CONVOCATION A D D R E S S MALCOLM S. ADISESHIAH GREETINGS a long,...
CONVOCATION A D D R E S S
MALCOLM S. ADISESHIAH
GREETINGS
a long, weary four stage process. T h e first
I am p r o u d to be a p a r t i c i p a n t on this stage, which goes back to my school days
auspicious occasion of the thirty-second a n d those of my father's, was directed by
A n n u a l Convocation of this o u r first t h e principle "Start from where you a r e
p i o n e e r i n g social science i n s t i t u t i o n of t h e a n d change as little as possible". T h i s was
country. We owe t h e T a t a s m a n y of o u r the time w h e n the art of social change
m a t e r i a l achievements a n d intellectual was summarised in the infamous phrase,
treasures in this country. I take this occa-
"A smile for a friend a n d sneer for the
sion to express, on all o u r behalf, how world is t h e way to govern m a n k i n d . "
m u c h the N a t u r a l Sciences, F u n d a m e n t a l T h e r e was no place for the social sciences
Research a n d most of all the still neglected
in a society where the social forms of the
Social Science disciplines are i n d e b t e d to E t e r n a l East, it was felt, could only be
t h e m for t h e i r far-sighted sowing of these understood in terms of t h e i r own sym-
intellectual seeds in w h a t was at t h a t time bolism a n d mystical unlogic, as against t h e
r a t h e r h a r d a n d stony soil. I also congra-
positivistic concepts on which m o d e r n
t u l a t e t h e graduates of this great institu-
science rests. F r o m there we moved on to
tion, whose l e a r n i n g a n d research in the the second stage where social change was
Social Sciences a r e recognised in today's p r o m o t e d in bits a n d pices u n d e r the ad
ceremony a n d constitute the t r i b u t e and hoc rule " D o w h a t you can because every
r e w a r d t o t h e i r c o m p a n i o n s a n d colleagues little bit helps." T h i s seemed to be the
— the C h a i r m a n , Mr. J. J. B h a b h a , the only way for a society which was officially
Director, D r . M. S. Gore a n d the devoted described as being pervaded by "the placid
staff of the Institute. T h i s is also an occa-
c o n t e n t m e n t of t h e masses." B e h i n d this
sion on which I w a n t to convey to you, characterisation was the Western model of
o u t g o i n g graduates, my w a r m good wishes unilinear development, to which the
in t h e d e m a n d i n g , frustrating b u t never peoples of India h a d failed to conform.
e n d i n g task t h a t the country calls you to. And so the seeds of Western social science
A n d it is on this call, the call of the Fifth began to be implanted in our soil with
P l a n to t h e Social Sciences t h a t wish to alien builders performing for our peace-
spend some time in wishing you a d i e u ful but ailing society little bits and pieces
from the T a t a I n s t i t u t e of Social Sciences of analysis that were thought to h e l p — a
a n d b o n voyage as you set forth to apply Vincent Smith's History of India, a Vera
w h a t you have l e a r n t in the I n d i a of Anstey's Economic Conditions of India, a
t o m o r r o w .
H e n r y Maine's T h e I n d i a n Village Com-
m u n i t y . W e t h e n moved o n t o the t h i r d
P L A N N I N G FOR D E V E L O P M E N T
stage, the revolutionary, fast moving,
O u r development model, summarised in n a t i o n shaking a n d w e l d i n g stage of the
the slogan, G a r i b i H a t a o , is n o w establish-
thirties a n d forties u n d e r t h e slogan
ed for all of us. We have come to this " C h a n g e everything all at o n c e " . Once we
m o d e l t h r o u g h w h a t I w o u l d describe as became conscious of traditionalism a n d its
*Dr. Malcolm S. Adiseshiah is the Director of Madras Institute of Development
Studies.

