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

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From 50 Years Ago: The Challenge of the Third Plan.

Editorial from Volume XIII, No.'s 4, 5 & 6, February 4, 1961.

It is possible that human ingenuity will one day discover an entirely satisfactory method of measuring the economic and social progress of a country. We have today no such measure; nor does the emergence of such a calculus in the near future seem very likely. There are, of course, a variety of indices which may be used to describe in a rough and ready way certain elements or aspects of what is commonly believed to constitute progress. But these con-centrate, as they have to, on the quantifiable elements. The amorphous but none the less important qualitative changes that occur dur-ing a process of development remain incom-mensurable. Unable to ignore them, we try to take them into account while interpreting the meaning of variations in the indices over time or space. The difficulty arises not merely in as-sessing the end-result but also in defining the ‘factors of development’ and the contribution that may be imputed to them. Professor Arthur Lewis has observed that one of the major forc-es in development is the “wall to develop”. Undoubtedly, a society which lacks the will to develop cannot make the grade as quickly as circumstances permit. But, equally undoubt-edly, the mere willing of things will not bring them into being. Somewhere in between, this factor exercises a powerful influence on the extent and manner in which the social econo-my pulls itself up. When and how this happens are matters which are felt rather than rea-soned out ex ante. These might seem to be, but are not, aca-demic questions to be debated by social scientists in splendid isolation. They arise when policy-makers, planners, administrators – indeed, any-body at all who is concerned with the welfare of the society in which he lives – seek to identi-fy the existing situation in relation to some past one or in relation to an anticipated one.

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