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

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Political Courage

The presentation of the Draft Outline of the Fourth Five Year Plan to Parliament in its present form can well be an act of great political courage, considering the climate of opinion that has prevailed in the Congress Party and the murky atmosphere which has blurred the prospects of foreign aid. 

The presentation of the Draft Outline of the Fourth Five Year Plan to Parliament in its present form can well be an act of great political courage, considering the climate of opinion that has prevailed in the Congress Party and the murky atmosphere which has blurred the prospects of foreign aid. It can well be an act of political courage, if behind it there is an acceptance of basic postulates and a commit-ment to all that the Draft stands for. But it may also turn out to be more a gesture that is only mock heroic, an aid to future bargaining, not only with prospective aid-givers but also with the combative and conflicting political and interest groups within the country, the States versus the Centre, private versus the public sector, vested interest groups in agriculture versus the rest and so on.

The 422 printed pages of the Draft running into 25 chapters which were presented to Parliament has not, however, yet been made avail-able to the press. Government publicity organisations could not obvi-ously cope with the task. So the preliminary comments have neces-sarily to be based on press releases. On the basis of what is avail-able, it is difficult to understand or explain the chorus of press criti-cisms which has largely taken the line of describing the Draft Outline as unrealistic, fantastic, lopsided, etc. The fact that it has taken such a long time to prepare should rather support the presumption — until proven to the contrary — that probably much more of work has gone into it than into the making of any of the earlier plans. The lapse of time also perhaps means that the Draft would embody layers of compromises and ad hoc adjustments in its printed pages. But what strikes one as outstanding considering the circumstances under which the Draft took its shape is that there is no discernible sign of any modifi-cations forced upon it by outside pressure. True enough, none of the earlier plans was drafted on the basis of a firm commitment of foreign aid.. It had nevertheless been possible to get the foreign exchange required for the plan that was presented to Parliament, subsequent modest or minor modifications apart. That there is no apparent de-parture from that practice this time also is surprising, in view of the particularly difficult conditions under which the Outline has been pre-pared and the more than usual uncertainties that must have blurred the vision in the laying down of the policies and setting down of targets.

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