அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்


About 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, 'startling.'

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 at least.

"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 modest resources."

—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 these plans:—
"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 expenditure taxes."

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 thou could.

(Editorial - 08-12-1957)