Saturday, July 10, 2021

Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Punjab's Policies on Agriculture

Some policies had become too 'baked in' to change. I recall pointing out to CM Badal that Punjab's policy of giving free power for agriculture (which he had introduced many years earlier) was having a very damaging effect, leading to excessive extraction of groundwater. This meant a steady decline in the water table and deterioration in water quality because of chemical and heavy metal content, endangering both soil fertility and human health. He agreed with the logic of my argument but said the policy had persisted for so long that it was now impossible to change! In my concluding remarks to the Punjab delegation, I read out a quote from Machiavelli:

At the beginning, a disease is easy to cure but difficult to diagnose: but as time passes, not having been treated or recognized at the outset, it becomes easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. The same thing occurs in affairs of state. By recognizing from afar the diseases that are spreading in the state (which is a gift given only to a prudent ruler) they can be cured quickly. But when they are not recognized and left to grow to the extent that everyone recognizes them, there is no longer any cure.

Courtesy: Backstage: The Story Behind India's High Growth Years by Montek Singh Ahluwalia

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