jobless growth a result of deviating from ‘gainful employment to all’ policy
Bhubaneswar, 6 January
The jobless growth in the country and the Prime Minister&’s plea that the current slowdown, inflation etc is due to global factors, exemplify how far we have deviated from the Gandhian principle of ‘gainful employment to all’, said noted economist Prabhat Patnaik.
Delivering the Rajkishore Nayak Memorial lecture on relevance of Gandhian economics, Professor Patnaik said the basic element of Gandhian economics was ‘gainful employment to all”. This was the concern of all the large Asian countries and be it Gandhiji, Marx or Mao, each one of them, sought to achieve the same ‘work for all’ goal through their own different models.
Gandhiji was opposed to what he called the “English System” , which a few others interpret as the “capitalist system” where machine , money and profit making overrides all other factors and results in large scale unemployment. The manifestation of such policies are seen in India where the country registered a sterling GDP growth rate of 8 to 10 percent from 2004 to 2009-10 and yet the employment growth was a meager 0.88 per cent. The growth in jobs was less than the population growth rate and hence unemployment increased.
Professor Patnaik rubbished the argument that the neo-liberal capitalist model will initially cause unemployment but in the later stages the jobless will all be absorbed. The land is taken from the farmer and it is said that the farmer will get absorbed at a later stage. He is given monetary compensation, at times, much more than what he would otherwise earn from his land.
“All such talk is historically wrong. In UK and Europe, the same was stated during the industrial revolution but it never happened and large scale migration took place. The displaced never got jobs, they migrated to US, Cananda, New Zealand in lakhs.
“Secondly, the claim of providing monetary compensation and saying that the farmer is getting much more than what he would earn from his agricultural produce is also against the Gandhian principle of ‘gainful employment’. The farmer gets the money but remains idle,” he is unemployed, noted Professor Patnaik.
Referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh&’s statement at a recently held press conference, Professor Patnaik said by blaming global recession or developments for inflation or slowing down of the Indian economy is nothing but an admission of the fact that by adopting the neo-liberal policies we have imported the ills of the European economy.
Whether UPA did better than NDA is not relevant, the issues and concerns are much larger, he observed.Professor Patnaik went on to dispel the wrong perception that Gandhiji was against mechanisation. He was against unemployment. He was against the ‘English system’ which used machines to increase profit.  He welcomed improvement in cottage machinery and other equipments. He was willing to accept mechanisation provided alternative gainful jobs were created for the displaced, said Professor Patnaik.
Marx too felt the same when he said increasing number of arms are demanding work and the arms are getting thinner, he said.
An alternative model of neighborhood economic unit was what Gandhiji wanted. Prof Patnaik went on to refer to the debate between Gandhi and Tagore on use of machines, production etc.
Noted writer Sitakanta Mahapatra, Adhyapak Biswaranjan and freedom fighter Bhabani Pattanaik also addressed the gathering and highlighted the relevance of Gandhiji and the achievements of late Gandhian Rajkishore Nayak.