I have been reflecting in my own way on Dattopant Thengadi Ji's Third Way. I present these small "ripples" that it has caused in my mind in a series. I am glad it has found its resonance in many thinking minds alike. I hope the readers have read the earlier article in the series before moving ahead.
(The paper was circulated and discussed among intellectuals in October 1992)
Dattopant wrote this on the background of Balance of Payment crisis which made us all give serious thought to this issue, when our gold was to be pledged physically to get a loan. The devaluation of the rupee was an immediate consequence.
He remarked that after Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri the nation witnessed ' the irresponsible race for personal gains, the corruption and the squander mania'. He infers that the actions taken by Dr. Manmohan Singh were the result of all those wrong policies, Dr. Singh hardly had any alternative left, nor did he have any space for maneuvering. The facts and figures are referred by Shri Dattopant that were available in the public space then too.
It was the beginning of liberalization and eventually opening for foreign players and investors. His impression was , this was a situation of advantage monopoly capitalists. Unrestricted technology import without any opportunities for any indigenous alternative provided support to import, instead of presenting any incentive to our industry. It supported profit motive strongly. But the opportunity for the industries to prosper to absorb our labor power was the need of the hour. Expansion of employment avenues was a necessity. Workers displaced with technology were to be provided opportunities. The situation, he opined, should not lead to economic imperialism. Shri Guruji too warned against the arm- twisting by foreign powers and emphasized the need for national self-reliance. Of course, all Hindu nationalists were ridiculed. What politicians did not acknowledge that the situation created was the result of the process that started after Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Our intellectuals were well versed in western models of economic development, no doubt. ( The article refers to many leading economists and their theories. Again explaining those theories is not the purpose of the article nor would this write-up plunge into them. He describes positive points of the theories and some difficulties in adopting them totally) But as Gurudev Tagore describes it 'God has given different question paper to different countries', we ought to have our own model.
These western models were pragmatic and dynamic. But the model suitable to our socio-economic, cultural background was to be developed. Many economists believed that their role was to explain the fact, they were not ready to explain how the things ought to be. Now the futility of these models ( communism and capitalism) are noted by thinkers. The faith in this method is on the test. And we ought to think afresh and find the third way.