CHAPTER 7

 

Learning From Experience

 

            A variety of factors have collectively contributed to the persistence of human poverty – and to the failure to fulfillment of the constitutional commitments in terms of assuring people of their social and economic rights.  Economic policy matters, but so does the nature of governance, the degree of people’s participation especially of people of deprived and disadvantaged categories, the capacity of civil society organizations, the political priorities of the State, the quality of decision-making, public provisioning of basic social services, the effectiveness of legislation, the empowerment of women, the Scheduled Castes the Scheduled Tribes and backward classes and the care of the environment,.  All these factors are closely inter-woven, and many have their roots in entrenched beliefs, social customs, historical happenings, cultural traditions and perceptions of equality and social injustice.  A  few lessons, however, can be gleaned from the Indian experience of the last fifty years.

 

7.2       Getting priorities right

 

             How well a nation does economically depend amongst others upon how educated and healthy its people are.  There are several such examples. Every nation in the South East Asia that has achieved rapid economic growth and prosperity has its people educated and reasonably healthy. If India remains a poor country, it is largely because of the failure to invest in health and to universalize elementary education.

 

7.2.2        Within India, Kerala, the only State that has achieved levels of social development comparable to any industrial country, has recorded the maximum reductions in income poverty in the last decade.

 

7.2.3         What matters ultimately is how secure people are.  This is what Mahbub ul Haq described as ‘human security’

 

“Human security is not a concern with weapons.  It is a concern with human dignity.  In the last analysis, it is a child who did not die, a disease that did not spread, an ethnic tension that did not explode, a human spirit that was not crushed.”

Karnataka and Korea : Similarities and Dissimilarities

 

Both Karnataka and Republic of Korea have a similar population size.  But that is where the similarity ends.  Per capita income is more than 20 times higher in Korea than in Karnataka.   With Karnataka leading the information technology boom, prospects do exist for a dramatic economic expansion.  But the key questions are: Will this be possible?  Will it be sustained?  If Korea has done well, it is because the country has ensured almost universal literacy and good health to its people.  Today, life expectancy at birth among women in Korea is 11 years higher than in Karnataka and the infant mortality rate 10 times lower.  The female literacy rate in Korea is 95%, whereas it is only 44% in Karnataka.  If Karnataka aspires to become an economic power like Korea, the State must assign top priority to investing in its people – in their health, nutrition and education.

7.2.4        Human security is to be interpreted as security of people, not just territory.  It has to do with the security of individuals, not just nations.  It is concerned with the security of all people everywhere – in their homes, in their jobs, in their streets, in their communities, in their environment.  It calls for security through development, not through arms.

 

7.3       Not By Growth Alone

 

             Generally speaking, larger incomes are associated with higher levels of social development.  But the linkages are not always obvious. Kerala, for instance, has achieved relatively high levels of social development even at a low level of income.  Life expectancy among women in Kerala is 11 years higher than in Haryana – much richer State in terms of per capita income.  Similarly, there is no easily predictable relationship between income levels and the percentage of literate women in different States.  In 1997-98, for example, West Bengal reported a per capita State Domestic Product of Rs. 8,491 – similar to Himachal Pradesh (Rs. 8,747).  However, whereas 27% of married women in the age group of 15-49 years were illiterate in Himachal Pradesh, the proportion was 43% in West Bengal.

7.3.2        Again, women in both rich and poor States face similar unfreedoms. The female-to-male ratio is the lowest in Punjab and Haryana – two of India’s most prosperous States. Millions of girls, in both rich and poor families, are denied the opportunity to pursue education or seek employment or even step out of their homes without permission.  Many are denied the freedom to voice their opinions, take decisions relating to their marriage, or even decide how many children they should have.   The position in respect of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes which constitute the bulk of India’s population has been dealt in Chapter 9.  Even, urban and metropolitan cities that seem by far more affluent than the rural villages suffer from much higher levels of air pollution and congestion.

