The Exclusive Agenda beneath the Mantra of ‘Inclusive’ Economic Development: Some Reflections

[Welcome Speech and Introduction to the theme of the National Seminar “Emerging Issues in the Business Environment and their Implications upon Development” Two day UGC—Sponsored National Seminar jointly conducted by Post Graduate Departments of Commerce and Economics, Government College, Malappuram. March 14 (Wednesday) and 15 (Thursday) of 2007.]

SANTHOSH T VARGHESE Lecturer Post Graduate Dept. of Economics Government College, Malappuram Affiliated to Calicut University, Kerala http://www.santhoshtv.in http://www.alwayseconomics.blogspot.com http://www.facts-unmasked.blogspot.com

This seminar is being conducted in a dismal situation where a number of people were butchered at the alter of the so-called great development initiative in the name of SEZs. Perhaps, we are in the making of a record of sorts; a record for slaughtering helpless and hapless people in the name of economic development. Are we shattering the cherished dream of economic development so passionately envisioned by the founders of this great republic? In another plane, politicians, policy makers and even academicians are chanting the all-new mantra of ‘inclusive growth and development’. The approach paper of the 11th five year plan titled its fourth chapter as, ‘Strategic Initiatives for Inclusive Development’. But strictly speaking, the concept of ‘inclusive economic development’ is fraught with theoretical ambiguity. It gives the impression that it germinates from lack of theoretical lucidity, even though the concept of inclusive growth is plausible otherwise. Why should we talk about 1

‘inclusive economic development’ when the concept of economic development itself is inherently inclusive? Moreover, the concept has different connotations that it alludes that ‘exclusive development—in the sense that developmental activities excludes different sections of the society—is also possible. If economic development is not inclusive it cannot be considered as economic development any more rather it should be something else which is far away from the concept as understood in the literature. It all seems that we need to discuss, re-discover and reinforce the meaning of economic development, as, so expatiated by stalwarts of economic science right from Antonio Serra of Naples, the first economic theorist according to Prof. Joseph Schumpeter to the Indian pride Amarthya Kumar Sen. Sen redefines development as entitlements that build capabilities that help human beings to enjoy freedom for which they have reason to believe. In other words, development is to be redefined in terms of universalisation and the effective exercise of all human rights: political, civil and civic; economic, social and cultural; as well as collective rights to development and environment. If economic development is defined and understood in this manner why should we waste words in the form of ‘inclusive economic development’? Or is it a decoy to divert attention from the core and fundamental issues of economic development itself? The seminar realises that it is high time to introspect and ponder in this respect. The ambiguity in the understanding of development and the futility in the zest and zeal for rhetorical terms, become pertinent in the present economic scenario. On the one side, we see the mad rush for Special Exploitation Zones. On the other side we witness sky-rocketing growth rates for the privileged class and the nose diving share of GDP for the majority, who wane and wilt in the agricultural sector. It all seems that we do not understand properly the very basic tenets of economic science.

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It is an all simple question and nothing complex is there as in the case of space research here. How we can proclaim progress when we displace people from their own land and make them refugees in their own region, how we can broadcast from the roof top that we are marching towards full employment when small and marginal employment generation activities are in the threat of being decimated. It is an all simple question, but solution to these nagging problems can be visualised only if our vision is incisive enough and free from the influence of free market philosophy. We always pontificate the efficiency and wisdom of market forces arising out of competition but our entrepreneurs and enterprises are so scared about real competition in their on respective fields. No body wants the virtues of market mechanism that arise from competition rather all wants only monopoly elements to be tightly reinforced in their own fields all in the name of virtues of market mechanism!! Take a simple example from the media industry and I am not naming any one. Market leaders in different segments spend uncountable space and time for educating the virtues of market reforms. But they seldom allow competitive elements to be flourished in their own segments. They virtually preach the virtues of market mechanism but adopt and follow only monopoly practices!! Remember, virtues of market friendly reforms do not flow from monopoly market practices. It will flow only from a situation where assets and capabilities are accessible to all and any attempt to dominate the market space will always increase the monopoly power. This deep gap between rhetoric and practise is so glaring and the seminar wants to take note of that as it will badly defeat whatever progress we have achieved so far. It is in this backdrop we organise this national seminar. We have got some eminent academicians who did good research work in the respective areas. The keynote speaker Dr. KJ Joseph, fellow of CDS, is a well known economist whose present interest hovers around the growth and development of Asian economies. Further, we have professor in marketing from IIM Kozhikode Dr. Anadakuttan 3

Unnithan and Dr. Joseph Thomas to criss-cross the hot issue of corporate entry to the retailing scenario. For the second session that deals with the issue of SEZs, we have TG Jacob who did his doctoral research at JNU on the problem of agricultural land utilisation of Waynadu. For the last session of mergers, acquisition and competitiveness we have Dr. Beena PL who did her doctoral research in the same topic under CP Chandrasekhar of JNU. We have many other speakers as well who conduct research in the respective areas. All these scholars confirmed their presence in the seminar, though some slight changes would be there with respect to their arrival. Coming to the inaugural session we have invited the chairman of South Malabar Grameen Bank. Unfortunately he could not turn up here for this session. Mr. Ramesh Kumar, Senior GM of the bank will inaugurate the seminar. I extend you hearty welcome to this academic congregation. Principal Dr. KK Mohamed is always the source of strength behind all our activities. When the UGC sanctioned the grant for a joint conduct of the seminar by the depts. of commerce and economics, this much enthusiasm for conducting the seminar was not there, sicnce it initially seemed that it was highly difficult to identify a theme equally acceptable for both the depts. Activities were totally lethargic in the early stages. But his constant motivation and enquiry about the progress of the seminar preparations, that really increased the pace of our activities. With out that intervention we could not have pursued the organisation of the seminar to this stage. On behalf of all the delegates and participants and on behalf of the seminar secretariat I extend you sir whole hearted welcome to this seminar. PTA is an important pillar upon which the activities of institutions like this take their foundation both in terms of money and support. And Abdul rassaq master is an affable person to whom we can share and discuss our concerns. I extend you sir cheerful welcome to this occasion.

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Alumni association is one among the very active organisations that function in the college and they always ahead in planning and implementing innovative projects for the college. Secretary of the organisation Adv. Kunjumuhamed Paravath is with us and I extend you sincere welcome to this august occasion. My senior colleagues including Vice principal and HOD of Commerce Mr P K Velayudhan, Mr. YC Ibrahim HOD of Economics dept, Mr P Moideen kutty representing science faculty, Mr. Sabari K Ayyappan representing Humanities faculty, Mr PP Narayanan representing Social science faculty, college union chairman all are with us for the successful conduct of the seminar. On behalf of the seminar secretariat I extend you all, hearty welcome to this academic discourse. Last but not least, (Before concluding, as the coordinator of the seminar I want to welcome all) the delegates and the participants of the seminar who came up here to make this event a grand gala success. We have teachers, research scholars and PG students from different parts of the state registered for the seminar. With out you the seminar has no meaning at all. I extend you all red carpet welcome to this academic discourse. It is often said in a jocular manner that seminar is a place where the confusion of the speaker gets multiplied by the number of participants! I hope we would get a different experience from here. Now let me conclude my speech here. Thanks, thanks to all.

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