With The Long-Haired Boys

In a recent event in which a hundred-year anniversary commemorating the life and work of Indira Gandhi was unveiled, President Pranab Mukherjee has underlined his commitment to food self-sufficiency. The publication of a coffee table book is not the occasion to detail the obstacles it has faced and the resolution with which it was resolved, but it is a completely unknown story. It is a little difficult for the current generation to visualize an India that lives in the forest. Food reservations were unthinkable. Food policy was to cover literally, the deficits of US imports. PL 480 and organise its distribution. Gandhi knew that global aid and the Bretton Woods system wanted India to depend on this link. I was fortunate to have a ring view on this great episode in Indian history.
Modelé a long-term plan for Gujarat and Sukhomoy Chakravarty led me to the Planning Commission to lead its powerful Planning Division of Perspective (PPD), an honor I accepted for the term of the deputation because they did not join the government of Permanent form. My predecessor, the indomitable Pitamber Pant, was a friend of Indira Gandhi. The files I inherited were always characterized by Pitamber Indira. His outlook was clear. She was humiliated when India had to ask for grains and wanted India to be freed from claws. The PPD was mandated to develop a self-sufficiency plan and there were difficulties to return to the PMO.
I discovered that the planning beans are done without any test data field. Unlike industrial plans, there were no projects or field studies used to allocate resources. The standards used as an additional acre of irrigation, give X quantity of cereals, were totally fictitious. The first thing we did was to gather information about success and failure stories and build a reasonable plan based on the data. I asked district fundraisers to send data in the early 1970s and compared it to 1960 to develop our plan. We said we needed eight hundred million rupees for irrigation – half the amount to complete
10 projects that languish for a decade and the rest of the wells cased. We have said that if we do this, we will produce 125 million tons of grain in 1978-79. We have become the laughter funds of the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank said that only the long-haired boys of the Planning Commission can dream about it. They said India’s food production would be 118 million tonnes and we will need seven to 10 million tonnes of imports. The Economic Survey said we could not cross 122 million tons in a good year for us, we mocked. Indira Gandhi was standing in front of the boys with the long hair of the Planning Commission. After the budget for 1975 to 1976, which forced the Ministry of Finance, despite its skepticism, to allocate PPD money wanted as additional budgetary allocation. We never look back. Our grain production in 1978-79 was
127 million tonnes, as President Mukherjee said in the Centennial function, and those who mocked us took advantage of his praise.
In Washington for a seminar in 1980, I was asked how India exceeded its goal of two million tons. Back in Ahmedabad by then, I can say with pride that I am from Gujarat and that I always play safely. Now, of course, those who were skeptical then also take credit, as they did in the centenary. This gives a comfortable feeling. Victorias Indira Gandhi belong to India. The next time you go to a party and eat well, remember that this great leader and his courage In May 1975 make the right decision, even when it was criticised. In many developing countries, you can not be crazy without feeling guilty.
In real terms, the allocation to agriculture was exceeded in 1975-76 in a year at least until the mid-1990s. After this, the CSO did not provide comparable data, so I do not know. Great leaders act and do not just talk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *