ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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NEW DELHI-Planning Commission Has Few Listeners

even if foodgrains production were to be as large as is being stipulated in official claims, prices will nonetheless continue to rise for quite a while, and at a rate certainly not less than 10 per cent per annum. This is a process of attrition: the inflation which has got injected into the system will have to work itself out, slowly, wearingly, naggingly. The lags in price-wage adjustments will have their own story to tell. A government whose sense of priorities is so utterly topsy-turvy that the Defence of India Rules are threatened to be applied to bring back to work a group of striking nurses agitating for higher wages to compensate for the price rise, but are not ever deployed against traders and speculators, does not evidently want to be taken seriously. It will accordingly continue to lack the skills necessary to cope with the second order consequences of this yearns food! scarcity. Prices will, rest assured, therefore continue to climb. If the circulation of money has been such that the big farmers and traders still find it worthwhile to corner foodgrains, while the authorities remain unsure whether indiscriminate expansion of bank deposits is inflationary or not, prices will not come down. It is not enough to produce the grains, the grains must be collected by the governmental apparatus, and supplied at moderate distributive cost, to the poor consumers in urban as well as rural areas, particularly rural areas. There may be a bumper crop, but if the Government prefers to stay away from enforcing the discipline of a compulsory levy, the essence of the problem will remain what it is. Where temerity becomes the major instrument of official policy, hortatory statements by themselves are unlikely to make the economy take a benign turn.

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