Opinion

Forty Years Ago: June 17, 1979

Forty Years Ago: June 17, 1979

Labour Numbers Up

Despite the emphasis on rural development, the number of landless workers in India has increased by 220 lakh in 14 years, at the rate of nearly 15 lakh per year. Their daily earnings have also gone down from Re 1 to 88 paise. These figures have been culled partly from the rural labour enquiry reports of 1964-65 and 1974-75, and partly from the latest data the Planning Commission has collected for the Sixth Plan. According to these sources, agricultural labourers numbered 310 lakhs in 1964-65, but this figure increased to 460 lakhs in 1974-75 and to 530 lakhs in 1977-78. This means that marginal farmers have been swelling the labour force. They have been forced to part with their land either because of new burdens or old debts. Apparently, the thousands of crores chanelled to rural areas has gone to big farmers.

Indo-Soviet Bond

India and the Soviet Union voiced their opposition to “any interference by outside forces in the internal affairs of Afghanistan”. A joint statement, signed by Prime Minister Morarji Desai and Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev was released in Leningrad at the end of Desai’s visit to the Soviet Union. The statement did not mention Pakistan by name but it is clear that the message was primarily meant for Islamabad.

Aviation Censorship

Faced with a spate of adverse publicity in recent months, the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation has imposed strict censorship on the departments and public sector undertakings under its charge. Officers of Air India, Indian Airlines and the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation have been forbidden from speaking to the press. Even the directors of public relations have been asked to remain mum. So scared are officials that copies of any press statement are immediately dispatched to the ministry by special messengers, so that the ministry’s mandarins do not complain that they learn of developments from the morning newspapers.