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 Planning Commission

Mainstream, VOL LI, No 16, April 6, 2013

Opulent Kerala and Evil-eyed
 Planning Commission

Friday 12 April 2013, by K G Somasekharan Nair


While lecturing at a function in Kochi on September 11, 2012, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, exhorted the Keralites to move out of paddy cultivation and use paddy fields for industries or other profitable purposes. As he is the bureaucratic head of the Planning Commission and the venue was an official meeting conducted by the Government of Kerala, what he said was not his personal opinion but the official decision. In order to arrive at this decision he used all minute details of the State available at his finger-tips. That is to say, this small State has three lengthwise divisions—the mountainous Western Ghats, hilly middle land, and coastal area of lakes and lagoons. In between thousands of hills spread all over the middle land of the State, there are marshes used for paddy cultivation that provide two or three harvests per year. Some shallow portions of lagoons have been reclaimed about a century back for single-crop paddy cultivation in summer. In addition, flood plains, attached to both banks of 42 rivers flowing across the State, were also used for summer harvest. All marshes, lagoons and flood plains where paddy is cultivated comprise what is generally called wetland. It is full of mud and clay due to nine months of rainfall.

As a result of the implementation of the Kerala Land Reforms Act in the 1970s, tenants—who were middlemen exploiting both land-owners and agricultural workers—became land-lords. They had no commitment to land or agriculture and so they sold the paddy fields donated by law in pieces for a pittance. The ceiling fixed by the Land Reforms Act was 15 acres. The government seized the surplus land and assigned one acre each to the so-called landless people. They also sold it and squandered the amount received without sweat. Such piecemeal sales fragmented the farmland and the enormous small holdings obstructed the mechanisation and industrialisation of agri-culture. Farmers, who sowed paddy seeds, always reaped losses. In order to escape from the loss somebody introduced the tractor for the tiller. Violent trade unions of agricultural workers set fire to the machineries and organised insurgencies to enhance their wages as well as to minimise the working hours. Agricultural enterprises turned from loss to misfortune and landowners left the paddy fields barren. About thirty years back the total area of wetland for paddy cultivation was 12 lakh hectares and now it is below two lakh hectares. For that reason the Planning Commission made a decision to raze the middle land hills and use that soil to fill all marshes and lagoons. If this decision is executed Kerala would get a vast area of dry-land to be used for income generating purposes theoretically.

It may be seen that all hills in Kerala are colossal water tanks of nature which absorb rain water and sluice it in from millions of streams and brooklets to enrich the branches and tributaries of all the 42 rivers of the State. Underground springs from hills, rivers and moorland provided naturally filtered pure water in wells attached to every house for all days in a year. When paddy cultivation became a loss-generating occupation, many landowners started to convert wetland to dryland. In proportion to the razing of hills for soil and the progress of the conversion process, rivers and wells dried up in summer. Long queues of people now wait for impure water sold by mafia groups in tanker lorries and the State has become exposed to all kinds of western fevers, infectious and deadly. In order to put an end to this evil procedure, the State enforced a statutory ban on the conversion of wetland. At this point the Planning Commission is pressing the govern-ment to amend the law so that the remaining wetland may get easily converted.

Even though the Planning Commission decided on the conversion of wetland for industry, that is not the real intention. That is because the basic necessity for industry is not land but electricity in the new age and Kerala is much deficient in it. The Planning Commission’s move to go ahead with its plan without guaranteeing electricity indicates another point. The average value of wetland per acre is currently about Rs 1 lakh here. If the soil for Rs 8 or 10 lakhs is dumped over it by destructing hills, the value will arise to Rs 4 or 5 crores. If the ban on conversion of wetland is lifted, it would enable business groups to accumulate heavy profit by transformation of wetland to dryland on the pretext of industrialisation. This is the conspiracy of the Planning Commission. If this is carried out, it would destroy all natural sources of drinking water in the State. All rivers of Kerala are beginning to disappear due to artificial deviations made opposite to their natural flow as well as sand mining.

In Kerala, there has been no agricultural production other than that of rubber and tea for the last three decades. Except two or three sub-major industries, the State is free of that. But, surely Kerala is the richest State in India, perhaps the richest landscape in the world. Despite all cracked and waterlogged roads in remote villages, luxurious houses are coming up regularly by spending Rs 1 crore or above. And these are widely spread. All middle class families have cars and almost all those above them have brand new cars. Those being assumed to be the BPL class have motor cycles and everybody has a mobile phone. All houses have LPG and electricity connections. Here, the lowest daily wage for an unskilled worker is Rs 600, mason Rs 800, electrician and plumber above Rs 1200 which is equal to a week’s wage outside.

The mechanism of the ‘progress’ of Kerala was started in the 1940s, when aggressive trade union movements imposed strike to get factories locked out forever. People, especially youngsters, left Kerala and roamed over other linguistic territories in search of work for subsistence. They fought adversities and registered achievements according to their capability. After independence, the trade union terrorists successfully closed almost all factories and the escape of the youth to other States continued unabated. They shifted mainly to Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Everybody sent his hard-earned savings home where a number of dependants were waiting for money orders. However, in the 1960s oil-fields in the Arabian deserts opened up vast employment opportunities providing higher payments. Adventurous Keralites in Mumbai sailed to the Persian Gulf countries in launches. “First Mumbai, then Gulf” was the watchword of the youngsters. In addition, America, Canada, England, Germany, Australia and Africa opened the doors to educated Keralites with excellent salaries. All those working in foreign countries built expensive residential buildings all over the State in anticipation of their life in retirement. They are also making shopping complexes, multistoried apartments, star hotels, tourist resorts, hospitals and such other establishments to assure regular income on returning to their homeland. Thus urbanisation has grown phenomenally and now the State as a whole has become a gigantic single city. There is no difference between the urban and rural people either in educational qualifications or dressing habits or food-styles. But foodgrains, vegetables, meat, clothings, drugs, cosmetics, utensils, electrical items, hardware and building materials, except bricks, are not produced here. No economist had predicted such an unbelie-vable prosperity and asset creation by a buyer State having no agriculture or industry.

Interested parties defined economics as the science of production and distribution of wealth. If an economist, who is linked to the ruling party, can prove that a particular Budget is surplus, a servile economist of the Opposition can prove it deficit by applying paralogic on the same facts and figures. So all universities recognise economics only as an art and not a science subject. When science is the study of objective reality arts are subjective, imaginative and illusionary created by the whims and fancies, knowledge and belief as well tradition and intellectual acumen of individuals. Economics has all the characteristics of an arts subject and not of science. The example of Marxian economics is there for us. It had been proved the most scientific economic theory hypothetically. All countries, where scientific socialism was enforced in accordance with the tenets of Marxian economics, damned the peoples, who eventually rose up for liberation from that economics. Similar is the case of capitalist economics. In spite of direct and indirect plunder being conducted all over world, capitalist countries are undergoing irresolvable financial crisis. Pauperism is the most revered global recession. The misfortune of peoples in both capitalist and communist countries proves that economics is not a science but a dogmatic and romantic fantasy or fallacy. If anybody is insistent on establishing economics as a science, she/he must first admit that palmistry is also a science.

The riddle of planning is an application of economics in the body of a nation. In India, the idea of the Five Year Plan was borrowed from the Soviet Union and it has been implemented by the highly expensive Planning Commission at the Centre and Planning Boards in the States. Once it was extensively propagated that Five Year Plans made the Soviet Union something like a paradise and they had wonderfully completed their First Five Year Plan within three years. Before the introduction of the Five Year Plan Russia alone produced foodgrains enough to feed the whole of middle Europe. Mines in Siberia are the richest storage of all valuable ores and minerals. The Soviet Union was the biggest oil producing nation. They were self-sufficient in everything except rubber and tin. But when twelve Five Year Plans were completed successfully, the Soviet authorities had to bend on their knees before other European countries with the begging bowl. The people, fed up with the mess created by the Five Year Plans, dismantled the Soviet Union at last.

In India, consolidated achievements created by the guesswork of the Planning Commission is making human life more and more difficult. They explain that all those ordeals are manifes-tations of growth and exhibit some arithmetic tables like primary school teachers. At this juncture, politicians in and out of power realise that economists and planning professionals are depending upon them for personal gains like medieval minstrels and they have no responsibility to the people. The marvellous achievements of the Keralites are not the gift of any economic dogmatism or created by any planning expert resorting to jugglery. The people behind those achievements know how to protect and develop them. Only one thing the Planning Commission has to do: refrain from any attempt to destruct the remaining hills and waterlogged lands and thus inevitably transform Kerala into an Indian Sahara.

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