Special Correspondent

`There is considerable stagnation in the agriculture sector' "Our vision of India cannot be one that is half California and half sub-Saharan Africa"

HYDERABAD: The rapid growth of the country's economy in the recent past notwithstanding, India cannot become a major player in the global economy unless it completed the land reform process, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said here on Tuesday.

It was important to unleash the kind of energy that China had done to emerge as a global player, for which land reforms were extremely important. The land reform process, which kept the economies of States like West Bengal, where it was fairly complete, floating, was substantially incomplete in the country.

Delivering a lecture on "science and practical reason" at the 93rd Indian Science Congress which got off here on Tuesday, he expressed concern that there was considerable distress in the agriculture sector due to the sharp contrast it had with the upwardly mobile industrial and urban segments. There was considerable stagnation in the sector causing asymmetries and inequalities within the country.

"Our vision of India cannot be one that is half California and half sub-Saharan Africa," he said. The country could draw lessons from the second phase of land reforms initiated in China, which helped the country achieve extraordinarily rapid expansion over the past two decades.

The development of social infrastructure in health and education also could make a "dramatic difference" in rural India. The rural schools were dogged by problems of teacher absenteeism, neglect of pupils from poor and disadvantaged sections and non-functioning of the inspectorate system.

The absenteeism of healthcare officials in many areas coupled with the inadequate facilities for primary healthcare was another area where efforts should be made to strengthen public health services. This was giving scope for exploitation of the patients by quacks.

Quoting a survey conducted in a district of Jharkhand, he said while 62 per cent of the people depended on quacks, another 14 per cent go to ojhas and magic healers, "who are mercifully somewhat less expensive than quacks."

"There is a strong need for reducing the dependence of the people, particularly the rural poor, on exploitative private healthcare," he said.