 

Table  7.1

Average Rate Of Growth Of Per Capita Income

 

 

Percentage Of Growth Of Per Capita Income

 

1980-81 to

1990-91

1991-92 to

1997-98

States Where Growth Is Accelerating

Gujarat

3.08

7.57

Maharashtra

3.58

6.13

West Bengal

2.39

5.04

Tamil Nadu

3.87

4.95

Kerala

2.19

4.52

Combined SDP of 14 states

3.03

4.02

Rajasthan

3.96

3.96

Madhya Pradesh

2.08

3.87

Andhra Pradesh

3.34

3.45

Karnataka

3.28

3.45

States Where Growth Is Decelerating

Punjab

3.33

2.80

Haryana

3.86

2.66

Orissa

2.38

1.64

Uttar Pradesh

2.60

1.24

Bihar

2.45

1.12

 

7.3.3        India is among the few developing countries that has since 1951, with the exception of four years, recorded a positive growth in its GNP (see Figure 6.1). In fact, after the initiation of economic reforms in 1991, growth has accelerated  - nationally and in most of the States.

Figure  7.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


7.3.4        But despite the positive growth record, there has not been a perceptible and significant improvement in the quality of people’s lives.  For instance, there has been a marked slowing down in the rate of reductions in infant mortality in recent years.

 

 

Figure 7.2

 

FIGURE  25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.3.5        Again, despite the better growth record in recent years, progress in bridging gender gaps has been slow. Between 1991 and 1997, literacy gaps between women and men has hardly been bridged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table  7.2

Excess Of Male Over Female Literacy Rates (1991-97)

 

States

Excess Of Male Literacy Percentage Over Female Literacy Percentage

Increase or Decrease

1991

1997

Tripura

21

12

9

Karnataka

23

16

7

Himachal Pradesh

23

17

6

Mizoram

7

1

6

Haryana

29

24

5

Punjab

15

10

5

Sikkim

19

14

5

Manipur

24

20

4

Assam

19

16

3

Goa

17

14

3

Maharashtra

24

21

3

Meghalaya

8

5

3

Tamil Nadu

23

20

3

West Bengal

21

18

3

Bihar

30

28

2

Jammu and Kashmir

25

23

2

Orissa

28

26

2

Uttar Pradesh

30

28

2

Andhra Pradesh

22

21

1

Arunachal Pradesh

22

21

1

Gujarat

24

23

1

Kerala

7

6

1

Madhya Pradesh

30

29

1

Nagaland

13

14

-1

Rajasthan

35

38

-3

India

25

23

2

 

 

 

 

                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Census of India and NSSO (53rd Round)

 

 

7.3.6        Dr. Amartya Sen in his book “Development as Freedom” has pointed out that negative linkage between female literacy and fertility appears to be, on the whole empirically well founded.  Such connections have been widely observed in other countries also, and it is not suprising that they should emerge in India.

                                               

7.3.7        Similarly, there has been only a marginal improvement in access to basic health care between 1992-93 and 1998-99.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 7.3

Improvements In Child Immunization Coverage Between

The Year 1992-93 And 1998-99

 

 

States

Increase in percentage of  fully immunized children (12-23 of age) between 1992-93 & 1998-99

Kerala

25

Tamil Nadu

24

Himachal Pradesh

21

Maharashtra

14

Andhra Pradesh

14

Delhi

12

Punjab

10

West Bengal

10

Haryana

9

Orissa

8

Goa

8

Karnataka

8

Gujarat

3

Uttar Pradesh

1

Bihar

0

Rajasthan

-4

Madhya Pradesh

-7

Jammu and Kashmir

-9

India

7

                     Source: NFHS-1 and NFHS-2

 

The Table reveals that between 1992-93 and 1998-99:

 

·         Immunization coverage has worsened in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan despite the fact that there has been acceleration in growth of per-capita income in both  States.

·         Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, two of the most populous but poor health States, have recorded practically no improvement in immunization coverage.

·         Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh have done the best in terms of expanding immunization coverage.

