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HowAmartyaSencamebackfromHanoiandfeltlikehewasin
FatehpurSikri

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AsectionoftheCalcuttaairportonSeptember3,2015

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AnandabazarPatrikaEpaper

AtCalcuttaairport
Thereispovertyandwemustacceptthatforthispovertyalleviation,weneedaneconomic
planwiththehelpofbusiness.Iamnotsayingthatwedon'tneedbusiness.Wereallyneed
business.

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WhenIcamebackfromHanoi(inVietnam)andsatintheairport,IdidnotseewhatIhave
seeninotherairports,eveninHanoi.Therewasalotofactivity,andalotofpeoplecoming
andgoing.Ididnotseethathere.ItfeltlikeIwasinFatehpurSikri(theimperialMughal
complexthatwasabandoned)somewhat.Hugecorridors,luggageconveyorbeltsturning,
butdearthofflights.Thatmustbeattributedtoadearthofbusiness.
Thatwasnotalwaysthecase.WhenIwenttoLondonforthefirsttimeviaflight,thenina
week,therewere18directflightsbetweenCalcuttaandLondon.Nowthereisnone.No
Europeandestination.
(CalcuttadoesnothavedirectconnectivitywithEuropefornearlyfouryearsnow.German
airlineLufthansahadpulledoutofthecityinMarch2012andsincethen,noEuropean
carrierhasshowninterest.InMarch2009,BritishAirwayshadwithdrawnitsoperations
fromCalcutta.WithnodirectflighttoEurope,apassengerfromCalcuttanowhastogovia
Delhi,Mumbai,Dubai,QatarorAbuDhabi.
Senisrightinsayingthatitwasnotalwaysthecase.Inthe1950sand1960s,almostallthe
topEuropeancarriersusedtoflyfromCalcutta.DutchairlineKLM,BritishAirways,
Lufthansa,SovietairlineAeroflotandAmericancarrierPanAmwerehere.However,from
thelate1970s,theflightofairlinesstarted.Someofthemreturnedbutwentawayagain
afterafewyears.)
Leftandbusiness
Leftistthoughtisstillveryimportant.ButBengaloncehadalotofbusiness,whenthere
were18flightsaweektoLondon,forinstance.
TheLeftdefinitelyhadabigroleinruiningthatbusinesshere,itmustbeadmitted.When
theydecidedthatitmustchange,theywereremovedfromgovernment.
Nowtheyarediscussingandarecriticising,whichiscorrect,butwemustfigureoutwhat
wemustdo....Popularmovementscannotbebuiltonslogansbutwithlogic.
VietnamandChina
Thediscussionsonchildhealthandhealthingeneralareofutmostimportance.Weare
laggingbehindothercountriesbyagreatdeal,likeChinaorVietnam,whereIamcoming
from.IwasinHanoiforChristmas.Howtheyhaverisenfromdestructiontosetupschools
andhealthcarefacilitiesissomethingwehaveagreatdealtolearnfrom.
WhatIsawinHanoiandnearbyplacesgavemeagreatdealofhopebecauseifyoulook
atnationalincome,VietnamisnotwealthierthanIndia.Butineducationandhealthandin
alotofotherareas,theyarealotmorewealthythanus.Howthishappenedisthebig
question....
ThedifferencewithChina,inexportsforinstance....Weexportafewthings,like
pharmaceuticals,wherewehaveplayedabigrole,especiallyinloweringthepricesof
medicines.ITinIndiaiswayahead.Weexportautopartstoo.Butthat'sit.
Chinamakes24,000typesofthingsforexportalone.From
myphonetomywatch,everythingismadeinChina.Why
isthispossible?Educatedandhealthyworkersare
workingandtheyfollowinstructionswellandwork
efficiently.Manyofushaveremaineduneducatedorthe
qualityofeducationisoftenverypoor....
China'seconomicdisparityisnotlessthanthatofours,in
factitismuchmoreonsomeparameters.Buteverybody
therehasaccesstoschools,schoolsthatarenearby,
schoolsthathavetoilets.Everybodyhasaccesstohealth
care.Theyusedtobelikeus,butnomorenow.That'swhy
theyhaveachievedwhatseemsalmostsupernatural.
Publicorprivate?
Deficitinpublichealthcareandeducationcannotbemade
upforbytheprivatesector.Thathasneverhappened
anywhereintheworld.NotinEurope,notintheUS,notin
communistcountriesVietnam,Cuba,Russia,Chinaallof
themhadamajorrolebythegovernmentinthesetwo
sectors.
EveninJapan...whenin1868modernJapanwascreated,thefirstthingtheyannouncedin
1872waseveryJapanesehadtobeeducatedin40years.Theyachievedthatby1910and
despitebeingapoorcountry,publishedmorebooksthantherestoftheworldthen.TheUK
too,theUStoo...TheUSdidnotcutonpublicspendingineducation.Thoughtheydidsoin
health,whichiscausingalotofconflictnow,withObamacare,etc.
Idon'tknowhowthisnotionthattheprivatesectorwillsufficeinhealthandeducationtook
root.Whenprivatesectordoesnothavetocompetewithpublicsector,evenprivatesector
suffersqualitatively.
AfterIndependence,therewasthistendencythatthegovernmentwillruneverything,even
thosethingstheycannotrun.Everyindustry,evenhotels.IstillthinkofmyselfasaLeftist,
butneverinmylifehaveIstayedinahotelrunbythegovernment,whichismoreorless
comfortable.
IhavebeengoingtoChinaeveryyearsince1980.IwenttoShenzhentoinauguratea
technicalfair.IwasaskedtoputupatafivestargovernmenthotelbecauseIwasaguestof

