Routledge

M. Visvesvaraya’s Ten-Year Plan for India (1934)

Introduction: M. Visvesvaraya (1860-1962) was an engineer by profession and a great statesman of India. He served in the Bombay Presidency and then in the princely states of Hyderabad and Mysore. He was Dewan (Prime Minister) of Mysore from 1912 to 1918. He founded Mysore University, designed the Krishnasagar Dam and sponsored the Bhadravati Iron Works. He was an admirer of Japan’s industrial progress and also studied the Soviet Five Year Plans and the initiatives of the American President Roosevelt. In 1934 he published his own suggestions for a ten-year plan for India. This was the first attempt at economic planning in India.
(see also AHOI, Ch. 7, section: The rise of economic nationalism)

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It is proposed under the Plan to double the income of the country within ten years. The present yearly income is roughly estimated at Rs. 2,900 crores (= Rs. 29 billion). This will be increased approximately to Rs. 5,000 crores by the end of the period.
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In the schedule of developments given in this chapter, it is proposed to increase the indigenous capital invested in organized industries in British India from Rs. 300 crores to Rs. 1,000 crores and the value of yearly production from all classes of industries from Rs. 400 crores to Rs. 2,000 crores ........The proposals involve a combined outlay  of about Rs. 700 crores on all new industries over the entire period of ten years.
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Left to private enterprise, industries will not make satisfactory progress. Government should take the lead, as every progressive government is doing now; bold policies should be laid down and adhered to, an official organization .... should be brought into existence, and correct comprehensive reports of progress supported by adequate statistics should be published yearly.....
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The country should be self-contained in respect of products for the manufacture of which greater facilities are available locally than, for instance, in Japan or Great Britain. With an enormous population of over 40 million actually idle and 100 million only partly employed, the humiliation of supplying raw products to foreign countries and of purchasing finished commodities from them should not be perpetuated.....
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The cost of operation of the Ten-Year Plan  on the scale suggested is estimated at Rs. 10 crores (Rs, 100 mill.) per annum. Of this sum, 2 crores ..should be provided for , by the Central Government, and Rs. 8 crores should be found by the various Provincial Governments roughly in proportion to their population. For the first five years at least, the recurring expenditure will have to be met by loans, the annual debt charges being debited to the yearly budgets of the governments concerned. It may be reasonably expected that, for the sixth year onward, the industrial and other activities will be sufficiently advanced to bring enough additional revenues to enable the governments to bear this recurring outlay. We say this with all the greater confidence, because we have, as in the United States of America, but unlike other industrially developed countries, a home market to absorb the products of our new industries and manufactures.

(Cure for unemployment)
The number of unemployed persons in the civilised countries of the world according to the statistics given in the League of Nation’s Publications amounts to about 30 million. There are no official statistics for India but the number in it is estimated by those competent to judge at between 40 and 50 million. Of these, perhaps, the educated unemployed constitute a million and a half......
On account of the abnormally excessive concentration of population on agriculture, holdings are small, income is low and poverty conditions are aggravated. It is this single circumstance that is responsible for the industrial inefficiency of India....

(Rebuilding the economic life)
One of the greatest losses to the country is that although India has the fourth largest railway mileage in the world, and double the mileage of Great Britain itself, all locomotives and railway stores are imported, mainly from Great Britain and no encouragement has so far been given to their manufacture in this country. This is because the purchases for the  railways and the army are in British hands.
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A gentleman, who has held two of the highest positions open to Indians and who is a business man himself, remarked to the writer recently that, if he had the control of protective tariffs and railway freight rates, he could bring fabulous wealth to India in the course of a decade.

(A self-developing India)
India must be ruled by national policies if she has to escape from her present low economic position. So long as Great Britain was a free-trade country, she insisted on India also being one such. Happily, the United Kingdom has abandoned this attitude. If India were a free-trade country today, Japan would be flooding  the Indian market with her cheaper products and England would be the first to lose in the bargain. The Japanese goods have been competing successfully today in the Indian market, both with local and British goods because the country is not , even yet, sufficiently protected.

(Sir M. Visvesvaraya, Planned Economy for India, (Bangalore, 1934, 2nd. ed.1936) p. 187 f.)

 

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