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MALCOLM S. ADISESHIAH
parasitical overlay of colonialism and in the urban areas. Our four key variables
began glimpsing at the power of science mean getting this group of 50 per cent
to examine and expose our social realities poor to increase their calorie consumption
with a view to remaking rather than ad-
from 1,000-1,500 to 2,250 and to increase
justing to them, once we saw the link bet-
their spending on food, clothing and hous-
ween imperialism and our falling per ing to 50 and 72 paise per person per day
capita income, falling per capita con-
at constant prices and increasing that
sumption and the periodic famines culmi-
spending annually by 10 per cent, so that
nating in the 1942 Bengal famine, low life by the end of the Sixth Plan period, twelve
expectancy, growing illiteracy and erosion years from now, they are able to spend
of our humanistic values and classical double of what they would be spending
cultures, the political, economic and social at the poverty line. The development plan
revolution of the freedom struggle, with which follows involves dismantling the
its massive attack, simultaneously on all present distribution system which caters
fronts, was bound to happen. T h a t was solely to us, members of the middle and
the time when the first Twenty Year Plan upper income groups and building a new
for the industrialisation of the country kind of mass distribution net work serv-
was formulated here in this city and also ing our villages, hamlets, and city slums
the time when Kumarapp's social instincts through which wage goods —rice/wheat,
and genius were harnessed in founding cloth, kerosene, dhal, sugar, edible oil
this historical Institute. The time trends etc. — are made available to the poor
against which we came up, however, led sector. It also means a new programme of
to the fourth stage, where we are now protective protein enriched foods for our
building the development model on the 14.5 crores of pre-school children and
principle "Identify and manipulate the lactating mothers, protected water supply
key variables."
to the 60,000 villages who have no such
supply, rural housing with basic amenities
OUR DEVELOPMENT MODEL
and an educational programme which will
In building this model, we have defined give every one basic skills and remove
for ourselves today, four key variables —
illiteracy. This minimum supply pro-
growth, social justice, stability and self gramme will require a production and in-
reliance. If I were to describe the Fifth frastructural system which can provide
Plan model based on these variables in employment to the 14 million currently
simple terms it will be something like this. unemployed and the 1,20,000 entering our
Putting together the information from the labour force every week. And back of it
Census and the National Sample Survey, we all, it will mean extending our agricul-
know that 40 per cent of the 438 millions tural technology to the 80 per cent of our
living in our rural countryside and 60 per marginal, small, drought exposed, dry-
cent of the 108 millions living in our farmers, reordering our production priori-
urban agglomerations are living at or be-
ties to produce massively the wage goods
low the Indian poverty line. I define the referred to earlier, (which also require
poverty line as the consumption of 2,200 little or no imported machinery, foreign
calories per person per day or the spend-
raw material and imported know-how and
ing of 50 paise per person per day in the so can contribute to our policy objective
rural areas or 72 paise per person per day of self reliance) and capacity production

CONVOCATION ADDRESS
179
of our heavy and basic industries. The premise in our planning is that tradi-
savings drive and price policy will follow tionalism is passing or has passed; that we
as a function of the strategy. Finally this are no longer a people satisfied with our-
production and distribution model requires
selves, our beliefs and our institutions. It
replacement of the current centres of also assumes the replacement of such
feudal and financial powers by wide traditionalism by a growing faith in reason
popular participation in all areas of deci-
to perceive reality, to change, adapt and
sion making.
mould it for our ends. This modernisation
premise may be true. I do not know what
GAPS IN THE MODEL
I do know is that we have growing pri-
mary and secondary data — no doubt defec-
Such is the Fifth Plan Model that is tive and varyingly incomplete — but data
emerging and calling for action from all which are consciously and scientifically
of us in the country, Government, legis-
collected on everything except on this
lators, business and labour leaders, the crucial modernisation premise. We collect
agrarian and academic community—What and process regularly data on population,
is the specific call to you social scientists morbidity and mortality, family planning
graduating today? I will start with the acceptors and mix, crop forecasts, irriga-
simpler tasks that will be facing you and tion acreage, family budgets, poverty in-
proceed from there to those that are more dices and deciles, urban housing, literacy
difficult and complex.
and schooling etc. But there are important
Involvement in Planning: First the areas of social life of which we know noth-
basic lesson that you have learnt here will ing. What is the role expectation of the
have to be applied. The social sciences are small farmer, the landless labourer or the
not simply the producer of high level man Harijan living in the segregated part of
power — they are that also — but are an our villages? What do the religious leaders
integral part of the development model. in our various communities believe, teach
Social Scientists are not only needed to and preach about the role of reason and
execute the projects and programmes in science in daily life? How does the average
the Plan, they have to make the Plan. You parent decide about the schooling, mar-
are not only plan executors, you are plan riage and employment of the son or
makers, because a basic prerequisite of daughter? What do we know of the sense
social awareness which is the basis of all of frustration and alienation which is
planning is the correct diagnosis of the spreading through our young people, par-
historical situation. You are equipped ticularly the students in high schools, col-
with the repertory of convictions and leges and universities leading to gheraos,
aspirations of the people with which you strikes, violence and murder? Our deve-
can now help plan the breaking down of lopment model is an abstraction to the
our traditionalism and the building in of extent that we lack data on its basic
faith in science to remake society.