 

7.3.8        What matters is not the quantum and pace of growth, but its quality.  First and foremost, priority must be given to how growth is generated. Economic growth should not impoverish the poor, should not continue or worsen social inequality, adversely affect the environment, and lead to a further deterioration in the quality of daily life.  Policies are needed that will ensure a more equitable distribution of the benefits of growth – across States, between different communities and between social categories. Similarly, priority must also be given to ensure adequate provisioning of basic social services and infrastructure for ensuring greater connectivity to people in remote areas.

 

Snapping Of Vital Link Between Growth And Human Development 

 

Situations in which growth may not result in human development are –

 

q       Jobless growth - overall economy grows but does not expand the opportunities for employment.

q       Ruthless growth - where the fruits of economic growth mostly benefit the rich, leaving millions of people struggling in poverty.

q       Voiceless growth - where growth in the economy is not accompanied by an extension of democracy or people's empowerment.

q       Rootless growth – where growth causes people's cultural identity to wither.

q       Futureless growth - where the present generation squanders resources needed by future generations. 

 

         Source: Human Development Report 1996

 

7.3.9        There are many ways in which economic growth can be harnessed to improve human development.  One way is to make economic growth broad‑based and employment‑intensive. For human development to occur, people must become active agents of change, not merely passive beneficiaries.  They must be allowed to actively participate in generating growth and shaping its direction.  This involves providing to people basic economic and political freedoms.  Economic growth must be sustainable if it is to advance human development.  Mining nature and undermining natural support systems pit present human development against any future human development.

 

 

7.4    Ensuring Universal Access To Basic Social Services

 

             At the centre of empowerment and of development efforts are investments in basic human capabilities - in primary education, primary health care, nutrition programmes, family planning and essential physical infrastructure, such as housing, electricity and roads.  Lacking these essentials, people experience human poverty. 

 

7.4.2        Ensuring universal access to basic social services lies at the root of assuring every citizen a decent standard of living.  In India, much of the human poverty can be attributed to a failure to assign a high priority to it.  There is serious under-provisioning and overall shortage of good quality and affordable social services.  Millions of children are out of school largely because the State has failed to provide good quality basic education.  Several thousands of women die during childbirth simply because reproductive health care services are just not adequate.  Millions of households do not have access to safe drinking water despite the claim of extensive physical coverage.  The situation with respect to sanitation is worse still.

 

7.4.3        A feature of India’s development has been the over-emphasis on physical expansion.  The consequence has been a serious neglect of quality issues – be it in health, education or access to drinking water. It is claimed that close to 95%  population has access to a primary school within a walking distance of one kilometre.  Several studies have, however, pointed out, of course, that many of the school buildings are crumbling, they lack basic teaching materials, classrooms are over-crowded, and very little teaching activity takes place there during the school hours.  The quality of basic education remains poor. 

 

7.4.4        Similarly, there has been a physical expansion in the provisioning of primary health care services.  But the ability of the public health system to cater to the needs of the poor remains low.  The primary health care centres typically lack even minimal facilities, the staff is poorly trained and the quality of health care delivered is poor.  As a result, even the poor are forced to often seek health care from less-qualified and exploitative private practitioners.

 

7.4.5        The reach of India’s public health care system is extremely limited.  And despite the acceleration in growth after 1991, progress remains slow.  For example, despite the pledge to ensure universal immunization coverage for all children, a recent survey in 1998-99 found that only 42% of children between the ages  of 12-23 months were fully immunized – up from 35% in 1992-93.  In Bihar, the proportion has remained unchanged at 11% between 1992-93 and 1998-99.

 

 

7.4.6        Special efforts are needed to pay attention to women’s health needs.  Even something as basic as ensuring women safe access to delivery has been poor.  In 1992-93, only 34% of all deliveries were attended to by a health professional.  The proportion varied from 19% in Bihar to 90% in Kerala.   The improvement over the past 5 years has been insignificant.  In 1998-99, only 43% of deliveries were attended to by a health professional. 

