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PDF Version - Economic and Political Weekly
SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961
THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY
A South Asian Image of India
K Krishna Moorthy
The author, back from a tour of Burma, Thailand, Malay a, Singapore and Indonesia,
discussions with planning Ministers, officials and economists, has
revealing
remarks
to make
seeming indifference to her South Asian neighbours.
where he had
about
India's
More than one South Asian political leader told h i m , he says, that India 'was 'so keen to develop a selfcontained economy and was so steeped in her self-righteousness' that, she seemed to care little whether she
was isolated politically and economically from the rest of South Asia.
He adds, "Few, if any, are impressed by India's advertisement of her poverty in terms of a low per
capita income: they view India as rich in terms of her total Rs 12,000-crore investment in the Third PlanWhat about an amount, equal to one per cent of this, for aid to others? China has received far less foreign
economic assistance than India,
Against Rs 400 crores received by her, China has allotted more than Rs 600
crores for aiding less developed nations.
"An Indian loan to
Burma,
military assistance to Rangoon or the intensive training of the Indonesian
Air Force (for which Djakarta is, of course, extremely grateful) are passing incidents which are being forgotten as the foreign aid needs of these countries grow. As India has, in their view, 'perfected a system for
extracting foreign aid," some of them are interested in receiving
assistance from
this
country
which* to
their mind, is no longer backward"
O N E day not so long ago, a B u r man in his thirties knocked a
the doors of the I n d i a n Embassy on
Merchant Street,
Rangoon, w i t h a
simple request. The p r o p r i e t o r of
a garage, f a i r l y well settled in busi
ness, he wanted to get himself trained better
for r u n n i n g his
motor
workshop.
He way eager to have a few
months' t r a i n i n g i n a n I n d i a n w o r k
shop; he was
fascinated by
the
earlier t r a i n i n g his brother had
received i n another f i e l d i n I n d i a
He had no academic degrees to his
credit. He had had two offers of
t r a i n i n g u n d e r w r i t t e n by the Japanese but he still wanted to go to
I n d i a . The Burmese
Government
w o u l d not of course allow h i m any
quota of foreign
exchange and he
was in search of an I n d i a n sponsor
who w o u l d pay his expenses. There
was no immediate way, I was told,
in w h i c h the I n d i a n Embassy officials
could accommodate the B u r m a n .
Or, take the instance of M r s
S u m a r i Saleh w h o m I met at Band u n g . W i f e o f a n Indonesian o i l
official, she had been d o i n g remarkable w o r k in the field of children's education,
A l o n g w i t h some
f r i e n d s she had i n i t i a t e d a mother
school movement and in ten years
had t r a i n e d hundreds of women f o r
r u n n i n g nursery schools all over the
Indonesian archipelago. She receives
only token grants
f r o m the Indonesian Education M i n i s t r y and the
greater
p a r t of the
expenses for
t r a i n i n g the mothers is met by
voluntary contributions f r o m friends
and well-wishers.
The Jajasan Bersekolah Pada I b u
movement, as it is called, has so far
led to
the
establishment
of 62
schools, and it p a r t l y
encourages
c h i l d r e n to use their dexterous
hands in creative tasks like papier
mache
w o r k and p a i n t i n g . M r s
Saleh has been to the U n i t e d States
for t r a i n i n g but finds that Western
nursery
school
systems are not
readily adaptable to
conditions in
Indonesia. She thinks that study of
some aspects of the basic education
system in India and the Santiniketan
experiments may be useful to her.
The Indonesian Government does
not permit local currency payments
for air travel and therefore any t r i p
to India w i l l have to be underw r i t t e n by an I n d i a n agency,
Great Curiosity
Or again, take the case of
two
b r i l l i a n t officials in
Burma and
T h a i l a n d , one in
Government service and the other in a bank, both
of w h o m are i n t i m a t e l y associated
with
p l a n n i n g i n their
country.
They both had insatiable curiosity
about I n d i a n plan'ning, p a r t i c u l a r l y
in relation to detailed aspects of
project
implementation in India.
T h e i r interest was 'not in the theoretical
aspects of socialism
and
mixed economy, but in how, for
example, an
inter-state i r r i g a t i o n
project was implemented. Both of
these men, p r o m i n e n t in their respective fields, were under the i m -
1043
pression
that the b i g
projects in
India were to a great extent directly
executed
by
the Public W o r k s
Department, They
were not, for
example, aware that a p u b l i c sector
project in I n d i a was one in w h i c h
a large number of private contractors took part. They were also interested in the w o r k i n g of small i n dustries and co-operatives.
