Asia Society presents; 43
The usual source why he resigned. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your most on this transcribed series is the noted author on the ward winning broadcaster Lee Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. India has been called many things and mostly complimentary. We think of Mother India we think of eternal India. We think a beautiful India but perhaps we don't think too much of India. The industrialized country and that is an adjective which I think we can apply more and more to the country because its economy is going in that direction. Is it going fast enough to suit the country. The people in the government I don't know what are its hopes. I don't know but I think these are questions we'd like answered on this program because many of us have a great interest in this amazing country and so we have a guest who is absolutely right for these questions I think. And he is this new job Mr.
Al who is the consul general of India in New York City. He's held his position for almost a year and a half and he tells me that he likes it very much. He is also the ambassador from his country to Costa Rica. And Mr. Hu is that a little confusing to have to go between Costa Rica and the United States. Keep your thoughts straight. Not at all I find the most interesting contrast and going again. When the life in New York gets a bit too hectic to be able to seek refuge in the tranquility of Costa Rica where the people are very friendly but the government is extremely close and which is in addition a sort of an entree into Central America. I find it a very very fascinating combination and I would not really wish to have it any other way. Yes I suppose there are elements in Costa Rica which are closer to India than some of those that you find in the United States.
There is a great deal of interest in India both in the United States and in Costa Rica. I would say that in point of information there is a great deal more in the United States than there is in Costa Rica. But I found last year when I first went to San Jose that the centenary of Martin Gandhi's butt was being celebrated there on a very large scale. Now taking into account the fact that we do not have a resident mission in Costa Rica the fact that a number of people there could get together and were sufficiently interested in Mark my Gandhi to be able to pool their resources and celebrate our centenary like this on a large scale was very significant and it expressed the amount of interest which there is in things Indian people Indian in countries and Central America and Latin America. Yes that may be surprising to some but of course Gandhi is a
man who is so global so international a man not only of last century but the century that I think he could pull people together wherever they might live to celebrate the fact that he once walked the earth. But would you say that there are certain qualities in Costa Rica perhaps more serenity perhaps a closeness to the soil some of these qualities which you find more Indian than what you find in the United States. See I would say that. These days one is getting so used to things having to be propagated in order to get known that to find there was a human being who without any propaganda of this nature could become a household name in the country's very far removed from his ruin by Costa Rica. It was a remarkable achievement of Martin Gandhi. I think one of the things which makes Costa Rica especially close to India is that in Costa Rica it's one of these remarkable countries which has no
army. They have gone almost farther in so far as nonviolence is concerned in service practice of nonviolence is concerned. That they have dispensed with the use of an army only have our Civil Guards. Not too many of them. And when you visit San Jose for the first time one of the things which impresses you is the remarkable absence of any army or any Civil Guards people on the streets. It's very peaceful very friendly and a beautiful country. When you run you feel refreshed That's a contrast to most countries like India I've got very fond of Costa Rica. Yes Mr. In your country there has been a great deal of economic progress and but many of us I think are not too well and fond of this progress whether it be growth in the population manages not to interfere with the progress or whether the progress is held down by you know the number of people that have to constantly be fed.
So I'm delighted you asked that question because since my arrival in this country I have been feeling a little concerned that the picture of the economic progress which India is making has tended to get a bit out of focus. I think if you look back to the 50s and the early 60s India was always regarded as a developing country which was using its resources in a purposeful meaningful way in order to create a better life for our people. Unfortunately because of too many difficult droughts years from 1965 to 1967 which led to a very sharp fall in the production of food grains in India and which necessitated massive imports of food grains on the United
States. The people in the United States I mean the ordinary people not the experts the experts know the picture very much better than that the ordinary people got the impression that the Indian economy was becoming progressively more and viable that it would need larger and larger injections of foreign aid in the way of food grains and otherwise to keep it going. Now I would like to say prophetically that nothing could really be farther from the truth. Admittedly the difficulties which we faced in those two years are very serious indeed. But we were having drought of unprecedented proportions nature was being as cruel as you can and people who live in countries like India or China sometimes see nature raw in Tooth and Claw.
