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

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Where Democracy and Modernisation Stop

game, at the end of which there will be only the silence of the grave. The youth in Assam are otherwise engaged, they are much too worked up, otherwise they could have been counselled that, rather than concentrating on the daunting statistics of numbers, they ought to concern themselves on the morphology of quasi-stagnancy in production and productivity. And the problem, they could have been gently reminded, is not specific to Assam, it is equally acutely relevant for the rest of the north-east as well as for most of the eastern states. If, thanks to the sudden coming into prominence of a discharged lance corporal from the army, the dilemma of the northern districts of West Bengal has of late been thrust to the fore, those afflicting the southern districts in the state are no different. The data are all there, at one's beck and call. All one has to do is to engage in a detailed listing of the eighty- odd districts of the eastern and north-eastern states and union territories, put down side by side the rate of growth of crop output and that of population for each; in the case of at least two-thirds of the districts, the former, it will be seen, trails the latter, so much so that per capita real income has dropped in each of these districts since the time the nation gave itself over to the five- year plans. The reason for this denouement is straight and simple: per capita investment in the vast majority of these districts has been altogether insignificant in the past thirty-odd years, and would not average to more than one-third of the average for all the other districts of the country. Much of the investment that has in fact taken place, for instance in the north-eastern region or the hill districts of northern Bengal, has been largely induced by the requirements of the army, such as roads and bridges in forlorn tracts. What has been considered as priority for the army is hardly priority for the people.

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