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

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From 50 Years Ago: From Expediency to Morality.

Editorial from Volume X, No 29, July 19, 1958. 

It has been remarked in these columns before that for some time past New Delhi has been showing unmistakable signs of confusion, if not of loss of nerves. The Plan targets have been cut and many of the policies which had been accepted as essential and the chosen instruments for securing rapid economic development, have been abandoned one by one. There have been more changes in economic policies in recent months perhaps than in any other comparable period in the record of present Government over the last 10 years. Now a certain measure of pragmatism is inevitable as also necessary in the formulation of policies and in the administration of economic affairs. After all, politics is an art of the possible. Political philosophers may deal with ideal forms, theoretical economists may play with their models; but practical politics has necessarily to be pragmatic, by and large, whatever the professions of political parties or politicians.

Do the recent changes, then, indicate necessary adjustments to a changed situation rather than a surrender or a return to the well-trodden path which may also mean falling into the same old rut out of which the present Government once promised the country and the people to lead them to a higher destiny? What is the present foreign exchange situation? What are the causes and what is the magnitude of the crisis which has created such a paralysing sense of uncertaint y and conf usion? On these questions, no one responsible in the Government has yet given a clear answer. Exhortation is not information. One does not get any wiser by poring over published data. All that one can guess, watching t he sit uat ion f rom t he out side, is t he difficulty of matching foreign exchange payments with foreign exchange receipts, a difficulty which must have been made very acute indeed by the decline in sterling balances which would have normally served as a cushion. That is to say that the only clear impression one can form is that of the problem of adjustments. Estimates are available of the foreign exchange situation over the Plan period. Of course, these estimates can tell us nothing about the possibility of synchronising receipts and payments over the next few weeks or months. The Planning Commission has appraised the situation only recently and adjusted the targets in the light of revised estimates of requirements and availabilities. Has anything gone seriously wrong since then, to precipitate a crisis and create this most unsettling effect on the public mind?

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