Social Scientist. v 16, no. 177 (Feb 1988) p. 3.

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A Perspective on the Recent Phase of India s Economic Development

1. MANY FIND it incomprehensible that Marxist economists should paint a grim picture of the performance of the Indian economy since independence, which according to conventional macro-indicators has been quite sound, if not spectacular. The economy, they argue, has grown over a prolonged period at an annual rate of over three-and-a-half per cent, thus reversing the decline in per capita income that characterised the last half century of British rule; it has managed to keep the trend rate of inflation to below ten percent; it has had significant technological achievements to its credit, the latest being in the sphere of oil extraction; it has achieved, no doubt at a low level of consumption, self-suficiency' in foodgrains, and, prior to the current drought, had built up a sizeable foodgrain stock of around 23 million tonnes; and it has done all this with very little commercial borrowing from abroad over the period as a whole. In view of this performance, no doubt less spectacular than that of socialist China or capitalist South-Korea, but a solid one nonetheless, aren't the dire forebodings of Marxist economists simply reflective of their usual recourse to hyperbole?

Differences in evaluating the performance of the economy arise because of differences in the things which are being looked at Marxist economists look beyond the macro-indicators mentioned above, into the nature and direction of the process of development, including its social and political consequences. In short, their terrain of discourse is altogether different. An attempt, would be made in this paper to raise certain issues within this terrain of discourse, which, no matter what one thinks of their treatment here, are of unquestionable importance.

2. It is a commonplace propostition that capitalist development in the post-independence period has been sought to be promoted on the basis of an agrarian structure which has witnessed no significant reduction in the extent of land concentration. The bourgeois leadership of the national movement which had earlier given the slogan of "land to the tiller", went back upon that slogan in the years after independence. The land reforms

*Ce4t^ for Eico^olic Studio ^ pjwun^ Jawabarlal N^bm University. N^w D^lbi.

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