the Second Five Year Plan, Mr. Sri Prakasa, Governor
of Bombay, said, amidst all-round laughter, "I
really do not know what it is all about." He had
been having very heavy volumes, printed on the cover,
'The Five-Year Plan, lying on his table, and they were
so big that he had not the courage to look into them.
Of course when somebody was talking about it, he pretended
to know something about it.
Inaugurating the 40th annual conference of the All India
Women's Association, Madras Branch, along with a Second
Five Year Plan Seminar, the ex-Governor of Madras, made
this 'startling' remark.
We know that Mr. Sri Prakasa is an erudite scholar—has
got leisure enough to read and re-read volumes and volumes.
In fact, his erudition has been much appreciated, almost
every evening, while he was the Governor of Madras.
That, that talent has not been diminished was proved
amply, by the very many interesting speeches, that the
citizens of Madras had during the course of last week.
From dancing to dietary details, from sectarianism to
sciences, Mr. Sri Prakasa, has got something to say
and his knack of sayings in an interesting way is well-known.
Hence, for him, to 'confess,' the fact, that he knows
nothing about the Second Five Year Plan—that the volumes
on his table are left unread—is to state the least,
It might be argued, that the Governor of Bombay, has
but pointed out the constitutional position, when he
said that he knows nothing about the Plan—and he conveys
by this statement, that the Ministers are the proper
persons, to know about these Plans. But then, dancing
and dietetics too, need not be usurped! There are persons,
responsible for and equipped with the special knowledge
required. We do find Mr. Sri Prakasa enthusiastic in
such fields—he does not know anything about the Second
Five Year Plan—alone! More than that, he has not cared
to take some pains to go through the volumes that lie
unread on his table.
This, surely, reveals not the 'person' concerned, but
the nature of the Plan! It kindles no interest, even
in the mind of so keen a student of multifarious fields
of thought and action as Mr. Sri Prakasa. The volumes
on his Table, are unread—because, he gets no inclination
to go through them, though the title is there on the
cover page 'Five Year Plan!'
But, we are not surprised at this attitude. In fact,
we do appreciate the frankness. There are many, placed
in positions of power, who pompously parade their knowledge
about these 'Plans'—but that has not been of any use,
to the people at large. In fact, the people are bewildered.
Rosy pictures are painted before the people, and after
hearing the harangues, the people find themselves after
all in the grips of poverty and squalor. There is an
abundant supply of statistics—the increase in acreage—the
increase in the yield—the number of new factories that
have arisen—so on and so forth—but after attending such
speeches the people go back to their parched-up villages,
and poverty-stricken hovels.
Mr. Sri Prakasa, did well, in not going through those
volumes. For had he gone through those bulky books,
he would be instantly transported to a Land of Plenty—and
when afterwards, he is face to face with reality, he
would be certainly bewildered. We are glad that Mr.
Sri Prakasa has escaped that predicament.
But the people has not escaped that predicament. Not
a day passes without a minister or a deputy dumping
facts about the Plan. Charts are exhibited, statistics
are explained by paid propagandists. The stage, the
screen, in fact every available means of propaganda
is being exploited with zeal, to inject the people with
an enthusiasm about the Plan. The Plan has become the
'burden of the song'—and even at the risk of the people,
the advantages to be reaped from the plan.
But the people find life becoming a burden!
Unemployment and under-employment are on the increase!
Scarcity of food and high prices torment the poor and
the middle class!
There is all-round frustration!
Suicides are on the increase!
Faced with such an ugly reality, it is a torment for
the people to listen patiently the propagandists, listing
the achievements of the Plan.
From time to time, the bold and the outspoken to be
found in all political camps, come forward to openly
criticise the Plan itself. Not only from what is termed
as the unfriendly quarter, but from the Congress camp
itself, someone or other, some day or other, point out
the truth. Others, burdened with official position,
couch their criticism in a diplomatic way. But, in spite
of much propaganda, the painful truth is becoming plainer
every day—the plan has been a costly hobby. As there
is no use in crying over spilt milk, the prudent are
asking Pandit Nehru to reshape, rephase the Second Plan
"The picture of our internal and external resources
is gloomy indeed. An economic crisis is looming large
on the horizon. Prices continue to rise and wages seek
to keep pace with prices. Inflationary trends are evident.
