Social Scientist. v 15, no. 170 (July 1987) p. 1.


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Editorial Note

INDIAN "planning" began with the laudable objective of bringing about an institutional transformation of the economy in the direction of socialism, thrqugh providing "land to the tiller", and ensuring that key means of production are "socially-owned and controlled for the benefit of sopiety as a whole". The actual institutional transformation that has taken place, however, has consisted of an overall privatisation of the economy, a strengthening of exclusive proprietarial rights in the place of customary ties owing to the growth of market transactions, and a consolidation of the position of those who already had sufficient command over resources to start with. The record of development that we have had is symptomatic of this institutional transformation that has occurred an practice : w the one hand, the growth in the proportion of agricultural labourers and "marginal fanners" in the work-force, as well as the increasing casualisa*-tion of such labourers, has meant that over half the country's total population ekes out a living that is both abysmally low and precariowly uncertain; on the other hand, a tiny minority consisting of the top decile or so, of the population has cornered for itself the substantially increased economic surplus as a proportion of national income.

This contrast between the proposed objective and the actual experience of institutional transformation in the economy is the theme of the lead article by Professor C.T. Kurien in the current issue of Social Scientis t. The author underscores the dialectical relationship that exists between property relations in an economy and its planning process. Property relations are not some sort of a separately-existing, independent entity which can be forgotten for a while, to be taken up for appropriate rectification later, while planning gets busy with the task of promoting "growth" in the interim. On the contrary, if planning does not consciously shape property relations to start with, then these relations, themselves getting transformed and crystalised during the growth-process in a manner which runs counter to the plan objective, come to shape the process of planning itself. The author locates the New Economic Policy as an illustration of the manner in which the changing institutional structure of the economy has come to shape the planning process itself. As we complete forty years of independence, this is a phenomenon we would do well to ponder over.

Combining agricultural labourers together with the broad masses of the peasantry in a joint struggle for agrarian transformation poses exceed-



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