A Burmese M i n i s t e r talked about
the immense difficulties his country
faced in organising b a n k i n g , p a r t i cularly r u r a l b a n k i n g . D r M o h a m med Y a m i n , M i n i s t e r - C h a i r m a n of
the Indonesian
P l a n n i n g Commission,
also elaborated on, and adm i r e d , the Indian experience m
banking.
In both these
countries
India could supply sorely
needed
services of experts but they cannot
afford the I n d i a n level of salaries.
Indonesia has t h r o w n out D u t c h
and adopted English as the second
language, and this offers an opport u n i t y to I n d i a f o r a textbook r a i d
of
Indonesia. Royalty-free p u b l i cation rights for I n d i a n books w i l l
be welcomed in Indonesia.
Chanceries Prove Inadequate
Some
educationists.
connected
w i t h Indonesian universities. would
like to receive f r o m I n d i a n universities and
professors copies of
I n d i a n publications w h i c h provoke
economic and political t h i n k i n g .
They are not t h i n k i n g in terms of
a ceremonial
presentation by
the
Indian
Ambassador of a set of
I n d i a n books but of a
continuous
SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961
THE
1044
ECONOMIC
WEEKLY
SPECIAL NUMBER
JULY
1961
s u p p l y of research papers and books
w h i c h m a y benefit the i n q u i s i t i v e
post-graduate student.
One professor talked of his intereat in b a n k i n g surveys and methods
of m o b i l i s i n g r u r a l savings. ( T h e
operations of I n d i a n chanceries arc
limited
and in
some
instances
foolishly
inadequate. A
London
j o u r n a l i s t t o l d me that even copies
o f the T h i r d Plan D r a f t O u t l i n e
were not available to newspapers in
L o n d o n for weeks after it had been
released last year; this w r i t e r had
requests f r o m two L o n d o n journals
for an a i r m a i l despatch of copies
after
their editors v a i n l y
sought
copies at the H i g h Commission in
London.)
Members of the Indonesian Plann i n g Council, for example, had
made
studies of the two
Indian
plans w h i l e they were d r a f t i n g I n donesia's eight year p l a n . A l t h o u g h
Indonesia is not economically developing into an image of any other
country, its planners are keen on
adopting practices of other countries
and the I n d i a n and Yougoslav examples are popular in some quarters.
THE
their m i n d , is no longer backward.
One South A s i a n M i n i s t e r and two
business m e n
said that their i m pression was that the I n d i a n Finance
M i n i s t e r was adept at p o u r i n g cold
water on even some m i n o r proposals
made by I n d i a n industrialists. The
feeling is that
assistance can be
given by
I n d i a to
some
South
A s i a n countries
largely through
rupee expenditure.
I n d i a has an adverse balance of
trade w i t h Malaya, and a M a l a y
asked whether a large-scale arrangement could not be made by w h i c h
I n d i a could offer extensive t r a i n i n g
facilities to the Malays t h r o u g h expenditure of the trade balance. T h i s
would involve only rupee expenditure.
Indonesia,
e m b a r k i n g upon
huge fertiliser and steel
projects,
needs an
extensive t r a i n i n g
programme. A l t h o u g h Western and
Communist
helpers have
offered
several t r a i n i n g facilities for these
projects, I n d i a could still play a
part,
Indonesian officials suggest.
K r u p p s w i l l get
one of the steel
contracts in Indonesia, and Russians
are b u i l d i n g the major plant.
So
both
Rourkela and B h i l a i can be
used to t r a i n Indonesians at I n d i a n
rupee expense.
T h i s applies to the
nuclear
held too, w i t h
Indonesia
p l a n n i n g three reactors, two
with
Soviet aid and one w i t h A m e r i c a n
aid.
ECONOMIC
WEEKLY
ners. A m o n t h l y digest of I n d i a n
w r i t i n g s on c u l t u r a l , economic and
p o l i t i c a l affairs c o u l d be sent to the
library
o f every
university
in
South Asia.
