Dr. Gummadi Sridevi, Assistant Professor, School of Economics at UoH has filed this report for UoH Herald on the two-day national seminar on “Economic Growth and Marginalized Groups: A Search for Inclusive Policy” held on March 24 – 25, 2014
A two-day national seminar on “Economic Growth and Marginalized Groups: A Search for Inclusive Policy” was inaugurated by Prof. C. H. Hanumantha Rao, the Chancellor of University of Hyderabad at the School of Economics, University of Hyderabad (UoH) on March 24, 2014. Dr. G. Sridevi, the seminar coordinator in her introductory remarks expressed that although there has been agenda of inclusive growth in place from the first five year plan onwards in India, still one can find exclusion and discrimination of a large part of citizenry based upon caste, region, gender and religion etc.
Prof. G. Nancharaiah, Dean, School of Economics, UoH welcomed the delegates and stated that even after 66 years of independence we’ve not been able to progress satisfactorily on welfare measures for the people. Further, people from marginalized sections lag behind the development radar due to significant gap in access to land, educational attainment, health facilities and income levels.
Prof. Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, Vice-Chancellor, UoH who presided over the inaugural session, observed that the topic of the seminar is very timely as we’re dealing with many forms of discrimination that are also subtle in nature. He gave the example of gender discrimination citing the study from the Indian Academy of Science, which brought to the light that for same qualification and experience level, there exists high probability for a male candidate to be selected compared to a female candidate.
In his inaugural address, the Chancellor, Prof. C. H. Hanumantha Rao observed that India’s 12th five year plan has prime focus on “Inclusive Growth”. It is recognized that setting right sectoral priorities is not sufficient for achieving inclusive growth. Marginalized groups can avail the opportunities for setting up enterprises and securing jobs in these sectors only when they have access to the resources like land, capital, education and skills without being subjected to various forms of discrimination. On agriculture he commented that there is a need to continue the existing ceiling laws by liberalizing tenancy laws to access institutional credit in the context of growing dependence on agriculture from marginalized sections.
Prof. R. Radhakrishna, Chairman, CESS, Hyderabad delivered the keynote address. He described that in post reforms period, Indian economy shifted to market oriented growth by replacing the level of investment and support for public sector. He emphasized upon the greater role of the State to play in development process as an agent of economic change to ensure economic growth with inclusiveness. He also pointed that incidence of poverty level is much higher among SCs and STs compared to general population. He also observed that the socio- economic conditions STs of north- east are better as they have political power.
The panel discussion on “Economic Discrimination and Role of State” was chaired by Prof. G. Nancharaiah. Sri Bojja Tarakam, Prof Duraisamy, Prof Kancha Ilaiah and Prof Indrakant were the panelists. They emphasized on how the caste discrimination took place which gave rise to power relationships between upper castes and marginalized groups. An emphasis was laid on understanding discrimination through violence unleashed upon marginalized communities in general and dalits in particular. They emphasized on the role of state as welfare state to improve the conditions of marginalized and minorities.
The technical session on “Access to Land and Marginalized groups” chaired by Prof Galab and Dr. Lakshminarayana acted as discussant. The session focused on distribution pattern of land holdings between the various groups. On the whole, the discussion was centered over the caste system and its effect on access to land. The papers stressed on the need for proper implementation of land reforms in the wake of unequal distribution of land among social groups. During this discussion, Prof Lakshmi Narayana had opined that the success story of East Asia is basically because of the proper implementation of land reforms. Prof Galab emphasized on need for tenancy reforms as well.
The special lecture by Prof M.H Suryanarayana stressed on economic growth and the marginalized. He questioned the concept and norms of inclusive growth. He concluded that the sustainability of inclusive growth needs participation in economic activity, receive rewards for it and enjoy it. He also introduced a methodology for measuring inclusiveness by inclusive coefficient.
The next technical session focused on “Access to health and education” chaired by Prof Mark Lindley and Dr Nagaraju acted as discussant. Papers on this theme brought out issues relating to problems in terms of accessibility to health and education faced by marginalized groups. The focus was majorly on primary and higher education, inequality, food security, finance for health care, inclusiveness in agriculture so as to provide food security to the masses. It also dealt with need for boosting the public expenditure for health care which was merely 1 % of GDP to around 3%. High pocket expenditure on health care can precisely push poor and marginalized families into the abyss of poverty and further deprivation. Senior citizens who are considered as unproductive labour should be given importance and investment in their security measures should be improved. Importance should also given to primary and higher education stressing upon need for government intervention/reforms for improving accessibility.
The next day of the seminar started with special lecture by Dr PK Mohanty on “Economic growth and urban poverty: challenges of Inclusive urbanization” chaired by Prof Ramakrishna Ramaswamy (VC, UoH). He looked into the policies to be introduced for inclusive growth. More emphasis was laid on the urban India with even more concentration on vulnerable communities. He emphasized on the issues in urban areas especially accessibility, availability and affordability of land in cities and gave some directions to the reforms. Plan documents focus on inclusive growth. It should be understood that growth percolation can’t be ensured without deliberate institutional efforts so as to empower the deprived sections of society.
Prof. G. Nancharaiah spoke on “Indian Economic Policy and Dalits: Post Independence Period” chaired by Prof A V Raja. He put forward various issues of development in general and marginalized groups in particular. He observed that Indian economic policy emphasis on the active role of the state in accelerated growth with justice right from first five year plan. The land reform which was initiated in post-independence period was seen as a major anti-poverty programme besides raising productivity and bringing equity. But land reform is a failure in bringing equity and as a result the gains did not reach the vulnerable section such as agriculture labour who are mostly from socially disadvantaged sections. The incidence of poverty is much higher among SC/ST compared to general population. There is no any significant improvement in access to land for dalits and they remind as mostly agricultural labour even after 66 years of independence
Prof Gopinath Reddy spoke on “Deprivation of Marginalized groups: A snap shot o few selective indications in India” chaired by Prof Manohar Rao. He marked that prominent positions held by marginalized groups is important to achieve decentralization and other democratic processes. He also noted that India is a formal democracy and not a real or sustainable democracy. He pointed out that empowerment and improving social-economic life are major components of inclusive growth. Most importantly, reduction or abolition of monopolization of wealth was given limelight.
The technical session on “Food, Poverty and Inequality” chaired by Prof Suryanarayana and Prof Naresh Kumar Sharma acted as discussant. The papers discussed on transparency and accountability of the food security provision. It deals on how ration card dealer of fair price shops act as monopolist and also talks about alternative mechanism of delivery of food security. There was also a paper on livelihood issues of marginalized. Lives of marginalised are dominated by land owning castes. This session also dealt with conflicts which arise in process of reconciliation of primitive accumulation process and modern methods by critique Kalyan Sanyal on Primitive accumulation.
Professor Thangaraj delivered valedictory address, in which he brought out interlinkages between land, caste and gender. He observed that Land reform legislations, enacted mainly with objective to redistribute land to the landless and other poor, could not alter the agrarian structure as land operated by the Scheduled Castes continued to be low even after fifty years of implementation. Another interesting observation is that how women are denied equal rights to access, inherit, or own land, and further felt that even after amendments to The Hindu succession Act which transfers property equally among both gender groups. Larger proportion of women could not inherit their ancestral land due to the strong prevalence of customs.