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

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Rule of Seven

WHEN the stabilisation and structural adjustment programme was initiated immediately after the Narasimha Rao government came to power four years ago, solutions to the problems of mass poverty, malnutrition, unemployment and underemployment were conceived essentially in terms of the rate of growth of the economy. High growth rates, of the type achieved in the east Asian countries, it used to be confidently suggested, would take care of the poor. Well-meaning misgivings about high enough growth rates being achieved in the face of the prevailing social backwardness, limitations of the domestic market and supply-side disabilities caused by inadequate infrastructure, low levels of domestic saving and investment and slow agricultural growth used to be brusquely brushed aside as the wailing of drawmg-room Cassandras. Economic planning was effectively put an end to, severe fiscal and monetary compression was imposed, public expenditure on the social sectors was drastically curtailed and programmes intended for the poor, including the special employment programmes, were sidelined. Evidence of worsening of the condition of the poor and vulnerable sections of society was, however, not long in coming and could not be entirely ignored even by this government. Small increases in the budgetary allocations for the intensive rural development programme (IRDP) were made and some new schemes for providing employment to the poor in 1993-94 were announced with much fanfare. But the increases in public spending camc after the stiff contraction earlier and the additional employment programmes could hardly be expected to make up for the sharp curtailment of many regular public programmes for social and economic services.

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