The test of a growing economy

AJ. Philip, in his article, “Why Amartya Sen is worried: Involve the poor in development” (Feb 21), has rightly dealt with the core issues of development and public health. It takes a Nobel Laureate, an economist of high calibre and a social thinker like Dr Amartya Sen to realise that economic development itself will not take care of the basic problems of the poor.

What is the use of economic growth if its fruits are not equitably distributed? A spurt in economy that makes the rich richer has no meaning at all. The test of a growing economy is whether the main beneficiaries are the marginalised sections of society.

Statistics about the infant mortality rate in Bangladesh and full child immunisation in Sri Lanka should be an eye-opener for those who harp on high economic growth rate alone. Furthermore, the number of children without BCG vaccination in India being higher than in Nepal, Bangladesh and even Sri Lanka should be a matter of concern for the government and the powers that be. The writer does not go into the root causes of the malady. Helping the downtrodden to enjoy the fruits of development should be the government’s main objective and how to achieve it is the key concern.

Dr B.R. SOOD, Bahadurpur (Hoshiarpur)



There is near-unanimity on the need for higher investment in education and primary health care. However, with limited resources, the Centre and the states are doing their best to improve the two sectors. Clearly, the sheer enormity of the problem makes every effort look like a needle in the haystack. Crucial issues such as this cannot be resolved merely by showing occasional concern in academic seminars.

Presently, 300 million people are wallowing below the poverty line. The roof cause of all health and education-related problems is the inherent poverty which again is a sequel to the involuntary population explosion in the absence of a pragmatic national health policy. For fear of political reprisals, officials have derailed the population control programme which is riddled with too many loose ends.

If all the families had followed the two-child norm since 1970, India’s population would not have crossed 750 million today. There is need to develop a soft but aggressive family planning campaign to achieve zero growth by 2012 and stabilise the population at 1250 million.



Dr Amartya Sen says that without perceptible development of the poor, economic growth has no meaning. His fellow Noble Laureate in Bangladesh Mohammed Yunus also holds the same view. Both lead against acquisition of poor farmers’ land for setting up of special economic zones (SEZ) by the land-hungry corporate houses. Surely, India will become a developed nation only when development helps the common man.

The writer’s reference to the acquisition of Corus and Arcelor by Ratan Tata and Lakshmi N. Mittal respectively would hardly help the poor who are concerned about their own struggle for survival. They live in miserable hovels and most women and children sleep without food with the fate of the next day’s meal having diminished.

It is easy for one to dream of India as a developed nation by 2020. However, can we ensure that not a single individual goes to bed without a meal by that period? The answer is an emphatic no.

SUNIL KUMAR, Chandigarh


True, some of our captains of industry like Ratan Tata and Lakshmi N. Mittal have bought Corus and Arcelor; they may attain superiority in metallurgy by becoming the world’s largest steel producers. However, the nation lacks enthusiasm in investing in human resources.

There is no resource crunch because our foreign exchange reserves are overflowing and the government income is also increasing. But we lack the vision to use public money. We concentrate on building malls, multi-storeyed flats and SEZs where, apparently, black or ill-gotten money finds its investment. Education, health care and poverty eradication are more important than raising such structures.

Though India produces 30,000 doctors every year, the child survival rate is less than our neighbours. Nearly half the children born here are underweight and stunted because the women are undernourished. In these aspects, some Asian and South Asian countries like Japan, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong are much ahead of India.

Massive investments are needed in providing free and compulsory education to all the needy children. Problems of children should be attended to more quickly. Let us pledge that no Indian remains illiterate and undernourished.

Dr L.K. MANUJA, Nahan

Tackling hostile witnesses

I D. Kaushik’s letter on the subject contains a well meaning proposition. The malaise of witnesses turning hostile is plaguing the fate of court cases. On account of cumbersome procedure and inordinate delays, cases drag on for years. Consequently, the witnesses succumb to pressures of all kinds including monetary temptations.

The statements recorded under Section 161 Cr PC have no validity. The judicial and the executive courts are hard pressed under the yoke of official work and weighty list of cases fixed for the day. Either the statute should be amended to cope with the changed circumstances or let the government resort to Section 164 Cr PC to mitigate the investigating agency’s plight.

The suggestion for appointment of First Class Magistrates (both executive and judicial) of pre-October 1964 vintage as honorary magistrates to record witnesses’ statements under Section 164 Cr PC is viable, practical and workable. It will provide the much-needed relief to those in the saddle and check the problem of hostile witnesses.

V.I.K. SHARMA, IAS (retd), Jalandhar



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