 

 

Table  7.4

Per Cent Of Births Attended By A Health Professional

 

 

1992-93

1998-99

Change

India

34

43

8

 

 

 

 

North

 

 

 

Delhi

53

67

14

Haryana

30

42

12

Himachal Pradesh

26

40

15

Jammu and Kashmir

31

43

12

Punjab

48

63

14

Rajasthan

22

36

14

Central

 

 

 

Madhya Pradesh

30

30

0

Uttar Pradesh

17

22

5

East

 

 

 

Bihar

19

24

5

Orissa

21

34

13

West Bengal

33

44

11

West

 

 

 

Goa

88

91

3

Gujarat

43

54

11

Maharashtra

53

59

6

South

 

 

 

Andhra Pradesh

49

65

16

Karnataka

51

59

8

Kerala

90

95

5

Tamil Nadu

71

84

13

         Source: NFHS-1 and NFHS-2

 

 

7.5    Rationalize Public Spending

                       

             Public spending has played an important role in India’s poverty reduction.  The marked decline in income poverty from the mid 1970s to the end of the 1980s was a period when public expenditures rose sharply. Between 1976 and early eighties, real per capita development expenditure increased at an annual rate of 6%.  It was also a period that coincided with declaration of an increased political commitment to poverty eradication, and the introduction of several new anti-poverty programmes.   Nationalised banks were required to assign 40% of their lending to priority sectors – small farmers, small businesses and artisans.  New employment-creation and asset generation programmes were introduced.  The period also witnessed a substantial increase in rural non-agricultural employment, and real wages went up sharply.

 

7.5.2        Government expenditures on poverty alleviation appear to have strong “trickle down” characteristics, much more distinctly than income growth.  Practically all States that have succeeded in reducing income poverty have made sizeable investments in poverty alleviation programmes.  The size of government spending matters, and so does the efficiency of spending.  It cannot be denied that leakage, wastage, corruption and inefficiency greatly reduce the impact on poverty reduction.   The enormous scope that exists for improving the efficiency of public spending shows the potential that exists for rapidly reducing human poverty with significant improvements in the implementation and management of development programmes. 

 

7.5.3        Some recent trends in public spending on poverty alleviation are however disturbing.  Between 1990-91 and 1996-97, the Central Government expenditure as a percentage of GDP at current market prices went down from 18.1% to 14.3%.  During this period, however, Central Government expenditure on social sectors (comprising education, health and family welfare, water supply, sanitation, housing, social welfare, nutrition, rural employment and minimum basic services) as a ratio to total expenditure increased from 7.7% to 10.5%.   Real development expenditure per capita by the States went up from Rs.207 in 1980-81 to Rs.367 in 1995-96.  However, what is worrisome is that during this period, development expenditure as a multiple of non-development expenditures fell from 3.2 in 1980-81 to 2.1 in 1995-96.

 

 

7.5.4        Reliable information on the total level of investments in India is published, but similar data across Indian States is not available.  In the absence of State level data on investment, attention is paid to the size of the State plans.  The Table below presents the average ratio of plan expenditure to State Domestic Product in the 1980s and during the 1990s.

 

 

Table  7.5

Ratio Of Plan Expenditure To SDP

 

States

Average 1980-81 to 1990-91

Average 1987-88 to 1997-98

Difference

Bihar

6.2

2.9

-3.3

Rajasthan

5.9

6.5

+0.7

Uttar Pradesh

6.3

4.6

-1.8

Orissa

7.4

7.1

-0.3

Madhya Pradesh

7.4

5.0

-2.4

Andhra Pradesh

5.7

4.3

-1.4

Tamil Nadu

6.2

4.6

-1.6

Kerala

5.2

5.0

-0.2

Karnataka

5.6

6.5

-0.9

West Bengal

3.6

2.7

-0.9

Gujarat

6.5

4.5

-2.0

Haryana

6.4

3.9

-2.5

Maharashtra

5.7

4.0

-1.7

Punjab

5.6

3.9

-1.7

All 14 states

5.7

4.5

-1.2

Source: Planning Commission

 

7.5.5        Taking all 14 States together, there has been a decline in State plan expenditures.  And this perhaps conceals an even greater decline in investment for new capacity as much of the increase is in the revenue component of the plan.  With the exception of Rajasthan where there has been a marginal increase, there has been a decline in the levels of plan expenditure in every other State.  The drop is the largest in Bihar.

