Social Scientist. v 11, no. 126 (Nov 1983) p. 34.


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SANJAYA BARU^

Self-Reliance to Dependence in Indian Economic Development

THE POST-WAR PERIOD (i e, since the 1940's) has been called the Era of Decolonisation. From Asia through Africa and Latin America scores of nations, big and small, have been liberated from the shackles of colonial imperialist domination. Several developments—economic, political and military—have helped to make this possible and, indeed, necessary. The decline of the Empire in India was hastened not only on account of developments internal to India but also on account of the rapidly changing international context in which colonies were asserting their strength against the imperial powers and inter-imperialist rivalries, on the one hand, and the increasing influence of the Socialist camp, on the other, forced tlie imperial powers to concede political independence to these colonies.

It is in this context that countries like India emerged as sovereign, independent nations, proud of tlieir indigenous capabilities and pledged to rid themselves of the curse of dependence. "Self-reliance55, therefore, became an integral part of that pledge and a jealously guarded principle of independence. It was for this very reason that there in fact emerged a national consensus on the goal of self-reliance. As early as 1940 the National Planning Committee of the Indian National Congress stressed the importance of self-reliance and of "planning" in the context of independent economic development in India. It recognised the infancy of the Indian industry and the need to protect it from external competition; it recognised the important role that the state could and should play in providing the wherewithal for rapid industrial and agricultural growth.

In other words, it was recognised fairly clearly even before 1947 that if India became independent the state would have to play an important role in the economic development programme and that this programme would be based on "self-reliance". What this meant was that the twin features of economic development in post-independence India, as conceived even on the eve of independence, were "self-reliance

*Department of Economics, University ofHydrabad.



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