Sitaram Yachuri’s Concern for Development

Lately, Hindustan Times regularly publishes Sitaram Yachuri’s lead articles on editorial page. He is an intelligent leftist and many of his arguments are really worth attention. In a recent article, he wrote about the development of Gujarat.

“Despite the tom-toming of a vibrant Gujarat (a la the BJP’s ‘Shining India’ campaign), the fact remains that Gujarat is one of the most indebted states in the country. Its public debt to GDP ratio is a whopping 28.5 per cent. According to official figures (widely believed to be a gross understatement), over 500 farmers in the state have committed suicide. This is primarily due to rural indebtedness, which, according to the NSS’ 55th round data, is, at around 40 per cent, widely higher than the national average of 25 per cent. Irrigated area declined by 25 per cent and agricultural production fell by 4.6 per cent during the last five years.

A UN University study reveals that poverty rose to 17 per cent from 12 per cent during this period. Its Human Development Report, 2004, states, “Gujarat has reached only 48 per cent of the goals set for human development.” On the health front, 74.3 per cent of women and 46.3 per cent of children are anaemic. In social sector spending (as a proportion of total expenditure), Gujarat ranks a lowly 19 among 21 major states. On minimum wages, it ranks 8th. Despite the fact that large tracts of the state face a drinking water crisis, the Modi administration diverted $ 255 million to supply water to industries (read: vibrant Gujarat), according to a CAG report.”

I am sure as a member of CPM politburo, he must also be watching at the development of West Bengal. In West Bengal, leftists have been ruling for more than three decades. Further, since 2004, the party has an alliance with the central government. West Bengal gets whatever it asks. And the excuse of centre’s indifference as reasons for no progress can’t hold good any more. I am sure Yachuri must express his concern about the parameters of development in West Bengal. In almost all, West Bengal is in the lower half of the list of states. The left and Yachuri must prove their development model in the left-run state, as it would have been naturally easy for them to implement all their ideas in last 30+ years.

Will Yachuri write another article comparing Gujarat data made available in his article with that of West Bengal and say that West Bengal government under leftists is working miracle? Left also claim that Modi plays in the hands of industrialists. What is the condition in West Bengal? Who are leading the industrial development there? The story of Todi and his influence on the government has got by now a global publicity.

I have at least one data at hand through the media: “Bengal topped the list of suicides with 15,725 suicides, including 6,605 women, compared to 15,015 in 2005 and 13,424 the previous year.” Will Yachuri show his concern about this and see that his government takes some proactive steps?

And now here is an excerptbased on a book RURAL COMMERCIAL CAPITAL AGRICULTURAL MARKETS IN WEST BENGAL by Barbara Harriss-White, that is a serious research:

“The government policy of protecting the local agricultural elite in terms of concessions and privileges (thereby shunting aside petty trade by unlanded or small-time farmers), its inaction in improving infrastructure and technology, and of looking inwards rather than working towards progress, are all direct factors in the historically up-and-down performance of the sector and the widespread poverty in the villages.”

“When Marwaris moved to rural West Bengal to fill the void of trade in agricultural goods, they wisely started small before expanding to the control of trade in wholesale and retail, import, export, stocking and cold storage – basically, the whole market economy shopping list. They did not limit themselves to one type of crop, but diversified to various agricultural commodities. They have continued to pullulate their large share of the aggregate agricultural production and supply, as well as land ownership, trade privileges and feudal power. The deeply-rooted establishment of the Marwari business community is exemplified by their representation in the board of the Bengal Rice Millers’ Association – two-thirds are Marwaris.”

I wish the whole lot of smart politburo members of CPM including Karats and Yachuuri try seriously to prove their ideologies of Marxism to improve the living conditions of those at the bottom of the pyramid so that the rest of India can benchmark it. However, if they have failed, they at least must allow the people of India to go ahead to attain the goal of prosperity through the model our intelligent and serious economists are trying to go for.

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