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Taking Stock
Dreaming development
By Rizwan Ullah

Rizwan UllahPeople naturally dream of development, of making progress. In this respect they may have their own objectives to achieve, their own targets to meet or else an example to emulate. In the case of having objectives they will be directly related to their height of thinking, clarity of ideas about methods and means and the ability to unite all people in a national effort. In case of an example to be followed they will have to stretch financially and physically to reach upto the desired state of development. But in this case too it will be necessary to carry the people along. This shows that pulling all resources unitedly is inevitable. Conversely, if the policies of a party or government result in dividing the people on the basis of caste, creed or class, that will never lead to progress or development. Similarly if a section of the people is deprived of their share in the process of development the desired objective will never be achieved and the development will be lopsided. Thus without going into the past history of a party or government and without any consideration of its future promises, a mere glance at its policies and programme it can be concluded where it is leading to; it is leading towards progress or regress. This analysis may help those who have a vision and want to make a choice from amongst the splitting groups called parties and distinguish between leaders hankering after power and chasing out the rivals who claim a share in the cake forgetting the people completely, leaving them in their agony of hunger, unemployment and disease. 

India having adopted a socialistic pattern of society it was quite natural for the country to adopt a system of planned development and consequent launching of five-year plans. While the strategy of planned development enabled Russia to make progress in all important spheres of life it has left us doubting the efficacy of that strategy. As the country is launching its tenth five year plan the shortcomings of the planning and the method of its implementation must be thoroughly studied. This plan is going to be launched at a time when liberalisation and globlisation have opened new economic vista which does not fully synchronise with the philosophy of planned development. At the moment just one example will show where the planned development has taken us. At the beginning of the first plan in 1951 the unemployment figure was in lakhs, not in crores, and the then finance minister had confidentially stated that by the end of the second plan, that is in early 1960s the unemployment would be the thing of the past. But towards the beginning of the ninth plan, about five years ago, the unemployment figure was about 5.8 crores and was expected to grow upto nine crores by the year 2002, that is by this time at the advent of the tenth plan. It may be remembered that this is the situation while literacy growth is not upto the mark, had it been higher the figures for the educated unemployed would be much higher.

However, a comparative study may not be out of place to show where do we stand in the midst of other nations, big and not so big, developed and those marching towards further development. The following figures in the World Almanac, New York, provide a glimpse of the picture toward the end of the last century or about the time of the beginning of this century. Obviously, the percentage of literacy is a significant indication of where the people stand. The United Kingdom, Germany and Japan have a hundred percent literacy. Next comes Russia with 99 percent, America 97 percent. China has 82 percent and India 52 percent. It may be remembered that Japan and China happen to be Asian countries; Japan suffered the shocks of World War II and China is carrying a bigger baggage of population than India does.

In any evaluation of development media has not only an important place but has a dual role. On one hand, it keeps government informed about the needs and expectations of the people and on the other informs the people what government has been doing for them or planning to do, how far the political parties have gone back on their promises to the people. The media must guide the people towards a better future and tell government about the means. Unfortunately, our media has much to do in that respect. It provides lopsided information to the people, hardly helps them in choosing future objectives, far from planning a course of future action. It is shy of pointing the weaknesses of the government. Of late though, it has shown some courage and is coming out with comments and criticism. However, the party or parties in power claim to remain the sole judge of what is in national interest and what is not. Despite all this media remain an important factor to be taken into account in any reckoning. 

As the days of the primacy of the press, rather its monopoly over information gathering and its dissemination are gone the emerging media has three main components, the press, radio and TV. They together go hunting news. Let us see how this hunting is going on in various countries where we have already observed the position of literacy. As for daily newspapers Japan tops the readership list with 578 persons per one thousand people, the UK (238), Germany (375), Russia (267) U.S. (238), China (23) and India (21). As regards radio, U.S tops the list with 2122 radio sets per one thousand people, next come Germany (1836), UK (1194), Japan (799), Russia (341), China (177) and India (117). As for TV sets, US tops the list with 776 sets per one thousand people, next come UK (612), Japan (578), Germany (551), China (189) and India (21). These figures provide the mirror for us to see our position in the comity of nations. How ugly we look will be shown by other figures about poverty, unemployment, corruptions and crimes. Of course, there we may find ourselves much ahead of many others.

It is time for us to think that while the backwardness is so great is it the time for leaders to quarrel over power grabbing? Is it the time to make and break government at will? Is it the time for pushing minorities into the killing fields and destroying their properties? Whether their properties are not part of the national wealth which is destroyed and burnt? How long India can afford to go backwards? How long people can be fed on false promises and emotional slogans? Can the country afford to remain in a policy vacuum on education? Can one single language, to the neglect of several other highly developed languages, take future generations very far in the race for development?

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