“PROBLEMS OF Kerala are to a large extent different from those of other States; and naturally they have to be tackled in a different way”. With this sentence Shri Sankaran Namboodiripad, Chief Minister of Kerala opened and concluded his conversation with NN Pillai.
Q: Does this mean that your Government will alter or qualify the Second Five Year Plan as it applies to Kerala?
A: Yes, we will have to make some alterations.
Q: Could you tell me the general nature of such changes?
A: The priorities in the Plan have to be altered keeping in view the urgent needs of the State. Also more emphasis will be given cottage and small-scale industries. We will explore the possibilities of starting more industries in the State and press the Central Government to locate some of the big industries like Ship-building, Rubber Factory, etc. in his State. Our problem is finance; that is the main hurdle.
Q: And how do you propose to solve that problem?
A: We will ask the Centre for an increase in the allocation of funds in the Second Five Year Plan. We will approach the Finance Commission also. Kerala has more than 3 per cent of the population of whole of India. If that had been one of the considerations determining the size of allocation, the State should have got much more than what we have been given. Other factors like the crucial problems of educated un-employment, pressure on land, absence of scope for further extension of cultivation to any great extent, industrial backwardness of the State, development potentialities etc. also shall have to be considered. I am sure that the Central Government will favourably consider our case if it is properly presented.
Q: What is your impression of the working of the Community Development Projects in the State?
A: The latest evaluation report, I am told, does not give a very encouraging picture of the progress of development projects in Kerala. I have not studied it in detail. It is too early for me to say anything about the working of the project. But I feel that the contents of the development programme as it applies to Kerala should have been different from the pattern of other States. Our problems are entirely different. Our village have very little in common with the north Indian Villages. Probably a common pattern may not suit even all the areas of the State alike because problems vary from place to place. Fixing up of targets and chalking out programmes without intimate knowledge of the immediate needs of the project area not yield impressive results. Therefore the general pattern and the contents of the programme have to be altered in such a way as to suit the needs of the people and the area chosen for development.
Q: What will be the effect of nationalization of foreign-owned estates on the economy of Kerala?
A: That is a big question. Putting the answer in a nutshell, the huge profit now flowing out of the country every year will then be available for the development of the State. We require more funds to invest in various programmes. Nationalization of foreign-onwed estates will be a very natural step to strengthen the economy of the State. Of course, we have to pay compensation to the estate-owners.
Q: Do you think that this step, may scare away the foreign investors?
A: I don’t think this will in any way discourage foreign investors who are really interested in reasonable returns and also in the progress of this country. We are paying back the capital and the investors will not have to lose anything. In fact, we will welcome people who can invest money on new industries in the State. They will be entitled to reasonable profits.