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MMuch of the public discourse in the last few months centered around the Amartya Sen vs Jagadish Bhagwati camps, symbolising the growth versus development debate. Led by the thoughts propounded by Nobel laureate and economist Amartya Sen, the Development school wants the government to give priority to public spending on health care and welfare measures and not focus solely on economic reforms. The Jagadish Bhagwati – Arvind Panagariya school on the other hand wants the government to accelerate economic reforms because that would lead to economic growth, bringing jobs for the poor and resources for improving social infrastructure. This debate stands accentuated by the strain on the economy caused by a recessionary climate and the declining value of the rupee against the dollar amidst the possibility of an oil shock caused by a U.S.-led war against Iraq. The questions posed by the well-known social crusader Harsh Mander in his essay on the Food Security Bill challenge the premise that India cannot afford to feed its poor as attempted by the bill which was passed recently in the Lok Sabha.

As Mander says, “The overwhelming evidence from high growth years is that this has been a period of virtually jobless growth, which underlines that there is no substitute for public investment to enhance livelihoods.” He has suggested that India must enhance the integrity of its tax efforts “to ensure investments in the nutrition, health and education of the working poor”. Also, that failure to attend to the basic needs of the poor while singularly pursuing the agenda of growth would have serious, irreparable consequences on the well-being nation. A balance between the two approaches is necessary with an emphasis on good governance and good execution of policies and programmes.

The murder of anti-superstition crusader Dr. Narendra Dabholkar took everyone in the country by surprise, especially the people in Maharashtra. This was because it was through entirely non-violent means that Dr. Dabholkar was pursuing his mission of enlightening the poor of their exploitation through blind faith. Our tribute to this modern-day social reformer throws greater light on the significance of his work. Dr. Dabholkar paid for his convictions with his life, but he will not stand defeated. His movement will only grow from strength to strength from here on.

Our goal at CfB is to present an array of thought-provoking articles that inspire hope, reflect a striving towards change for the better and remind us to stay rooted in values that give us inner strength. We bring to you articles and essays that are generated in-house and those that are sourced from other publications for your benefit.

Do go through the various sections of CfB and send us your feedback and suggestions to improve future editions.

 

With best wishes,
Abhay Vaidya

Editor, Change for Better

 

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