It is poor consolation to talk of
the ancient
c u l t u r a l ties
between
India and the rest of South Asia or
to mention the fact that the name
of the T h a i Prime M i n i s t e r is Sansk r i t i c in o r i g i n or that the Indonesians use the term ' w a n i t a ' for
women or to flaunt a mass of c l i p pings on the Tagore centenary celebrations all over
South Asia. In
Rangoon I attended the u n v e i l i n g of
a plaque in the office of the G u a r dian'
where
Tagore
had
once
stayed.
In D j a k a r t a there was the staging of the 'Chitra' by a group of
amateurs, mostly Englishmen, and
Dr Y a m i n gave an i l l u m i n a t i n g
address at a Tagore seminar. H o w
much better, as an Indonesian official suggested, w o u l d it have been
to announce on the occasion of the
Tagore centenary celebrations that
the Government of I n d i a w o u l d
underwrite
the
translation
into
Indonesian of a l l the m a j o r w o r k s
of Tagore.
M o r e than one South Asian p o l i tical leader told me that I n d i a was
'so keen to develop a self-contained
Permanent Seminar
economy and was so steeped in her
Dr Khosla. who was u n t i l recentself-righteousness' that she
seemed
ly I n d i a n Ambassador in D j a k a r t a ,
to care l i t t l e whether she was isolatis reputed to have conducted infored p o l i t i c a l l y and economically from
The Indonesians
want the transmal seminars at home in w h i c h
the rest of South Asia, Few, if any,
portation
costs too to be underIndonesians as also others took
are impressed by India's advertisew r i t t e n by the a i d i n g country. An
part.
Not many other diplomats
ment of her poverty in terms of a
India's service f r o m D j a k a r t a could
can be said to have the yen for such
low per capita i n c o m e : they view
perhaps be used
without any nonan enterprise.
I n d i a as r i c h in terms of her total
rupee expenditure.
Rs 12,000-crore
investment in the
It w o u l d be well if an I n d i a n
T h i r d Plan, What about an amount
university were to organise a perNeed of Campaign
equal to one per cent of this for
First and foremost is the need of manent seminar to w h i c h could be
aid to others?
China has received
dissemi- invited the brighter young economic
far less foreign economic assistance a sustained campaign for
nation
of
i
n
f
o
r
m
a
t
i
o
n
on
India's thinkers and administrators f r o m
than
I n d i a has. Against Rs 400
a l l over Asia. Or a private foundaprogress.
The
I
n
d
i
a
n
Embassies
crores received by
China, she has
allotted more than Rs 600 crores for are not suited for this 'idea offensive' t i o n could take over the task of
they have often to remain content accelerating inter-Asian exchanges,
aiding less developed nations.
w i t h ill-equipped
i n f o r m a t i o n ser- not in cultural sallies at teaching
vice libraries and releases to news- Bharata N a t y a m but in more munPassing Incidents
papers.
dane subjects l i k e p l a n n i n g and
An Indian
loan t o B u r m a , m i l i M a n y of the I n d i a n officials in the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n or organisation of
tary assistance to
Rangoon or the
foreign service are not competent #to waterways and soil conservation.
intensive t r a i n i n g of the Indonesia!
answer questions concerning econoA i r Force ( f o r w h i c h D j a k a r t a i s
of course,
extremely grateful) are m i c subjects. T h e p r o p a g a t i o n of
Tailpiece : S h r i
K
Santhanam.
passing incidents w h i c h are
being i n f o r m a t i o n on I n d i a n economic ex- Leader of
the
I n d i a n Railway
cannot be left to
the
forgotten as the foreign aid needs of periments
Mission to M a l a y a , as his netitrn to
r
o
u
t
i
n
e
channels
of
the
d
i
p
l
o
m
a
tic
these countries grow. As I n d i a has,
Madras towards the end of June,
in their view, 'perfected a system f o r service. It m i g h t be better i n i t i a l l y
said,
" I t is heartening to see
direct m a i l i n g
service
e x t r a c t i n g f o r e i g n a i d ' some of them to have a
M
a
l
a
y
s
and
Chinese
celebrating
f
r
o
m
D
e
l
h
i
to
reach
the
professors,
are
interested in receiving assistbankers,
administrators
and
p
l
a
n
Tagore
J
a
y
a
n
t
i
.
"
ance f r o m this
c o u n t r y w h i c h , to
1045
THE
S P E C I A L NUMBER J U L Y 1 9 6 1
1046
ECONOMIC
WEEKLY

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