assumption. The social scientist has to fill
in this serious gap, as part of the most
The Rationalisation Function: A second visible and insistent rationalisation part
task facing you, the social scientists, is to of his vocation, the discovery of new social
examine carefully this facile assumption facts or new interpretations of known
of modernisation on which our develop-
social phenomena.
ment model rests. T h e modernisation

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MALCOLM S. ADISESHIAH
Popularisation Function: The third task and exposure of problems which are hid-
which follows from this rationalisation den or passed over in silence.
function is fraught with difficulties and
In this task of rationalisation and popu-
dangers. It will involve delving into facts larisation, qualitative social science re-
which are even hidden from Prime Minis-
search is as important as the pursuit of
ter (which led one of them to inform the quantified methodology, because such re-
press somewhat laconically as he was search is aimed not only at our empirical
planning to visit a neighbouring country objectives but even more at our political
that he had ordered the army to throw the
and ethical universe of values (to which
enemy out of the country). It may require
I shall presently refer), not only at our
discovery of the facts which explain the quantifiable results but more importantly
refusal of our political parties to see the at our choice of finalities and goals.
nexus between our run-away population
Integration Function : Fourth, you the
and our socio-economic stagnation and social scientists are equipped with the only
increasing poverty. It will call for a factual means of integrating the development
study of the social, cultural and moral process, which necessarily has to be broken
make-up of those living below the poverty into phases. These phases are the setting
line. It will demand an analysis of the of objectives, the formulation of strategy,
complex factors which have led to our the elaboration of programmes and the de-
stagnant, neglected yet over-exploited tailing of projects through the instrumen-
rural biosphere, along with the new popu-
talities of research and analysis, consul-
lations and environmental imbalances in-
tancy and policy formation, formulation
duced by our helter-skelter industrializa-
of schemes and execution of field projects.
tion and manufacturing and agricultural In such phased development planning,
technologies. Such a gap-filling task will there is need for a two-fold process of in-
necessarily call upon the social scientists tegration. The first is to integrate the
to spread their discoveries among the planning phases and instrumentalities into
people, as you in this Institute have done a meaningful system, which with the Sys-
in publishing the monumental work — tems Approach and its sub-system, the
Field Studies in the Sociology of Indian Planning-Programming-Budgetting System
Education. We talk of planning from be-
with which the social scientists is equipped,
low, of peoples' participation in the plan-
can be fairly easily accomplished. T h e
ning and execution process. But this re-
second integration is more complex and
quires that people know all the facts. T h e fateful in its consequences. All develop-
present policy of selective secrecy that we ment models, all empirical planning be-
practise in our centralised technocratic gin, as we have seen, with a statement of
planning system only divorces the universe objectives, which in our case today is
of ends from the universe of means. The growth, social justice, stability and self-
gap between our political pledges and reliance. Such a statement of objectives is
plan targets and our technocratic prog-
the starting point of any Systems Approach
rammes and executive procedures widens and represents one universe for the social
daily. Social Sciences abhor all forms of scientist —• the universe of verifiable bene-
selective secrecy. Hence you, the social fits. But this empirical universe must be
scientists, must engage in the explanation derived from two other universes — the

CONVOCATION ADDRESS
181
political and the ethical. Our political both derive ultimately from the ethical
universe has two goals — the security of our
universe.
country from external aggression and in-
T H E CONTINUING PROCESS OF LEARNING
ternal peace through national integration,
which are spelt out in the doctrine of Panch
For these tasks, facing you, as you leave
Sheel — peaceful settlement of disputes, this your alma mater, you have of course
respect for national sovereignty, non-inter-
continually to learn and learn how to
ference, reciprocity and peaceful coopera-
learn. Today marks only a stage, albeit an
tion. Our ethical universe is the system of important stage, in your lives, in this
values spelt out in our constitution, "Jus-
never ending process of learning how,
tice, social, economic and political, liberty where and what to learn. T h e scientific
of thought, expression, belief, faith and work that you have trained yourselves in,
worship, Equality of status and of oppor-
has been linked to a given social situation,
tunity and Fraternity, assuring the dignity to a particular moment in our history.
