In charts: Six challenges India faced in 1947 – and how it has fared in battling them

It’s clear that the nation has yet to build the ‘noble mansion’ that Jawaharlal Nehru dreamed of.

In the decade leading up to 1947, undivided India was ravaged by famines and food scarcity. Soon as India became independent, it was confronted with a food and milk crisis. The country had to import 55,000 tonnes of milk powder every year in the early 1950s, according to government records.

India was not yet one, its territorial integrity was being challenged, the 1948 war had complicated an already-fraught relationship with Pakistan, new state institutions had to be built, and so on. Through it all, food security could not be compromised. Self-sufficiency was, after all, a key agenda of independent India’s first leaders, and tied deeply to nationalism.

In a radio address to the nation in 1952, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru declared:

“We want to develop a balanced economy and, as far as possible, promote self-sufficiency…I shall mention a few of the targets we have laid down. The first one is that of food. We must become self-sufficient in food and not be dependent on other countries for our most essential requirements. The [Five Year] Plan will raise food production by nearly 8 million tonnes.”

The aim to make India self-sufficient soon extended to industry. By the mid-50s, rapid and large-scale industrialisation became the mantra; it would spur economic growth, thereby raising income levels and improving people’s quality of life. The policy was rooted in an idea Nehru had discussed in the planning committee of the Indian National Congress in the late 1930s: a planned economy with emphasis on public sector industry and policy interventions. This economic roadmap came to be called the Nehru-Mahalanobis model.

In 1951-52, when the first Five Year Plan was launched, India’s gross domestic product was Rs 2.8 lakh crore and the GDP growth rate was 2.33%. By the end of the Plan, the GDP was Rs 3.5 lakh crore and growth rate 5.6%, according to government data. By the end of the Third Five Year Plan in 1965-66, the GDP was Rs 4.8 lakh crore.

Notably, the GDP grew by 5% or more six times from 1951-’52 to 1964-’65, the data shows. In 1967-’68, it touched 8% for the first time. Although food shortage and scarcity, lengthy waiting periods for consumer goods such as telephone and cooking gas, stuttering industrial expansion continued, and a large population remained poor, India had been set forth on the path to economic growth.

Growing up

Compared to the first four decades of the 20th century, the turnaround in India’s economy in the 1950s was quite dramatic, said Pulapre Balakrishnan, a professor of economics at Ashoka University who has studied the Nehruvian era. There is no basis for any economist to discount the claim that the Indian economy’s foundation was set in that decade, Balakrishnan said. The only shortcoming was that sufficient investment was not made in elementary education, and in endowing people with capabilities. In a paper published in November 2014, Balakrishnan wrote:

“We have strong reason to believe that the mechanism of economic growth in India that has prevailed for close to half a century by now was set off via the coordinated public-policy interventions of the Nehru era. It is yet to be demonstrated that this could have been enabled by some other known strategy. However, the failure to initiate a programme of investing widely in human capital has meant that growth here has been neither as fast nor as widespread as it has been to our east.”  

Nehru’s emphasis on self-sufficiency as an aspect of nationalism was perhaps understandable given that he and his colleagues were children of the anti-imperialist movement. Over the years, many economists and policy wonks have picked holes in the Nehruvian model and rubbished it for its “Fabian socialism”. Others have refuted this unflattering view, though. The economist Deepak Nayyar, for one, has shown that the turning point in India’s growth trajectory did come about in 1951 – then again in 1980 – and that from 1950 to 1980, the growth was respectable, in a radical departure from the past. Neeraj Hatekar, former head of the economics department at the University of Mumbai, and his colleagues have demonstrated how the 1950s marked a structured break from the past.

Relying on the economist S Sivasubramonian’s data, Balakrishnan arrayed the growth rate of three key sectors – agriculture, industry and services – to map the trajectory of the Nehruvian economy. He analysed the data for three periods – 1900-’01 to 1946-’47, 1950-’51 to 1964-’65, and 1947-’48 to 1999-2000 – and showed that “not only does growth in the Nehru era amply exceed what was attained in the final half-century of colonial rule but the quickening of the economy observed over the second half of the 20th century may be seen to have been already achieved in the Nehru era.”

Unequal nation

The failure of the early decades after Independence was the nation’s incapability or unwillingness to transform economic growth into well-being for all Indians, down to the last person in the line. We were thus left with a country where, as the ever-suffering poor mother of the engineering student in the Bollywood film 3 Idiots observed, a pizza is guaranteed to reach your doorstep in 30 minutes, but there is no guarantee an ambulance ever will.

It is a country where tens of children die gasping for breath because the hospital won’t pay for oxygen – and a section of Indians justifies it. A country where hunger-malnutrition has reached epidemic proportions, where violence against women and minorities threatens its social fabric, and where much work remains to be done.

We would do well to remember these lines from Nehru’s famous “Tryst with Destiny” speech of August 15, 1947:

“To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.”  

This is the concluding article of a two-part series on the progress India has made since 1947. The first part can be read here.

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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.