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NEW DELHI-Uneasy Thice among Conflicting Interests

NEW DELHI Uneasy Thice among Conflicting Interests B M The Minimum Programme of the United Front reflects an uneasy truce among disparate political parties and the conflicting social and economic interests they represent. But a truce by its very nature is a temporary arrangement.

NEW DELHI-Selling Shoddy Goods

NEW DELHI Selling Shoddy Goods B M Manmohan Singh's budget speech this year was indeed an advertiser's copy long on rhetoric and short on substance

NEW DELHI-Inflation Finance Minister s Forgotten Promises

Official policy is now guided by the notion that there is no way, at least for a long time to come, to pull the economy out of the mire of stagflation. It has, therefore, settled for keeping inflationary pressures within what may be just tolerable limits for the upper and middle classes, though the mass of the people are hit hard.

NEW DELHI-The New Panchsheela

The New Panchsheela B M THE ruling Congress party is making frantic efforts to celebrate three years of Rao government. The resources of the party directly and of the government indirectly have been mobilised in full measure for the purpose. It is a wholly partisan affair of the ruling coterie headed by the prime minister, P V Narasimha Rao, so much so that many factions and personalities even in the ruling party are bound to look upon it with reservations and misgivings. It actually signals a farewell finally and openly to its pretension of following the principle of consensus politics, which to the party has meant, right from the beginning, a carte-blanche for breaking the cherished national consensus based on values and objectives of the prolonged struggle of the Indian people for freedom, democracy, and socio-economic development on the basis of self-reliance and social equity.

NEW DELHI-Under the US Umbrella

of the Indian elite by reiterating the 'bilateral' nature of the Kashmir problem. There has been a quid pro quo there too. The Rao government decided to accept American .sensibilities on the Indian missile programme. We shall not be surprised if the American government were to ignore Rao government's missile exercise just before the general elections in 1996. But whether or not that happens, postponement of 'Prithvi

NEW DELHI-Clandestine Surrender on MIGA

NEW DELHI Clandestine Surrender on MIGA B M Successive governments in New Delhi had refused to join MIGA, the World Bank-sponsored arrangement for extending special protection to foreign private investment, on the ground that foreign investors, tike Indian business, should rely on Indian laws for ensuring fair treatment and security and not on supranational arrangements and agencies which have the effect of abridging the country's sovereignty. The government of Narasimha Rao has now thrown such considerations overboard and has decided, surreptitiously and without taking the country into confidence, to join MIGA.

NEW DELHI-Selling India at Devos

to go into these cases. All that labour representatives could suggest was that a convention be established that the BIFR should hold its hand on such cases (ill the Special Tripartite Committee completed its own examination Of the cases with a view to turning around the units.

NEW DELHI-Charade of Plan Making

NEW DELHI Charade of Plan Making B M With the shadow of the World Bank-IMF combine looming large over economic policy making, the Planning Commission's pretence of carrying on as if nothing was the matter fails to carry conviction.

NEW DELHI-Economic Policy Making and Coalition Politics

THE political strains and tensions which the minority government headed by V P Singh has to face are tending to get acute from day to day. The prime minister, on his part, puts a brave face on all that is happening even while he is applauded by his admirers for dexterity and balancing tricks in crisis management as crisis after crisis surfaces and threatens to destabilise him and his government. The policy responses and management and administrative methods that are employed tend in these conditions to be jerky, totally ad hoc and often contradictory as well as superficial. Remarkable have been the pulling out of Jagmohan from Jammu and Kashmir even while he has been nominated to Rajya Sabha and the appointment of a policeman, that too with a RAW background, to replace him and tackle the Kashmir problem with greater flexibility and imagination than shown by Jagmohair.

NEW DELHI-Industrial Policy More of the Same

NEW DELHI Industrial Policy: More of the Same?
B M The top civil servants are currently engaged in a laborious but methodical exercise of 'educating' the ministers. Armed with bulky files, relying on rules and procedures and singing the siren song of realism and administrative feasibility these bureaucrats can baffle the most radical of ministers and make them see the virtues of 'playing safe'.

NEW DELHI-Why Not Back to Mahalanobis Model

NEW DELHI THE Planning Commission has been reconstituted with the appointment of as many as nine full-time members. The prime minister, who remains the chairman of the commission, does not seem to have taken much interest in the constitution of the new Planning Commission. Except for getting rid of T N Seshan as cabinet secretary by finding a higher berth for him in the Planning Commission as a full-time member, he does not seem to have played a guiding role. Devi Lal, the deputy prime minister, took a part in it only to put one nominee of his own to take care of his interest in the development of the agricultural sector according to his special preferences and perceptions. Except for Arun Ghosh and A Vaidyanathan who can be said to be competent economists capable of bearing the brunt of plan making, the others seem to have qualified for nomination as full-time members for their outspoken political positions and/or proximity to Hegde. Hegde has also managed to get endorsement for his idea of giving a statutory position to the commission. Some of the new members of the commission do have a commendable record as social activists. In any case, it is odd that whereas they have emphasised the need for decentralising planning enlarging the role of the state governments and pruning the top-heavy planning machinery in New Delhi, as many as nine full-time members have been appointed to the commission. Many of them are likely to remain under-employed. The prime minister might have done better if he had opted for a more compact and technically competent Planning Commission. Going by the first pronouncements of the new members of the Planning Commission, the emphasis in Yojana Bhavan, in addition to the dismantling of what is called the top- heavy planning machinery and the technical work associated with it in New Delhi, will be on giving a broad social welfare orientation to the planning exercise and on determining plan priorities on that basis. But the question of mobilisation of resources for this purpose does not appear to be receiving attention; this problem is being treated casually. It is also not quite clear whether the Planning Commission will be able or will be allowed to play an influential role in the formulation of economic policies. It is really for the prime minister to invest the Planning Commission with the necessary prestige and authority to play a meaningful role in the socio-economic development process. Failing that, powerful ministers in the union government will not treat the commission with much respect and will not brook its interference in their affairs. As matters stand, the status and role of the Planning Commission are uncertain. This position will not improve merely by making the commission a statutory body.


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