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Peace, Planning and Platitudes

Rahamatullah Khan

By S.D. Joshi
Somaiya Publications, New Delhi, 1980, pp. 124, Rs. 32.00

VOLUME V NUMBER 2 September/October 1980

Dr. Joshi, Chief  Executive of  Wal­chandnagar Industries Ltd., has written what could pass as an ethical base to the Janata blueprint of the sixth Five­-Year Plan. The reviewer chooses to so regard this work, for the treatment of the economic content in the planning pro­cess that the author seeks to address is rather flimsy. The language is weak; and the analysis is based on dated material. The author's familiarity with the litera­ture, especially on the international plane, does not seem to go beyond the First Report to the Club of Rome, namely, The Limits to Growth. The author strives to improve Meadow's model by grafting on to it fanciful dimensions such as social, meta­physical, etc. But there is nothing new in the way he urges planners to look at the planning process. ‘The metaphysical constraint to growth’, according to the author, ‘is nothing but the conscious­ness in man that he is part and parcel of nature.’ This dimension, everybody knows, is always taken into consider­ation by planners as one relating to the environment. Joshi reproduces seve­ral pages of tables and statistics to emphasize the point that the planning process in a country like India defies easy solutions and that it involves taking mind-boggling measures. A simple state­ment in the Second Report to the Club of Rome, Mankind at the turning Point, has a more telling effect than all the tables and graphs produced here. Quot­ing T. Vittachi, the report highlights this stupendous task facing the nation: ‘With the population increase, India needs to build 1000 new schoolrooms every day from now on for the next twenty years,  1000 new hospital wards every day from now on for the next twenty years and 10,000 houses every day from now on for the next twenty years.’ The greater problem relates to the quasi-ethical tone adopted throughout the book. Of course, there is nothing wrong in bringing to bear ethical considerations in the planning process. But Dr. Joshi pleads for a process in which ‘jealousy’, ‘ambition’ and such other trifles are removed. At times his exhortations assume pontifical proportions. Take this sample: ‘ ... the people who aspire for growth must have faith in humanity and mankind. They may have religious affili­ations, profess altruism or total atheism, but they should still be convinced about the basic concepts of ethical behaviour, and the principles of peaceful co-existence. If ...

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