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Home / India News / HT Archives| Policy of controls takes away creative genius of people: GD Birla

HT Archives| Policy of controls takes away creative genius of people: GD Birla

Under the regime of a thousand “don’ts,” the man who is interested in producing more, feels a bit bewildered at all this talk of hard work when he finds himself bound hand and foot and yet asked to run.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2020 08:18 IST
GD Birla
GD Birla
Hindustan Times
Indian political and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi with GD Birla at Boulogne station on the way to England to attend the Round Table Conference as the representative of the Indian Nationals.
Indian political and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi with GD Birla at Boulogne station on the way to England to attend the Round Table Conference as the representative of the Indian Nationals.(HT Archives/ Getty Images)

It is a great achievement of the times that everyone in the country has begun to realise that hard work and increased production alone is the remedy for scarcity, inflation, higher prices, black markets, poverty and unemployment. The question that still requires answer is how to get people to work hard and increase production to achieve the end.

There is a vast multitude of people with talents, energy, desire and enthusiasm who wish to help in the reconstruction of the country and yet do not know what to do. There is no task assigned to them and, therefore, the appeal for hard work sounds to their ears rather meaningless. This multitude may include a student who has just come out of college. He is patriotic and enthusiastic; is full of ambition; has energy, ability and all other qualifications needed in a man of promise. But what is he to do without tools or without a field? He knocks at a few doors and then sits down disgruntled and discontented.

An agriculturist may want to get a better yield out of his land. He has too tiny a plot for mechanisation. Yet he knows he could achieve a lot with better ploughs, better irrigation, more manure and better seeds. Better roads for transport again can help him a lot.

But how is he to get all these things? Better ploughs and more tubewells with their equipment need more steel. Better roads require more cement. Two steel plants were put up in this country long before we got Independence. There were plans to expand them to produce more. But after we became independent, they led nowhere. Why?

There are reasons into which I need not go. The productive capacity of the cement industry is enough to cope with the present demand. Yet there is a scarcity.A landlord feels the need for building new houses which are badly needed by the public. But under the Rent Control Act, if he puts up new houses, he cannot recover even one percent yield on his investment. So he withholds his hand.

Under the regime of a thousand “don’ts,” the man who is interested in producing more, feels a bit bewildered at all this talk of hard work when he finds himself bound hand and foot and yet asked to run. The truth is that there is no task before the public into which it can throw itself with zeal and fervour.

The achievement of Indian industry thus is not small. It built itself up against heavy odds when there was no encouragement.

It could achieve much more in a free atmosphere. It is a paradox that it should have stagnated only after we got Independence. The explanation is simple. The doors of creation, organisation, efficiency and incentive have been bolted and barred under the directives of “don’ts.” The government only tells us what not to do. As long as this regimentation continues, we have a strait-jacket imposed on us which allows no freedom of movement. That precludes team work; creates inefficiency, black markets, scarcity and corruption; and brings down the standard of the people, morally as well as economically.

The so-called controls take away the creative genius of the people; make them servile and dependent on government; create unemployment, misery and poverty and consequently deep dissatisfaction and discontent. I sympathise with the desire to bring down the cost of living.

But it is forgotten that the policy of controls alone cannot bring down prices. Ultimately, it is the larger supply and reduced cost of production that can exert the required pressure on high cost. Only balanced controls, operated in a judicious manner, with an eye on increased production, can bring down the cost of living.

(GD Birla was a renowned industrialist and the owner of Hindustan Times)