THE theme of this book is that India’s post-Independence economic policies have not helped but landed the country in trouble. The inevitable question that arises here is: what should India do to extract itself from this quagmire? Which path should the county adopt for economic growth and development?
Apparently there are only two options – either to continue with the present open-door policy of allowing multinational corporations and international credit institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and others to operate in the country or turn swadeshi as propagated by Mahatma Gandhi. It was he who suggested adoption of technology based on integrated, balanced development, that is, achieving national development through indigenous efforts, skills, capabilities and institutional set-ups. The author’s lament is that those who took over the reins of the country after Independence chose the path of development through alien mechanisms of capitalism and socialism. The Indian administrators framed and implemented policies, programmes and plans based either on market-controlled capitalist economy or a combination of the capitalism and socialism. Now, after witnessing the dismal experience of countries which adopted either the capitalist or the socialist path, it is time for us to develop an alternative development model.
The author, a doctor in economics and former reader of Delhi University, presents a charter of a new paradigm whose ideas are derived from the wellsprings of ancient Indian thought. As we all are aware, the Indian worldview perceives the entire universe as a living whole where the spirit, the mind and the body are considered interdependent. Exploitation of natural resources is replaced with harnessing, acquisition or consumerism with contentment and commodification by humanity. It does not place the human being at the centre of the universe; instead, it treats the individual as an integral part of the ecosystem. The author charts out a definitive course for economic and proper implementation of the unifying idea, which is based on the concept of optimal development, appropriate technology and sustainable growth leading to lasting happiness.
Despite having acquired ample experience on various approaches, policies, systems and development models, we find that all these are proving inadequate in the long run as they are not helping to solve the problems faced by mankind. We find poverty, inequality, unemployment, environmental degradation, increase in pollution levels, the phenomenon of global warming and climate change, rural stagnation, decline in ethical, cultural and human values leading to degradation of family and community life and the world economy, particularly the economy of the developing world, are at the crossroads of the development struggle.
The dilemmas and paradoxes of the development model are discussed in the book. It analyses development within the context of the above-mentioned major set of problems and suggests a problem and policy-oriented approach to development course.
Dividing the book into three chapters, the author explains the meaning and measures of the Western development model and its inconsistencies in the first chapter; in the second chapter he elaborates the search for a new development path – sumangalam, its meaning and broad objective; and the third chapter carries a mangal draft for socio-technical-economic structure to achieve the goals of sumangalam and thus restore the dignity of life, employment and environment.
(Gyan Publishing House, Gyan Kunj, 23 Main Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110 002; www.gyanbooks.com)