But what has happened since then is that the adoption of a new agricultural policy based on use of new medical seeds as they are called of wheat particularly And now of rice has brought about a remarkable agricultural transformation in India from a food level production of around seven to nine million tonnes in one thousand sixty eight. We had a record harvest of 95 million tonnes in the following year. The monsoon was not as kind as it could been the previous year but because of the concentrated inputs under the new agricultural policy which meant use of the medical seeds use of fertilizers pesticides. We were able to sustain the production
of food grains at around 96 million tonnes and this year we are expecting to cross the hundred million mark. The difference in the case of India is that we can go in for more intensive agriculture far more easily than you can because we have a much larger population in proportion to the land which is available in India. And also you don't pay people not to grow things as we often do here. We have not yet reached that happy States providing people not to grow. Well it may sound happy but it sounds like a quite illogical and almost ridiculous statement. See the difference between your affluence and relative poverty is so great that it will take us quite some time before we can reach a stage when we pay people for not producing our problems at the moment are far more basic. We need more food grains. We need more industrial products and we need more of everything that our people can produce. When I just say this as a philosophical aside I dont think anyone should ever be paid
not to work or not produce something because somebody somewhere can use it. But not being an official. Thats the last one hundred say about. A large part of that a large part of your population isn't agriculture because you must feed yourselves as much as you can without spending a lot of money on importing foodstuffs. What would you say that you are able to release some of the people who have been in farming now to other occupations. See the proportion of people in India who are working on the land is still very very high in comparison to the United States. We have about 70 percent of our people who are dependent on agriculture. In your case I think the corresponding proportion is somewhere in the region of 10 or 12 percent. So the really the nature of the problems that we are facing are very very different. And in the big cities. The situation is not that there
isn't a shortage of labor or that agriculture is not releasing enough people but it is a question of look eating dog opportunities. Creating work for the large number of people who are coming over who are moving from the countryside to the towns. Now you asked me earlier on about what we have done in the field of industry. I did not answer this question directly at the time mainly because it was anxious to try to restore the perspective on the economic advance that is taking place in India and I would like at this stage to move over if I may to this question of the Industrial Development which has taken place in India. Now the development has really been in many ways quite remarkable. Our industrial production today is more than three times the industrial production in India.
When we became independent in one hundred forty seven. And the difference is not many in terms of quantity. It is also a qualitative difference because at the time we had basically three or four major industries due to manufacture's centered around Calcutta D. In S-M in West Bengal and in the south cotton Dixville industry which was located in Bombay and with about area and a relatively small sugar industry and a relatively small steel industry. The production of steel in India for example had hovered around the figure of one million tonnes for something like 30 years. If you were a student of economics who has to remember a lot of statistics this could be very easy because you do not have to vary from year to year
about how the industrial production is moving. It was relatively static the indices were about the same. But while it might be easy on the memory of words student of economics it was very very harmful to the country which needed more of steel which needed more of machinery and equipment and which needed more production. What we have succeeded in doing after 1947 is that we have got the industry moving from this period of relative stagnation over a long period of time into a period of fairly rapid growth the rate of growth of industry has been on an average around 8 percent a year. There are years which have been better. There are years which would have been relatively less good. But on an average we've succeeded in maintaining a rate of industrial advance of 8 percent leading to a tripling in the industrial production in twenty one twenty two years. Now when I talked about the qualitative change which has come about
what I had in mind was that today we are not only producing all the consumer goods or almost all the consumer goods that we need in India but we are also producing machines which can make more machines. In other words the bulk of the machinery and equipment that India requires even in some sophisticated sectors is being produced entirely in India. Our steel production today is about six and a half seven million tons compared with a little over 1 million duns. When we became independent we had in fact significant exporters of steel to countries in our neighborhood countries and Southeast Asia countries in the Middle East. And last year we even exported some steel to the United States of America. We had exporters in such sophisticated feels as transmission line equipment for transmission of electricity. Now today the two major exporters of
transmission line equipment strangely enough or India and Italy every time there's a large tender for installation of transmission line equipment in a country the do countries which are competing against each other or India and Italy in some cases the wind in other cases we do not affected. Which was known as being somewhat backwards somewhat behindhand in industrial development can step into the field of sophisticated exports of machinery equipment transmission line towers and so on is an indication of the remarkable transformation that has taken place. I never like to think of India as a country that was backward at any time but always as a country that was different and that had a different concept of the world. And then finally saw that perhaps this current civilization is one that has to be joined and then decided to do it and is doing it very well.
