The paradigm of economic and social development in India has evolved from the socialistic pattern to the one of openness and private-public partnership. Ideologically socialistic performance of the government soon after the Independence ensured that private corporate and other vested interest could not appropriate national resources such that the masses could have been adversely affected. Although the trigger happy economic evangelists do abuse the older economic system, what should be recognized at the time of the Independence, fresh with the influence of Gandhian thought and preaching, there could not have been any other choice to socialistic thought, at that time promoting a sense of equality although the sense of ownership was non-existent; excepting the relief that the Government has control over them, and that they are safe and not looted. The Nehurivian concerns therefore during the first few decades after Independence in my view were not only relevant but necessary.
However, a reminiscence of the process of development in India, invokes a considerable amount of satisfaction that India indeed has gone through a process of transformation from the license raj to opening up towards promoting private initiatives to exploit resources, in a way at the right time although such a change was forced upon due to the technocratic and purely fiscal prudence. Thus the recognition and promotion of the private initiative in development as a policy response to fast growth is commendable. Yet it is necessary to ponder upon as what kind of lopsided development and growth can occur should the government begin to absolve the role of the ‘trustee’ of the national and natural resources, while the private sector engulfed with the forces of free economy and competition penetrates to such economic dominions which were thus far insulated from exploitation, mostly due to lack of demand and largely due to lack of investments which governments could not bring.
Therefore, the economic process which are private but in principle endorsed by the public systems which also claim to be the so called ‘inclusive’ can damage the very fabric of nation hood and nation building. The economy and markets must operate and indeed promote the concept of nation hood and promote national integration, while making profits through exploiting local natural and human resources and adding value to the GDP.
Two pronged policies for growth and national interest are suggested, (a) an inclusive economic penetration and (b) a social framework which promotes equity and participation.
1. Integration inernally not outwardly: It is common to find that in the name of national integration one finds mass movements of people from mainstream areas in India to the periphery. This can happen in organized manner such as through government employment, movement of security forces to peripheral states; or this can happen due to market forces where both people and products penetrate into the periphery regions such as hill areas, north eastern states and so on.
Development orientation must ensure that the people and products from the periphery find a place in the mainland public, private and market spaces. This approach will not only bring progress in the deprived peripheral areas but also a high degree of national integration.
2. Identify and Cherish Cultural Values: Another strong mechanism through which national integration can take place is by identifying (cataloging) and promoting through recognition and appreciation social values, customs and practices from amongst the deprived and peripheral geographic areas and communities which can do beneficial to the mainland geography and communities. Such an approach may even be necessary to address a number of MDG goals such as child bearing and raring practices, gender relations (for example widow remarriage, woman’s inheritance and ownership rights and so on),
3. Promotion of Multiple Language Education: It is essential that along with the national and regional languages, mother tongue and international languages such as English are promoted through formal schooling. Currently there is hardly any importance give to provide primary education in mother tongue. Besides, access to English language is not found in publically provided schools and taking advantage this is done of private schooling but at a high cost and that too for a poor quality education. This anomaly in medium of instructions must be eliminated on an urgent basis. Arguments such as children will be burdened with too many languages are not adequate enough; to deny primary education in mother tongue and also English (other foreign languages) education.
4. Fund Translation of Literature in a New Language: Another strategy which can bind the nation together is to undertake massive efforts, to translate major compendiums of socio-cultural, historical and literary value into to multiple languages. This should not be from only one or two languages, rather from all other languages (including peripheral) to mainstream languages. This will be an excellent way to promote mutual respect to pluralistic value systems which prevail in India.