The latest issue of the Frontline features on its cover the Approach Paper to the Twelfth Five Year Plan. [The title of this blog is borrowed from the Frontline].
The articles in the magazine show how the Approach Paper focuses on the welfare of the private corporations and ignore the marginalised sections. The magazine quotes P V Rajagopal (President of Ekta Parishad): “A broader analysis of the document comes out from a simple summation of some key words and how many times these were used. It also gives an idea of the direction that the Planning Commission is taking. The words and their usage: Dignity 0, hunger 0, equality 0, human rights 0, Dalits/Scheduled Caste 2, tribal/Adivasi 8, farmers 38, PPP (public-private partnership) 45, market 67, growth 279.”
Economic growth via the market is what the Approach Paper is hoping to give us in the Five Year Plan. There are many articles in the Frontline which argue that this kind of growth did not achieve the welfare of all the citizens in the countries where such strategies were employed in the last two or three decades. This is a strategy that promotes the welfare of a few. Yes, the incomes of those few will continue to rise higher giving us a high per capita income!
The Approach Paper even seeks to take away the land of the poor people from them. The land belonging to the poor and even forest land may be taken away for “public purpose,” which includes infrastructure and industry. In reality, says one of the articles in the magazine, “this (public purpose) can mean shopping malls and hotels, maybe to generate non-farm jobs!” The Paper even “seeks to ensure a no-barriers approach to land acquisition even in districts where the net sown area is less than 50 per cent of the total geographical area (the national average.”
Columnist C P Chandrasekhar argues that “the expectation (of the Approach Paper) is that incentivising private activity will deliver growth.” He goes on to say that markets have never been benign. Markets will only aggravate inequality. “Moreover,” says Chandrasekhar, “private gains were seen as substantially different and most often in conflict with social benefit.”
The Paper targets a growth rate of 9 to 9.5%. The target may be achieved too. But the cost will be paid for by the poor and the marginalised sections.