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|January 28, 2000||
North-south divide in India widening: Padma Vibhushan K N Raj
Noted economist and academic Dr K N Raj on Friday warned of a widening divide between northern and southern India on many counts from education to economy and held that there were wide differences between states.
Addressing a meet-the-press programme in Thiruvananthapuram, the noted economist, who was recently bestowed the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award, felt that the southern states were slightly better due to many reasons.
"However, I am afraid that a north-south divide would widen and more disturbing fact is that the north does not understand its backwardness in sectors like education,'' he said.
Prof Raj affirmed that Marxism, as a body of thought and political economy, was on the defensive in its theoritical sense. Because there was very little left now of what Marx conceived.
In the '30s, there was the fear that the Russian economy would herald a new world of system but everything is passe now, he added.
Talking about the economic backwardness of Kerala, he advised the state to focuss on small-scale sector which was more suited because the large-scale units always pollute the atmosphere. ``We think of large mansions, wasting a lot of money on it, whereas we fail to recognise that even in countries like the USA, more industrial growth was achieved through the small-scale sector," he said.
More than an economic agenda, it was the failure of the society itself being reactionary in nature, that led to the industrial backwardness of the state, he noted.
There was no quality primary education to start with and the university education was badly shaped that contributed to this failure of the society, Dr Raj said.
Being one of the architects of Kerala's people's planning campaign, he stuck to the basic idea of planning in panchayat-levels as he believed that only this could bring the masses to development.
The economist also came down heavily on the present system for failing to properly use the savings, especially that from the Non Resident Indians.
The former professor of the Delhi School of Economics was strong in his opinion of privatising the loss-making public sector undertakings. Dr Raj, who was instrumental in the bank nationalisation, said many of the PSUs have ceased to grow and these should be privatised.
Referring to the globalisation and the emergence of a powerful middle class, he said the middle class was `terribly prosperous' as it remained useless to the society as a whole and constrained itself to a very few individuals.
Prof Raj also strongly opposed the idea of constitutional review, as proposed by the BJP government at the Centre. ``They don't have anything to offer and hence they think of constitutional restructuring.
''They should, instead, think of bettering the education levels of states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, their strongholds. They are proposing the constitutional amendment as if it had come on the way of wiping out poverty,'' the economist ridiculed.
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