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

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And Now, Gentlemen, the New Strategy for Industrialisation

Ranjit Sau Southeast Asia's Economy: Develoment Policies in the 1970s by H Myint; Penguin Books, 1972; pp 190, 45 p. WHEN the curtain finally dropped in Gunnar Myrdal's "Asian Drama" the Green Revolution had not yet appeared on the scene. It was just looming large on the horizon by the time the Pearson Commission got down to chalking out the do's and don't-do's for the aid-givers; the Commission however had precious little to say as to what the poor aid-receivers should do. The book under review fills up an important gap: it is in effect a report of the poor men's Pearson Commission. Myint does not require much time to narrate the Southeast Asian drama as such; he goes straight to the epilogue. The Green Revolution is taken for granted. Of course, there are some technical problems, it is recognised; and a few organisational problems as well. But they need not detain him for long. "Side effects"? Yes. The bigger farms, for instance, are using "excessively mechanised methods of farming which waste scarce capital resources and result in too little employment''. Well, the solution is not far to seek. Increase the rate of interest, and impose excise taxes on heavy tractors. Next: there are "practical problems of labour relations. Given the 'revolution of rising expectation', workers in most underdeveloped countries including the Southeast Asian countries tend to demand a higher wage rate than which is consistent with full employment of the existing labour supply", Myint has a quick recommendation : preserve the small-scale tenancy. "In practice a tenant may be prepared to work for much lower real wages on his farm than he is willing to work as a labourer on a large farm This will [also] help to increase the volume of agricultural employment". To continue, "since the Green Revolution in Southeast Asia does not confer significant technical advantages upon large- scale farming units, the pattern of small peasant holdings may be retained because the large farmers tend to use excessively capital-intensive and labour- saving machinery, such as heavy tractors, etc, and because peasants tend to work better on their holdings, even as tenant farmers, than as agricultural lalwurers on the larger farms". Besides, observes Myint, "there seems little vali- dity for the general argument that land reform is a necessary precondition for further agricultural development''.

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