shocks that the economy was subjected to. The two military engagements in
quick succesion (in 1962 and 1965) had led to severe cut-backs public
investment, contributing to the emergence significant excess capabilities in
the heavy industry sector.
The other major exogenous shock came in the form of two successive
monsoon failures in 1965 and 1966 leading to drastic falls in food production
and availability, which also had obvious negative consequences for the
overall growth prospects. This came as a rude reminder of India’s
vulnerability in the area of its most basic need. In fact, even before these
droughts, India had already come to depend partly on a ship-to-mouth policy,
mainly in the form of wheat imports from the US under PL-480 and the
droughts were catastrophic jolts that highlighted failure in this critical area.
The immediate impact of these exogenous shocks was so powerful that
the government temporarily abandoned five-year planning in favor of annual
plans, for the next three years. These annual plans were so limited in their
scope, essentially being budgetary exercises, that this period (from 1966-
1969) is also known as that of “plan holiday”. However, one must note that
this period continued witness sharp cut-backs in public investment with
various adverse consequences for industrial and overall growth prospects.
It was mentioned earlier that the Nehru-Mahalanobis strategy came under
increasing criticism during the 60s and early 70s from several quarters. These
ranged from a rejection of the planning process itself to pointing out specific
shortcomings, such as underestimation of the import-intensity, the indigenous
industrialisation drive, unnecessary export-pessimism, over-extended
regulatory structures, over-optimism with regards to the potential
performance of the agricultural sector etc.
Land reform, which had enjoyed a high priority with Nehru ever since he
worked for the cause of the peasantry in the campaign of 1930, remained
more or less at the level pre-determined by British Indian Tenancy Acts.
These Acts had secured the rights of those peasants who held their land
directly from the zamindar, but