Social Scientist. v 16, no. 179 (April 1988) p. 1.


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Editorial Note

In the current number of Social Scientist we bring together some more of the papers which were presented at the seminar, organised by this journal, on four decades of India's economic development. The objective of that seminar was not so much to discuss the political economy of post-independence Indian development in its broad generalities, but to look at the changes which have taken place, and are taking place, in the economic scenario, i.e., to work upwards from the broad parameters of political economy to a discussion of current trends. The papers presented in this issue fall within this general rubric. Their perceptions of the, basic parameters of political economy, e.g., the precise nature of class-relations underlying the Indian State, may not always be congruent; but each of them builds a story taking cognisance of some aspect of contemporary Indian economic reality.

A notable feature of the economy in recent years has been the rapid growth of the tertiary sector and within it, in particular, of public administration and defence. Indeed the recent acceleration in economic growth^ so proudly proclaimed by the Planning Commission, is entirely on account of this burgeoning tertiary sector, which is the theme of the lead article by Ashok Mitra. He draws attention in particular to two distinct aspects of the growth of the tertiary sector. First, while it is a fact that in almost all capitalist countries the tertiary sector grew rapidly at a certain stage of development, so that in the sequence of growth it wa^ the secondary sector which was envisaged first and then the tertiary sector, in India the rapid expansion of the tertiary sector has occurred even while the share of the secondary sector in GDP has remained virtually unchanged. Unlike elsewhere, in other words, our tertiary sector growth is not following upon a long phase of rapid industrialisation, but is occurring in the absence of it. Secondly, in other countries, together with tertiary sector growth there was a shift of employment towards this sector, while in our case the increase in the tertiary sector's share in GDP is not accompanied by any change in its share of overall employment. The character of our tertiary sector growth therefore is sui generis. Not only is it a parasitic growth, but by virtue of that very fact, likely to choke off the growth of the basic commodity producing sectors.



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