The Nehruvian model of development — based on the four pillars of Parliamentary democracy, secularism, economic planning for establishing a welfare estate and the policy of non-alignment — is still relevant today even after reforms and economic liberalisation and the first Prime Minister of the country still deserves some respect, according to Bhalchandra Mungekar, economist and member of the Rajya Sabha.

He was delivering the presidential address at the inaugural of the 95th annual conference of the Indian Economic Association (IEA) which began here on Thursday in Gitam University. He said Nehru had laid the foundations for the economic growth of the nation, though four per cent growth in his era was ridiculed as a Hindu rate of growth, and he should be credited with giving the proper direction to the nation.

Mungekar said with suitable modifications the Nehruvian model could be adopted even today and even “his policy of non-alignment is still relevant, even though the Cold War is a thing of the past. The NAM nations — mostly African and Asian — must come together and fight the domination of rich countries’ greed for grabbing natural resources.”

He said socialism of the Nehruvian variety should not be treated as a dirty word as has become the fashion in economic circles to decry Nehru. Inclusive growth should be the objective, he said. “In fact, there is really no trickle-down effect. It is a discredited concept. The neo-classical theory of distribution is quite useless. The development process should not engender or aggravate economic inequalities," he remarked.

He said the agrarian crisis in the country was also a matter of grave concern as hundreds of farmers were committing suicide and the Government should change its present policies and increase public investment in agriculture. Otherwise, he warned, the situation would worsen.

Earlier, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D. Purandeswari, who inaugurated the three-day conference, said it was a foregone conclusion that India would become an economic super power from its present position as an emerging economy; the time-frame alone was yet to be decided. “It depends on how well we make use of the demographic dividend, empowering our young workforce with the right set of skills and values,” she said.

Sukhadeo Thorat, President of the IEA, spoke about the theme of the conference — structural changes in employment patterns after economic liberalisation.