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 7.3


 

 


7.5.6        The state of public finance in India, despite the accelerating growth, low inflation and reasonable foreign exchange reserves situation, remains a source of concern.  India’s fiscal deficit is among the highest in the world - between 5-6% of GDP.  The combined deficit of the Central and State Governments, after declining from 9.2% in 1990-91 to 6.8% in 1993-94,  rose to 8.5% in 1998-99.

 

7.5.7        Bulk of social sector spending comes from State Government revenues.  However, the fiscal situation of most States is not good.  Many face severe deficits. The pressure from the Central Government to reduce these deficits is even greater.  This typically translates into State Governments cutting down their spending on social sectors - at a most inappropriate time.  Indeed, it is only when the State invests in the social sectors - in health and education - that there is any possibility of sustaining a more equitable and higher economic growth rate in the years to come. 

 

7.5.8        The preoccupation with managing the fiscal deficit as a goal in itself is resulting in many instances of lower allocations to the social sector.  Unfortunately, the State Governments do not realize the impact of such cutbacks on human development.  Many policy makers in fact see this as an opportunity for government to abdicate its responsibility towards assuring citizens of their basic human rights.

 

7.5.9        There has also been a corresponding weakening of state fiscal performance in the 1990s.  The States adjusted only marginally to the crisis of 1991, almost exclusively by cutting capital expenditures and human development spending between 1991-92 and 1993-94. For instance, total expenditure of the Central and State Governments on social services and rural development declined from 9.1 percent of GDP in 1989-90 to 8.7 percent in 1994-95.  The poor and other socially disadvantaged groups are worst affected by such cuts.  The combined deficit of the States has also gone up from 3.2% to 3.6% between 1991-99.  In 1998-99, the States’ budget deficit worsened below the level of 1990-91, and is likely to continue unless a serious effort is made to check it.  Between 1993-94 and 1997-98, the fiscal deficit rose in Uttar Pradesh from 4.5% of state GDP to 8.6%; in Bihar from 4% to 6.2%; in Orissa from 5.7% to 6.3%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table  7.6

 

Financial Situation of the States (1980-81 Base)

 

S.

No

States

Fiscal deficit as % of State GDP

Debt as % of State GDP

1991

1998

Difference

1991

1998

Difference

1

Gujarat

6.4

3.3

-3.1

22.3

17.9

-4.4

2

Punjab

6.6

4.3

-2.3

36.3

32.5

-3.8

3

Maharashtra

2.5

2.4

-0.1

15.5

13.3

-2.2

4

Haryana

2.8

2.7

-0.1

20.7

19.8

-0.9

5

Karnataka

2.4

2.4

0.0

19.9

20.1

0.2

6

Tamil Nadu

3.6

3.3

-0.3

17.6

18.8

1.2

7

Madhya Pradesh

3.3

3.2

-0.1

21.4

22.6

1.2

8

Orissa

5.7

6.3

0.6

41.6

43.0

1.4

9

Andhra Pradesh

2.8

3.0

0.2

19.5

21.5

2.0

10

West Bengal

4.7

5.6

0.9

22.6

25.1

2.5

11

Kerala

5.7

7.3

1.6

31.5

34.8

3.3

12

Rajasthan

2.6

4.9

2.3

27.7

31.9

4.2

13

Uttar Pradesh

4.5

8.6

4.1

25.6

30.9

5.3

14

Bihar

4.0

6.2

2.2

34.9

42.0

7.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.5.10       The large and growing fiscal deficit is imposing several pressures on the patterns of public spending.

 

·         The stock of debt has been growing and with it the interest burden. Total interest payments in 1991-92 were Rs. 26,596 crores – 53% of net tax revenue.   Growing interest payments are crowding out development expenditures both at the Centre and in the States.