The prospects of raising internal resources through
taxation, savings or borrowing are becoming dim. In
the face of these difficulties there is no alternative
but to prune the Second Plan in keeping with our resources.
The basic mistake committed by government and the planners
was that they concentrated on physical targets without
first making a careful and realistic estimate of our
resources. We maintain that the Second Plan is out of
proportion to our resources. If the Plan is not properly
rephased, it will lead to economic disaster. In drawing
up the Second Plan we have sacrificed realism for idealism.
We would therefore appeal to government and the Congress
party not to make the Second Plan a matter of political
prestige. A mistake has been made, the government should
not fight shy of admitting it and recasting the plan
in keeping with the available resources. While self-help
economy and austerity are necessary for the success
of the Plan, these in themselves cannot bridge the gap
between the large outlay on the Second Plan and our
—So writes the 'Hitavada' of Nagpur—by no means an anti-Congress
paper. It needed perhaps much courage of conviction
for expressing the bitter truth. For, anyone finding
fault with the plan runs the risk of courting the displeasure
and downright condemnation of Pandit Nehru. For him,
'PLAN' is everything! It is a word with the big alphabet—it
is his religion! He alone is endowed with the vision
to find out the shape of things to come, and none but
he is equipped with the ability needed for the execution
of the plan. Everything else should give way to the
onward march of the plan! All efforts are switched on
to this one supreme effort—the plan !! Those who desire
to take stock of the situation, are dubbed as anti-national!
Those who talk about prudence, patience—are all agents
of despondency, defeatism, and of crimes even more heinous.
"India will not melt away" says Pandit Nehru,
"even if we do not get aid or' loan or assistance".
There is rich rhetoric in this—but alas, what an abundance
of poverty of idea as far as the reality is concerned.
The "Modern Review" is not easily to be excited,
nor can that journal be termed as anti-national. It
has got always a soft corner for Pandit Nehru, in spite
of the fact that the genius of Bengal has not been recognised
and given its due place, under the Nehru regime.
The "Modern Review" has got this to say about
"It is clear to all excepting those who are drunk
with power and are befuddled with the rosy dreams of
world acclaim, that whether these series of plans materialise
into concrete reality or not, the nationals of the Indian
Union will degenerate into a race of third class individuals,
physically, mentally and morally, unless a halt is called
to this Rake's progress.
The people are down to the lowest level and yet they
are being bled in the name of an unholy project. We
call it unholy, because during the first five year plan
the poor have become poorer and the new-rich, richer.
And we see nothing in the second plan to stop this down-grade
progression, despite all the eye-wash of wealth and
Findings from such level-headed journals, should make
Pandit Nehru to stop and ponder. But, no! He refuses
to give any quarter to such doubting-Thomases'. His
admirers from beyond the seas, go over to the Capital
from time to time, to speak in glowing terms about the
'the greatest experiment'—the noblest ideal—the Nehru
touch—the silent revolution—and such other sweet cajolaries.
Pandit Nehru is immensely satisfied.
And he is so enthused that he mistakes the toffies offered
as so many trophies! Hence his infuriation at any adverse
comment on his 'plan'.
That the people have not evinced interest enough for
the plan has been pointed out by Prof. Mahalanobis himself
—though the professor refuses to step out of his library
to find out the reasons thereof by a direct contact
with the people.
Souvenirs, seminars, blue-prints and schemes in pigeon-holes,
are no compensation for the lack of a fair, full and
decent lift—and it is only this assurance that the -people
demand, through their sunken and cheerless look. To
garb their poverty by the poetry of a plan, is Pandit
Nehru's way—and it has been the way throughout the history
of all the leaders who found in their hands immense
and unchallenged power. A democrat who refuses to learn
the needed lesson from the sobs and sighs of the masses,
just because he is immersed in the twinkling of some
distant and dubious bell, is not less dangerous than
a bullying dictator—the latter at any rate creates an
odium which ultimately will drive him from power, but
the democrat who is able to throw an aroma over the
people, and persist adamantly in a scheme fraught with
disaster, is to be much more dreaded. And that a exactly
where we stand. The way out? Answer, echo, answer, if