That you export as much as you do however I think must surprise many people. Your exports have gone up. What would you say to what extent lost exports went up by a relatively modest proportion to 4 percent the year before they recorded an advance of 10 percent. How about your home industries. Are you I notice one often sees in beautiful boxes and silks and things made by skilled artisans of India. Are you exporting these products as well so we are exporting more and more of these just to the United States and to Canada to Western Europe and other affluent countries. In addition we are producing a lot of these for the home market also because these things of beauty are very much a part of our life. And one of the reasons which enables us to keep these industries going is the fact that skilled labor in India is still relatively speaking inexpensive.
Because if we were to have the sort of labor wages that you have here it becomes so prohibitively expensive to produce these items and market them that we would just have to go out of this particular business. But because of the fact that we have a tremendous amount of skilled manpower available who have inherited the skills generation to generation coming down from the grandfather to the Father from the father to the son that we have been able to keep these up. But we hope that Hannah Graham Yeah lose them it would be a tragedy if these two disappear. It's so important to keep them in character as you well know. I entirely agree because you replaced an important part in life then it would be a pity I mean a tractor is useful but you would want it around the house and not around the house. But on the come on the farms we would love them. Yet Mr. White do you see as your country's greatest needs then industrially and economically speaking. Is it aggression of getting more dollars or more currency into the country. A question of
retraining some of your people what you see as your main need. See I would say that what we have to do is in the first place continue and intensify of a new agricultural policy with concentrated attention on the agricultural sector because there's no getting away from the fact that this is the backbone of our economy. If agriculture is doing well the industry will do well almost automatically because it is the farmers who provide the market for the products of our industry. So this policy must be continued and must be strengthened. On the side of industry I think we need to resume the investments in industry which were taking place till the drought years of 1965 67 interrupted the process to some extent. We are finding that in sectors where until a short while ago we had
surpluses we were running into deficits because the farmers have been doing well. They are demanding more and more consumer goods. The production of more and more consumer goods requires production of more machinery and equipment and the intern industry which was suffering until a couple of years ago from recessionary conditions has recovered and has resumed its advance. Now we've got to make certain that enough investment is going into industry. For the people in India to be able to meet their requirements of consumer goods and of producing goods in adequate measure up to some of your investment of course comes from the outside. But how about the great Tartuffe family they've always aroused my curiosity and admiration must be an extraordinary family. What role do they play. They played a pioneering role in Indian industry. For example the very first steel mill that we had in India was due to the
initiative of Jim should you Tata who was the founder of the family as well. And since then they have diversified a great deal. For example they have a considerable amount of share in India which is a nationalized undertaking it is controlled by the government. But others have a very important share in it. And Mr. the ADI Tata is the chairman of Air India. And they have gone in a great deal into a number of different branches of industry and have been doing exceedingly well. You say they have provided I think all kinds of incentives haven't they and the means whereby you could develop that they are extraordinary among people and I think want to be known about them. See they have indeed done a remarkable job of work yes but at the same time we feel in India that we should not go in for tremendous acclamations of industrial power in WA in the hands of in the hands of a
limited number of families. And the result is that what we are trying to do is to see that industrial power is dispersed to as large an extent as feasible and also seeing to it that in the process of continuing industrial advance the needs of social justice are not overlooked because in a country like India where the large majority of people is very poor. It is essential that they should all have the feeling that they are sharing in the results of the progress that is being made. And we feel that if at this stage there were to be a tremendous amount of concentration of wealth or of industrial power into the hands of a few people that this could conceivably lead to adverse effects. You said it wrong. It is the price a country pays for the know how of a particular group. Which brings the country forward. But at the same time acquires wealth for itself. Still you need
some of their qualities. The same time you want them to become too powerful. Well that is something I'm sure that the government knows best. Most certainly yes. There is one last thing which I would very much like to say. It seems a great pity that at a time when the prospects of development in India are looking brighter than at any time in the past. That a very important country like the United States should be losing interest in foreign aid because I cannot think of any time when not me India but other developing countries would profit more would benefit more by economic aid on an adequate scale than the kind of president Mr. I'm sure your message will be had by the right people.
Thank you very much for being on our program. And I'd like to tell our audience that you've had the pleasure of listening to this new job Mr. Al who is Consul General of India in New York although he covers Eighteen of the of our United States in his position and is also ambassador from his country to Costa Rica. I thank you and goodbye. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham. This series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7 and make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the Asia Society presents. This is the national educational radio network.
- Asia Society presents
- Episode Number
- Producing Organization
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-6-43 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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