 

·         As a result of the deficits, poorer States have become highly indebted.  Between 1991 and 1998, the debt-to-state GDP ratio went up in Uttar Pradesh from 26% to 31%, in Bihar from 35% to 42%, and in Orissa from 41% to 43%.  The debt-to-SDP ratio between 1991 – 1997 improved only for 4 States: Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat.  Per capita debt between 1991-98, however has gone up in all 14 States: from a low of 6% in Punjab to over 40% in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

 

·         Traditionally, the Centre’s deficit has been much more than that of the States.  In 1994-95, for instance, the Centre’s deficit was 6% of GDP whereas it was only 2.8% for the States.  However there are signs that the States are catching up with the Centre particularly with the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission’s awards.

 

 

7.5.11       Equally worrisome is the increasing debt situation of the States as the Table 9.7 shows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 7.7

Debt Situation Of The States

State

Interest Payments As % Of Total Revenue

 

1980-81

1990-91

1996-97

 

Bihar

10.84

17.44

17.62

Rajasthan

10.59

13.66

20.54

Uttar Pradesh

8.29

15.38

25.33

Orissa

8.10

16.79

25.17

Madhya Pradesh

6.82

11.28

13.74

Andhra Pradesh

6.45

11.02

16.42

Tamil Nadu

7.11

8.95

12.33

Kerala

7.11

14.17

17.95

Karnataka

6.54

11.19

12.55

West Bengal

9.97

15.25

23.58

Gujarat

6.68

15.72

16.65

Haryana

8.04

12.64

11.83

Maharashtra

5.41

10.12

12.70

Punjab

10.93

16.81

29.35

All 14 states

7.34

13.12

17.56

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        

 

                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Planning Commission 

 

7.5.12       Interest payments constituted 7.3% in 1980-81 of the combined states’ revenue.  This increased to 17.5% in 1996-97.  More than 25% of state revenue is now allocated for interest payments in Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. 

 

7.5.13       The fiscal squeeze almost immediately threatens capital spending and  social sector expenditures.  Public expenditure on education, for instance, came down from 3.7% of GNP in 1986-87 to 3.2% in 1995-96.

 

7.5.14       All this is going hand-in-hand with a decline in public expenditure on social sectors.

 

 

Table  7.8

Index Of Per Capita Public Expenditure On Social

Services (1981-82 Prices)

 

Group of States

1990-91

1991-92

1992-93

1993-94

1994-95

 

Health*

 

 

 

 

 

    Poor States

100

96

95

102

97

    Middle income 

    states

100

94

93

99

98

    Rich States

100

96

97

97

96

    All States

100

95

94

100

97

Education

 

 

 

 

 

    Poor States

100

90

92

87

91

    Middle income

    States

100

95

94

99

99

    Rich States

100

101

100

104

104

    All States

100

95

95

95

97

All social services**

 

 

 

 

 

    Poor States

100

94

93

92

93

    Middle income

    States

100

96

93

97

97

    Rich States

100

99

98

100

101

    All States

100

96

95

96

97

 

Notes: Poor States include Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.  Middle income States include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.  Rich States include Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra and Punjab.

 

*  includes medical and public health.

** includes, inter alia, education, health, housing and urban development and

    social welfare.

 Source: Tulasidhar (1997) quoted in UNDP (1997).

 

7.5.14       The conversion of growth into human development is mediated to a large extent by the levels and patterns of public expenditures. How secure people of a nation feel depends upon the levels of public investments in social sector – and also on the efficiency and effectiveness of spending.  Some may argue that it is not the additional financial resources that are needed, but greater efficiency for securing necessary social services for all citizens. No doubt, there is an urgent need to plug all leakage, and to ensure the value of the money spent. The reality however, is that both are needed – more resources and better returns on spending.  It is difficult, for instance, to see how laws can be better enforced unless more is spent on law enforcement and streamlining the legal system.  It is difficult to see how all children can go to school and acquire good quality education unless, in addition to improving the efficiency of spending, the State also allocates more financial resources to education. 

 

7.5.15       One could argue that the low investments are actually a reflection of the lack of financial resources in these countries.  But several studies have repeatedly pointed out that it is not a question of resources.  It is a matter of priorities.  Kerala, for instance, has ensured high levels of social development without necessarily having a high per capita income.  There are always difficult trade-offs in any situation – but the guiding concern should be the well-being of the poorest.

