Inspiring Thoughts, Powerful Words|Apr 14, 2009 12:35 PM| by:

Science and Politics

In the following speech made at the Indian Science News Association, Calcutta, on 21st August, 1938, Subhas Chandra Bose elaborates his views about industrial planning in India after independence. Bose believed, unlike Gandhi, that ‘the party that fights for freedom cannot liquidate itself when power is won’.

In this speech Bose states that national construction could ‘be possible only with the aid of science and that cooperation between science and politics is absolutely necessary if India is to take its place among the advanced countries of the world. Another important point he made was that scientific research should not be ‘nationalized’.

The movement for Indian emancipation has reached a stage when swaraj is no longer a dream—no longer an ideal to be attained in the distant future. On the contrary, we are within sight of power—seven out of eleven provinces of British India are now under Congress ministries. Limited though the powers of those governments are, they have yet to handle the problems of reconstruction within their respective domains. How are we to solve these problems? We want, first and foremost, the aid of science in this task. I have always held the view and I said so in my presidential speech at the Haripura Congress that the party that fights for freedom cannot liquidate itself when power is won. That party should face the tasks of post-war reconstruction as well. Hence, the Congressmen of today have not only to strive for liberty, but they have also to devote a portion of their thought and energy to problems of national reconstruction. And national reconstruction will be possible only with the aid of science and our scientists.

May I now, with your permission, place before you some of my ideas on the problems of national reconstruction? We hear very often nowadays of schemes for bringing about industrial recovery in this land. An officer in this province recently wrote a voluminous book on a recovery plan for Bengal. The problem we have to face is not industrial recovery, however, but industrialization. India is still in the pre-industrial stage of evolution. No industrial advancement is possible until we first pass through the throes of an industrial revolution. Whether we like it or not, we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that the present epoch is the industrial epoch in modern history. There is no escaping from the industrial revolution. We can at best determine whether this revolution that is industrialization will be a comparatively gradual one, as in Great Britain, or a forced march as in Soviet Russia. I am afraid that it has to be a forced march in this country.

I have no doubt that when we have a national government for the entire country, one of the first things we shall have to do is to appoint a National Planning Commission. As a matter of fact our ministries in the seven provinces have already been feeling the need of a uniform industrial policy and programme. Anticipating this, the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution a year ago, soon after the Congress ministries came into existence, to the effect that it was necessary to appoint a committee of experts to advise the Congress governments on industrial matters. This view was confirmed by the Congress premier’s conference which met in May 1938, in Bombay under my chairmanship. Thereafter, the appointment of the committee of experts has been before the Working Committee and at its last meeting in July, it decided that as a preliminary step, I shall convene a conference of the industries ministers of seven Congress­ administered provinces. I am stating all these facts to show that without waiting for the advent of purna swaraj (complete independence), we are moving in the direction of economic planning. Though I do not rule out cottage industries and though I hold that every attempt should be made to preserve and also revive cottage industries wherever possible, I maintain that economic planning for India should mean planning largely for the industrialization of India. Industrialization, as you will all agree, does not mean the promotion of industries or manufacturing umbrella-handles and bell-metal plates, as Sir John Anderson would have us believe. I gratefully recognize the fact that your magazine Science and Culture has helped to direct intelligent thoughts in this country towards the problems of industrialization. The articles published periodically on electric power supply, flood-control, river-physics, need of establishing a National Research Council, etc., have been highly illuminating and instructive. I would now like to make a few observations on the principles of national planning:

(1) Though from the industrial point of view the world is one unit, we should nevertheless aim at national autonomy, especially in the field of our principal needs and requirements.

(2) We should adopt a policy aiming at the growth and development of the mother industries, viz., power supply, metal production, machine and tools manufacture, manufacture of essential chemicals, transport and communication of essential chemicals, transport and communication industries, etc.

(3) We should also tackle the problem of technical education and technical research. So far as technical education is concerned, as in the case of Japanese students, our students should be sent abroad for training in accordance with a clear and definite plan so that as soon as they return home, they may proceed straight away to develop new industries.

So far as technical research is concerned, we all agree that it should be free from governmental control of every kind. It is only in this unfortunate country that government servants are entrusted with scientific research on receipt of princely salaries and we know very well what results have been obtained therefrom.

(4) There should be a permanent National Research Council.

(5) Lastly, as a preliminary step towards national planning, there should be an economic survey of the present industrial position with a view to securing the necessary data for the National Planning Commission.

These are, in brief, some of my ideas on the problems of industrialization and national reconstruction. I believe they are held in common by men and women of science in this country. We, who are practical politicians, need your help, who are scientists, in shaping our ideas. We can, in turn, help to propagate these ideas. When the citadel of power is finally captured, we can help to translate these ideas into reality. What is wanted is a far-reaching cooperation between science and politics.

Subhas Chandra Bose

(Crossroads, the works of Subhas Chandra Bose, 1938-40, Comp. by Netaji Research Bureau, Calcutta, Bombay, Asia Publishing House, 1962).