Indian economy is going the corporate way; whether it is rural or agricultural development programme, the poor remain at the receiving end as the gaps between the rural and the urban, organised and unorganised sectors are widening. This was the consensus emerged during the panel discussion on “Direction of Indian Economy in the Light of Budget 2008” organised jointly by Radiance Viewsweekly and Daanish Books at Constitution Club in the Capital on March 8.
The panellists covered diverse issues such as inclusive growth, agricultural growth, fiscal prudence and gender budgeting.
Initiating the discussion, Prof. Arun Kumar of Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, expressed his concern over growing disparities in the society, lack of adequate investment in agricultural sector, and jobless growth in the various sectors.
Prof. Kumar, who is an authority on macroeconomics and public finance, emphasised the assumptions underlying the budget must be realistic in order to yield the desired results.
“In his Budget speech Finance Minister Chidambaram assumed that economy will grow 13% per annum but it is likely to come down to mere 8% or 9%. Similarly, all other assumptions would go wrong,” he said.
Prof. Kumar also advocated the paradigm shift in Indian economy by bringing market forces and technology under the subordination of social interests.
“Technology should be under man’s control rather than technology and markets controlling us,” he observed, adding, “We need to change the principles of marketisation.”
Participating in the discussion, Prof. M.S. Bhatt, Head Department of Economics, Jamia Millia Islamia, emphasised the necessity of community development programmes and a change in the structure of Indian agricultural system.
“Only 20% of land belongs to villagers; the rest is under the possession of the Chautalas and the Badals, or the Bachchans, who hold big farm houses,” he lamented.
Prof. Bhatt dwelt in detail upon the environmental plunders and other severe damages the present economic policy is causing in India.
He also underlined the need for updating information data base.
Dr. N. Hansa, Director WomenPowerConnect, analysed the evolution of women specific initiatives of the Government of India in the five-year plans and general budgets.
She expressed her satisfaction that the Government at least pay heed to their recommendations and does as much as possible.
Mr. Saumen Chattopadhyay of JNU focussed on the fiscal as well as social sector aspects of the Budget.
He expressed his discontent with regard to rising indirect taxes and falling direct taxes. This, according to him, should be the other way round to ensure social equality.
He also expressed his concern over the sorry state of affairs when it comes to standard and delivery mechanism of the schemes especially in the field of education.
In the question-answer session, agricultural crisis was the main focus and the alternative ways to address this issue were discussed. Interest-free banking was discussed as one of the most promising alternative as it is being successfully implemented in many countries across the world.
Dr. Waquar Anwar, Secretary Board of Islamic Publications which publishes Radiance, formally welcomed the guests and audience. Mr. Dhruva Narayan, Managing Editor Daanish Books, conducted the programme while Mr. Ejaz Ahmed Aslam, Editor Radiance, extended hearty thanks to the panellists and the audience.