 

 

7.6   Greater Inclusion And Participation

 

             Why do people in India enjoy unequal access to opportunities – or for that matter, even to basic education and health services?  Part of the answer lies in the inadequate provisioning of basic social services.  But much of the unequal access to basic social services is due to exclusion of many stakeholders from processes of decision making.  There is urgent need for greater inclusion and participation of many groups – stakeholders, women, citizens belonging to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and backward classes, minorities, etc.  When there is representation of different interest groups in the process of collective decision making, democracy begins to function effectively. 

 

7.6.2        Decentralization is typically justified on the grounds of efficiency – that it will improve the functioning of schools and primary health care centres, that the patterns of investment will correspond more closely to the needs of the people, and that it is easier to monitor progress and take corrective action at the local level.  But an equally important reason for supporting decentralization is that it opens up many opportunities for increased participation by stakeholders. 

 

Do Authoritarian Policies Help in  To Economic Growth ?

 

  “….there is little evidence that authoritarian politics actually helps in economic growth.  Indeed, the empirical evidence very strongly suggests that economic growth is more a matter of a friendlier economic climate than of a harsher political system.”

 

“It is sometimes argued that in a poor country, it would be a mistake to worry too much about the unaccessability of coercion – a luxury that only the rich countries can “afford” – and that poor people are not really bothered by coercion.  It is not at all clear on what evidence this argument is based.  The people who suffer most from these coercive measures – who are brutally forced to do things they do not want to do – are often among the poorest and least privileged in the society”.

-Dr.Amartya Sen

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


7.6.3        It is important for policy makers to realize that the success in implementation of programmes can come only when people co-operate – not when they are forced to do something that they detest.  Co-operation – and not coercion – in all important national endeavours is the golden key for ensuring results and achieving goals.  This lesson has been learnt the difficult way in implementation of family planning programme to achieve population stabilization during Emergency in mid seventies.  Coercive measures taken during Emergency so as to ensure success of family planning goals not only were utter failure but also proved to be counter-productive.  The political and human wounds of those measures are yet to  heal completely. How family  planning  statistics were falsified in those days to achieve chased targets,  is now a matter of common knowledge. 

 

From Alcoholism to Affluence: Case of the Ralegan Siddhi Village*

 

            Local initiative and effective participation can change the destiny is revealed by the success story of  Ralegan Siddhi – a village in a drought prone area where even raising a crop a year used to be a matter of chance.  The village was in the grip of chronic poverty with each family hardly having one acre of land to itself.  The yields from agriculture were poor and it could hardly meet 30% of its requirements.  Around 15 to 20% of the families were undernourished.  The villagers regularly availed of state – sponsored drought relief measures in the summer.  The village was in the grip of money lenders and country-made liquor.

 

Initiative of a retired jeep driver of Indian Army led to participatory decision making in the village.  A democratic institution - the Gram Sabha - was created to take community decisions.  Fourteen other committees were also formed to ensure greater people’s participation.  Watershed decisions were undertaken only after those were discussed in the Gram Sabha.  Equitable access to the resources generated was ensured and water distributed equitably.  Initially, as water availability was low, only crops requiring little water were planted.  All farmers got water in turn, and a second irrigation was possible only after the first round was over.  As commons belonged to all, even the landless families, about five in all, got their share of water

 

Sense of ownership made people to contribute with their money and labour for the success of the projects.  Villagers constructed storage ponds, reservoirs and gully plugs.  Due to the steady percolation of water, ground water levels rose.  Lands that were lying fallow became fit for cultivation due to the availability of irrigation water.  Area under cultivation increased from 630 hectares to 950 hectares.   The average yield of millets, sorghum and onion increased substantially.  Simultaneously 300,000 – 400,000 trees were planted making use of social forestry scheme of the Government.  As a result of these measures farmers now grow 2-3 crops per year, yielding fruits and vegetables, which are exported to as far as middle east.  Incomes have increased substantially and not a single inhabitant of the village depends on drought relief.  Over 25% household earn over of a million rupees a year.  Village has become so rich that a branch of a major bank has been set up in it.  The total savings in the village is rupees 13 million.  Indeed a miracle has happened !

