`Focus must on elimination of starvation'

DHARWAD NOV. 13. N.A. Majumdar, former Adviser to the Reserve Bank of India, has said that the increasing stress on eliminating poverty should be replaced by a programme for the elimination of starvation.

Delivering the M.L. Dantwala Memorial Lecture at Karnatak University here on Wednesday, Dr. Majumdar said it would not be possible to solve the problem of starvation even after two more decades of efforts to reduce poverty. He described the post-liberalisation era as one of "growth without development".

The country was facing the problem of ensuring the proper distribution of 60 million tonnes of foodgrains. Commending the Karnataka and other State governments for launching midday meal schemes for schoolchildren, Dr. Majumdar said instead of abandoning the programme owing to some shortcomings, efforts should be made to rid the scheme of problems.

The midday meal scheme had resulted in "productive addition" to the human capital, he said.

Dr. Majumdar was critical of the policy of importing a "non-productive asset" such as gold at a time when the country was facing a severe power shortage.

He said everything was not proper on the trade front, and suggested that the Government stop the export of wheat and rice, which, due to the subsidy component inherent in it, would result in the loss of foreign exchange.

Dr. Majumdar regretted that foreign exchange was being wasted due to encouragement given to tourism, which he defined as a "non-productive activity". On the industrial front, he said there was a need to strengthen institutions such as the Industrial Development Bank of India, which were doing an excellent job and had become the role models for other developing countries.

Instead of developing financial institutions to revive industries, the focus was shifting towards capital markets, he said. Nationalised banks should pay more attention to provide credit to agricultural sector, he added.

Khaja Peer, Vice-Chancellor of Karnatak University, presided over the function. M.S. Subash, Director of Kausali Institute of Management Studies of the university, welcomed the gathering. T.K. Meti and K.C. Hiremath spoke.

Sushant, secretary of the Management Association of KIMS, proposed a vote of thanks.

The memorial lecture had been jointly organised by Kausali Institute of Management Studies and the Karnataka Economic Society.