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

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Cynical Prescriptions

DESPITE the socialist rhetoric of the years of planning, the sharply dualistic character of Indian society reflected in varied forms of disparities (rural-urban, inter-regional and inter-state and above all inter-personal) not only persisted but got steadily accentuated. The accelerated economic growth of the 1980s did not make any significant difference and by the beginning of the 1990s it was clear that even the capitalist path of development that the Indian state had espoused required vastly greater emphasis on human capital and social infrastructure development. The economic reform measures under implementation for the last four years have been oblivious of the needs of social sector development and have widened inequalities in all spheres. The persistence of double- digit inflation, the sharp increase in the prices of the items of common consumption especially, has hurt the poor the hardest. The problem is compounded by the sluggish growth of employment and reduced societal support to improve educational and health standards and rural and urban amenities for the poor. Against the Eighth Plan goal of generating 32 to .16 million jobs in four years, the number of jobs created during this period would not exceed 21 to 22 million. And compared to the social sector expenditure target of 18.2 per cent of the Plan outlay, actual expenditure has been 15.5 to 16 per cent. The claims of higher allocations for IRDP, Jawahar Rozgar Yojana and Nehru Rozgar Yojana and such other special employment programmes notwithstanding, the amounts spent, families assisted andmandays of employment generated have all remained relatively modest compared to what had been achieved in the second half of the 1980s. The much-talked-about national renewal fund (NRF) has remained a facade for offering retirement benefits to the middle-level employees with the help of funds provided by the World Bank.

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