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thegovernment.That'swhereIunderstoodthekindofdifferenceit(apublicsectorhotel)
made.Thetoiletdidnothaveenoughlighting.Ievenhaddifficultyfindingit.Icouldn'tfind
thelockertokeepmywallet.
Somethingsgovernmentscandowell,somethingstheysimplycannot.Since1947,there
wasagreaturgeinustodothingsthatwecannot....Wehavetothinkandfigureoutwhat
canbedonewellbywhom....Thestatemustdoeverythingortheprivatesectormustdo
everythingdoesnotmakesense.Wehavetothinkofwhodoeswhatbest.
Kerala'sbigtruth
WithinIndia,variouspartsaresobackwardinhealthandeducationitisevidentevenby
domesticparameters,notevenbyinternationalparameters.Between1963and1971,Iwas
teachingintheDelhiSchool(ofEconomics)....ThenKeralatalkedaboutbringingin
universaleducationandhealthcare.Wheneverwediscussedit,economistsusedtoask
'howwouldthisbepossible,wherewouldthemoneycomefrom'?Moneyforteachers,
doctors,paramedics....Keralawasoneofthepoorestofthestates,Ithinkthirdfromthe
bottombackthen.
Kerala'seconomicpolicieshadalotofmistakes,Ithink.Thereweremanythingsthatthey
shouldnothavedone.Butonethingtheygotrightinabigway,anditwashealthand
educationforall.Wehavetoseewhypercapitaincomenowisamongthehighestin
Kerala.Theycamefromthebottomtorisetothetop.
...Despitethemistakes,theymadeabigturnaround.Becauseofonebigtruth,theyrealised
theimportanceofhealthyandeducatedworkers.
Govtperformance
...Deficitineducationandhealthhastobeendedandthisisofutmostimportance.
Because,withoutbasicslikehealthandeducation,thepeoplewon'tbeabletomakeuseof
theglobalisedbusinessopportunities.Theyneedgoodeducation,goodhealthtobe
competitive.
Thebigpoliticalpartiesherealsohavetosharetheblame.TheCongressistobeblamed.
Nehru'sparty....Alotwassaidonhealthandeducation.Notmuchreallyhappenedsince
Independence.
Nothingmuchhashappenedeveninthetimeofthecurrentcentralgovernment.Thisisnot
surprisingthough.Thepreviousgovernmentneglectedalot,thisgovernmentisneglecting
evenmore.

CompiledbyMeghdeepBhattacharyya,SnehamoyChakrabortyandSanjayMandal
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