*  Based on a case study cited in Globalization :  The United Nations Development Dialogue (1998)

 

                                               

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.6.4        The suggestion that coercion and an authoritarian approach is what will get us the quickest results in terms of population stabilization and that India should emulate China that has enforced a one-child policy for almost two decades now is riddled with several problems and is, in fact, self-defeating. First, even in China, the coercive population policy went hand-in-hand with a broad and equitable expansion of social and economic opportunities for women – the proven way to reduce population growth. It is, therefore,  not entirely clear as to how much of China’s fertility decline can actually be attributed to the one-child policy. Second, enforcing such coercive measures may be possible in an authoritarian country like China, but such measures are likely to have disastrous political consequences in a democracy.  Third, in countries of South Asia and even in China for that matter, where there is a strong  preference for sons, such restrictions will inevitably promote further discrimination against girl children. Instances of female foeticide and even female infanticide are likely to increase.  And finally, why should coercion be used when there exists a well-proven alternative route of investing in social development and people’s capabilities?  Bangladesh and Indonesia have been able to lower their fertility rates without use of coercion. Within India itself, we have Kerala’s example – a State that has invested well in people’s health and education.  And the social development route yields very quick results.  Kerala, in fact, had a higher fertility than China in 1979, but by 1991, its fertility rate of 1.9 was lower than China’s 2.0.  And now, Bangladesh has shown that it is possible to reduce fertility rates rapidly without use of any coercion – by empowering women, educating people and improving access to reproductive health care

 

7.6.5        Lessons learnt, the new population policy announced in 2000 rightly denounces use of coercion and instead argues for women’s empowerment, decentralization, greater education, and better and more access to safe contraceptive choices, as the way to lower India’s birth rates.  .  People participation and co-operation in provision of universal primary education, ensuring quality of education, health care and indeed in all important national endeavours is essential for their success..

 

Enable People : IT Works*

 

            A mere assurance from the Forest Department to the villagers of Sukhomajri that they would have the right to the usufruct of the degraded forest land proved to be a boon for the villagers of Sukhomajri.  In less than 10 years, village got transformed from a small hamlet with sparse vegetation, poor agriculture and high levels of soil erosion and run off to a village with the distinction of being the first village in India paying the income tax on the income from the ecological regeneration of its degraded watershed.

 

In 1979, in the face of a severe drought, a small tank was constructed by the villagers to capture rainfall.  More tanks were built later on.  A village level Institution - Hill Resource Management Society consisting of one Member from every household in the village and with an agreed framework for the fair distribution of the resources thus generated – water, gross and wood-amongst all the household, undertook the job of the watershed protection.  It also protected the heavily degraded forest around the catchments  area of the tanks.  Between 1977 and 1986, these measures led to :

 

q       Increase in wheat productivity from 0.61 tonnes per hectare to 1.22 tonnes per hectare;

q       Increase in grass (used to make ropes for beds and as a pulping material for paper mills) production from 40 kg. per hectare to 11.43 tonnes per hectare;

q       Increase in the number of buffaloes from 79 to 291 and decrease in the number of goats from 246 to 10; showing a shift in livestock pattern from the lowly goat to the more rewarding and environment friendly cattle; 

q       Rise in the tree density from 13 to 1,292 per hectare (the worth of wood in trees is estimated to have increased to Rs. 900 millions.  If the forest is harvested on a sustainable basis, its yields are estimated at  Rs. 30 millions annually.  The trees also produce  valuable condiment used with betel leaves and if this is commercially sold, villagers can earn an estimated Rs. 36 million from its sale).

q       Substantially higher household incomes and villagers instead of thatched mud house now live in a birch and cement dwellings and possess items like bicycles, radio sets, electric fans, sewing machines and TV sets;

q       The return on investment from this project has been estimated to be of the order of 19% annually;

q       Impressive savings amounting to Rs. 7.56 million annually have been achieved on public expenditure on desilting operations as the flow of sediment came down by 90%.

 

*  Based on a case study cited in Globalization :  The United Nations Development Dialogue (1998)