of the individual and the unity of the That situation is fugitive. This moment
nation." Behind these values are our reli-
is passing. What remains is your ground-
gious, moral and philosophical concepts of ing in what has come to be called the
truth, tolerance, charity and non-violence. nomothetic disciplines, the law seeking
T h e integration task of the social scientist sciences, the sciences which call you all
is immensely complicated. The empirical your life to identify laws and to be moti-
objectives of growth, social justice, stabi-
vated by the ideal of learning, as objec-
lity and self-reliance are being confronted tive, assured, and independent of human
by stagnation, social injustice, instability opinions, attitudes and situations, as that
and neo-colonialism. The political goals of which characterises physics, chemistry or
external security and national integration mathematics. And as part of this life-long
are facing continuing external insecurity learning imperative is the corollary of in-
and national disintegration. The ethical terdisciplinary co-operation which beckons
values of truth, tolerance charity and non-
to you, to continue the multidisciplinary
violence are overridden with growing cor-
research and team work that you have
ruption, casteism, communalism and viol-
learnt here. Research demands specialisa-
ence. Even more, while the universe of tion, but life is not divided into sociology,
empirical objectives are quantifiable and anthropology or economics, into natural
verifiable in terms of benefits and results, sciences, life sciences and earth sciences.
the universe of political goals and that of Our society presents us with situations
ethical values from which the empirical which demand inter-disciplinary coopera-
objectives are derived are not. It is the tion. We have learnt within each discip-
heart breaking but imperative task of the line, the need for this cooperation — the
social sciences to analyse, dissect, synthesize need to use the hypothesis of biology, the
and propose lines of action that will re-
methods of mathematics and the findings
concile the apparently irreconcilable at of psychology, geography and anthropology
each of these levels of discourse. Even more,
to analyse any socio-economic phenomenon.
the social scientists possess the tools that This multidimensional composition of so-
can ensure the integration of the three cial facts has of course always existed.
universes, so that our plan objectives flow But science and technology are creating
from the political ends of the country, and daily entirely new conditions of life for

182
MALCOLM S. ADISESHIAH
us, and the development of media of ex-
years ago of the Indian Council of Social
pression and communication have intro-
Science Research of which your Director
duced new social complexes — complexes is the distinguished Chairman. The Coun-
which can only be apprehended and cil is presently engaged in a status study of
analysed by multidisciplinary team work. social science research in the Country,
And it is with this rich equipment that while at the same time promoting in every
you, social scientists, can and must join way oriented and developmental research.
the national battle of the war against po-
Now we must go further. I call upon the
verty — poverty and its accompaniments Government and society for the specific re-
of ignorance, stagnation, humiliation, in-
cognition of the role of the Social Science
justice and exploitation. And at this point in development planning and more parti-
our social science research becomes mean-
cularly for the mobilisation of this scarce
ingful social action: the pursuit of truth resource in the preparation of the Fifth
becomes tested in the crucible of applica-
Five Year Plan. This should be done by
tion. That I know is the supreme joy and asking the Council to perform the same
vocation of the social scientist, similar to kind of mobilising task as is being done
that of our forefathers to whom to work by the National Committee for Science
was to pray, to us, to know is to act. That
and Technology. Whether this be done by
is true science, real social science — where entrusting the Council with the task or by
action is the fateful and fruitful dialogue attaching social science expertise to the
between the human mind and human rea-
major sectors of the planning process is
lity.
secondary. What I am calling for is the
clear recognition and full use of the social
SOCIAL SCIENCES' CALL TO THE NATION
scientists of the Country (not only for its
And so I believe that the time is now economists and statisticians) in the high
over-due for a clearer and more explicit stakes which our development model re-
recognition by the Government, the world presents. And it is in that setting, that I
of business and society in this Country, of convey once more to you, the outgoing-
the role of social sciences and social scient-
graduates of the Tata Institute of Social
ists in national development. That recog-
Sciences, all good wishes in the irreversible
nition has started with the founding four tasks that lie ahead of you.