Chapter 20
The National Plans

IT WOULD be difficult for any Englishman, even if he were a thorough-going Socialist, to understand the place that comprehensive, economic planning now occupies in the minds of Indian politicians and administrators. The necessity of planning has indeed become a dogma and anybody rash enough to question it, or to suggest that, in the long run, unfettered private enterprise might produce better results, would at once be labelled a reactionary and regarded as lacking in social conscience. The foundation of the dogma is the belief that, with a planned economy, India can, within a decade or so, raise her productive capacity to that of Western countries and yet avoid the social evils which accompanied the Industrial Revolution in Europe. India has rejected the doctrine that inequality is the condition of progress, and aims simultaneously at an expansion of production and an equitable distribution of wealth. In the First Five-year Plan the Planning Commission thus expounded its philosophy. 'In the industrially advanced countries, broadly speaking, the emphasis of planning is on a correction of the shortcomings of the system of private enterprise through changes which would secure a more equal distribution of the benefits of economic development. For countries relatively underdeveloped, the problem is to promote rapid development and, at the same time, to see that the benefits of this development accrue to all classes of the community. The last half-century has witnessed a widening of social ideals. The economic system is now expected to provide, in increasing measure, freedom from want and from insecurity, not to a few but to all. The problem of economic development under modern conditions has, therefore, a social complexion quite different from the one that countries, say, in the nineteenth century had to face. First, there is now a greater sense of urgency; secondly, there is a greater awareness of, and insistence on, certain basic values. Economic progress is therefore

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