V M Rao The present comfortable foodgrain situation should induce some hard thinking on the prevailing food security system rather than an attitude of complacency.

Agriculture and Liberalisation-Some Implications for Development Policies

Considering the economy as a whole, including agriculture and its present development status, liberalisation can be a step in the right direction provided it is used as a strategy not to withdraw the government from the economy but to shift the focus of government policies and concerns from helping and subsidising the organised parts of the economy, which are now viable enough to operate on their own, to building up the economy and society in the vast unorganised parts lacking development and remaining backward. Such a strategy can promote broad-based agricultural growth which would not only increase the growth rate of the economy but, more important, enable the backward areas and the poor to participate in growth and share in its benefits. Without such a long-term perspective, liberalisation, instead of promoting growth would only intensify the gathering crisis in the economy.

The Wheat Story-Recent Changes in Price Policy

Recent Changes in Price Policy V M Rao Have the large increases in the minimum support price for wheat made in the current and the preceding seasons raised it to a level difficult to sustain in future? There are some alarm signals which should cause anxiety OWING to its remarkable production performance since the late 60s, wheat has rightly come to be regarded as the crop which best symbolises the green revolution in Indian agriculture. But even a benign revolution like the green revolution which raises agricultural production to levels unheard of in the past brings in its trail painful problems of adjustment. When production accelerates, coping with surpluses poses problems in an economy reared on a prolonged past deprived of growth. On the other hand, once the economy gets addicted to growth, slowing down in the surge in production hurts even more leading to policy responses which may be unavoidable in the short run but hinder reforms needed for the period beyond. Here we shall attempt to put in a pattern the recent changes observed in the price policy for wheat to illustrate the dilemma faced by the policy-maker in a situation of slowing down in the production of a commodity after a long phase of rapid growth.

How Secure Is Food Security

How Secure Is Food Security? V M Rao Providing Food Security for All by Mohiuddin Alamgir and Poonam Arora; IFAD Studies in Rural Poverty No 1, Intermediate Technology Publications, London, 1991; pages XX + 268, price not mentioned.

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