[sbinews] Social Sector spending

  • From: sbistcbangalore@xxxxxxxx
  • To: sbinews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 07:54:33 +0500

Is social sector spending a waste?
Social sector spending is not relevant now

[ FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2003 12:13:51 AM ] 
B Jhunjhunwala 

Economist and Commentator 

Digvijay Singh focused on the social sectors but the people have rejected this 
model. The first reason is that education and health are assets only if there 
are opportunities in the economy, and a liability otherwise. The knowledge of 
English and mathematics is beneficial if the graduate can land himself a job. 
If not, he often becomes a parasite on his family. He becomes a ‘babu’ and 
considers working in the field below his dignity. And he cannot get a job 
because there is no industry. And there is no industry because there are no 
roads. The correct way is for the government to invest in infrastructure and 
create higher incomes and let people buy education and health from the market 
from those higher incomes. The role of the government in social sectors should 
be restricted to regulation of private providers and delivery of these services 
in selected backward districts which do not have private providers in adequate 

The second contribution of Digvijay Singh was his focus on rural development. 
This strategy too is against the march of history. The village was a necessity 
when agriculture was done through bullocks. Small habitations had to be located 
such that draught animals could walk to the field, work and return. Nowadays 
tractors have replaced bullocks in vast areas. It is no longer necessary to 
live in small habitations. Therefore, villagers have become town-oriented. They 
would like to live in towns and manage their fields from there. 

Moreover, the levels of income possible from agriculture are limited even if 
new technologies like water management, vermiculture and organic manuring are 
used. There are limits to how much capital can be combined with an acre of 
land. The low use of capital in agriculture means that the productivity of the 
agricultural labourers will be low and so also their wages. The village people 
see this. Their unskilled brothers who have migrated to the city earn Rs 3,000 
per month easily while they cannot reach that level despite all their efforts. 
The writing on the wall is loud and clear. People want infrastructure and good 
governance at the state level, and the development of small towns. The December 
1 polls mark the end of the era of social sector spending. 

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