Social Scientist. v 19, no. 212-13 (Jan-Feb 1991) p. 103.


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BOOK REVIEW

'Political Economy' of Small Industries Policy

Nasir Tyabji, The Small Industries Policy in India, Oxford University Press, Calcutta, 1989, iv+223pp., Rs 200.

The book is primarily an effort to answer two questions: what has been the place of small scale industry in the overall industrial strategy of India? How did it evolve over a period of time? The period covered is supposed to begin with the entry of Gandhi, that is (1919), and end with the exit of Charan Singh (1980). Answers to these questions are sought through eleven chapters. The first four chapters, running into almost half of the two hundred pages, are devoted to what one may conventionally call 'methodology* and the remaining may be considered as the substantive part of the thesis. A thesis indeed it is. It is based on the author's doctoral dissertation.

Since it is intended to be a work of 'political economy' of small industries policy, the first chapter sets out with the basic conceptual framework beginning with capital as relation to the differentiation and evolution of merchant, usurer's and industrial capital with their associated forms specific to India so that one can demarcate precapitalist from the capitalist industrial activity. The second chapter deals with the concepts qlf concentration and centralisation of capital which enables to establish a correspondence between the hierarchy based on proprietorship, partnership and public and private limited companies on the one hand and the hierarchy of capital based on size. What is sought to be achieved is differentiation of the pre-capitalist small scale from the modem capitalist small scale on the basis of employment size of proprietorship and partnership concerns. A proprietorship with five or more hired workers falls into the latter category. Equipped with these conceptual differentiations, the third and fourth chapters take a dip into the empirical evidence to identify 'structures of industries' where small size predominated.

Turning to the substantive part beginning with the fifth chapter, one is rather embarrassed by the jarring note of the very vocabulary with which the 'political economy' discourse begins. In discussing the evolution of the Indian small industries policy, it talks in terms of

Social Scientist, Vol. 19, Nos. 1-2, January-February 1991



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