Regional Disparities in India : A Response
WHILE TRYING to suggest that the problem of regional disparities in India must be seen in a larger context of the mixed economy and tlie prevailing distribution pattern within it, A C Minocha, in his paper, "Regional Disparities in India: Some Basic Issues" (Social Scientist, No 120, May 1983), seems to have been either naive or short of vision. In the second paragraph of this paper he points out that the aggregative and sectoral character of Indian planning is devoid of spatial dimension which, according to him, makes integration of plans at different levels and between sectors difficult. In the para following immediately after this he maintains that it is the highly skewed pattern of asset distribution which underlies the imbalances and distortions in the economy.
While portraying the pattern of spatial organisation in India in the next section, he shows that tremendous variations in rates of urbanisation prevail over the sub-continent with 'growth5 concentrated at the major metropolises and the primate cities while most of the small towns continue to languish with a poor economic base, and thereby suggests, by implication, that the distribution of growth over space should be properly guided through "growth poles", where such centres must be made capable of acting as dynamic centres of growth and change. Having provided a brief portrayal of the extent of regional disparities between states in terms of the disparities in per capita income and in the distribution of manufacturing units, Minocha turns to the last and apparently the most important section of the paper to discuss as to where regional planning stands within the framework of multi-level planning and whatever has happened to this idea since the task force on multi-level planning and spatial analysis was appointed in 1972. Almost instantaneously he proceeds to list a host of items as reasons for the failure or lack of success of regional planning, ranging from no attempts to regionalise the country for purposes of planning to the states themselves lacking the necessary planning machinery. By way of identifying areas, he reiterates the need for area plans, decentralisation of plan formulations at lower levels such as districts and blocks and a strong planning machinery at the state level.
The major contradiction in the paper appears when Minocha is on the verge of ending his arguments, for he, in the last para, says, and