India’s New Economic Policy - 1
03 / 1994
India’s new economic policy introduced in 1991 has had far reaching effects on the people especially the poor. The structural adjustment programme (SAP)is clearly not beneficial to the poor, ecologically unsustainable and gender insensitive. The government and the world bank quote indications of growth; The decrease of the inflation rate increased foreign exchange reserves and foreign investment.
But groups of NGOs and academics working with poor and disadvantaged have assessed SAP’s impact on them in a concrete manner. They wanted to assess the marginalisation of the poor which cannot be decided through statistical with other countries.
The living standards of the poor depend directly on wages and employment opportunities rather than economic performance alone. With SAP, expenditure on welfare was reduced and jobs cut. Employment opportunities for the poor were examined, especially for women and unskilled workers.
The living standards of the poor are affected depending on their access to health, education, public distribution services and credit institutions. This access is a clear indicator.
Increasing emphasis on export crops in processed foods to boost exports may make farmers shift from food to cash crops. If small farmers have done so how has it effected their household economy?
The study was confined to these three areas. Research was not only academic inquiry but should develop a critical understanding of the new economic policy and use this awareness to exercise their civic rights. This social perspective guided them to conduct their research in partnership with local grassroots groups. They would monitor the impact, study and subsequently use the information to educate the people in the area and carry on awareness campaigns and guide grassroots groups. The area covered was five areas in Gujerat representing the poor population. A questionnaire was based on these three key concerns - employment access to welfare services and shifts in agricultural practice. A number of pilot surveys were conducted and this reflects the survey of 5 weeks in August/September 1993 and will be repeated every six months.
It is important to find out if these facts are relevant to similar groups in other countries.
This was a research document produced by UNNATI in Ahmedabad, India.
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