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Not enough headway has been made in eradicating poverty: Anita Pfaff

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on January 20, 2013

President, Pranab Mukherjee releases the Bengali edition ‘Deshnayak’ of Sugata Bose’s biography ‘His Majesty’s Opponent” by Anita Pfaff, Netaji’s daughter along with Krishna Bose (right), niece-in-law, Sugata Bose, grand-nephew of Netaji and Governor of West Bengal, M.K. Narayanan at the inaugural ceremony of 116th birthday anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in Kolkata. - Photo: A Roy Chowdhury   -  Business Line

Netaji’s grand-nephew, Sugata Bose in a biography on Subhas Chandra Bose - “His Majesty’s Opponent” - has cited international media reports dubbing Netaji as the “George Washington of Indian Independence”.

Netaji’s only daughter, Anita Pfaff now accepts the accolades showered on her father with grace. She believes that even though Netaji’s life involved a lot of tragedy; he lives through the love and affection of people.

“I have a strong feeling and conviction that paying tributes to Netaji is a genuine act of respect and love for a Bengali and a deshnayak,” Pfaff said during the inauguration of the 116th birth anniversary celebrations of Subhas Chandra Bose at their ancestral home in south Kolkata on Sunday morning.

Liberilisation

According to Pfaff, a professor of economics in the University of Augsburg, India’s growth, post liberalisation (1990s), has been “spectacular”. This growth, however, is not without its side effects.

“Of course it (liberalisation) has a side product which I think you experience across the world,” she said.

A higher growth is invariably marked by unavoidable inequality of income distribution. So while the country has seen a decline in infant mortality rates; failures of birth control programmes have led to a rise in population amongst select social groups who cannot afford education for their children.

“If you have a higher growth, you always have inequality of income distribution; that unfortunately cannot be avoided,” she added.

Lauding the way India has remained intact over the years despite its cultural diversities, Pfaff said: “In the early 1950s and 1960s there was a great concern that the country might drift apart due to the cultural differences that existed within. But India has managed remarkably well.”

Partition

Pointing out to Netaji’s pragmatic approach and far-sightedness, Pfaff explained that partition of the country was a disappointment militating against her father’s vision of Independent India.

“I think the most disappointing (vision) would have been partition - the deaths, lot of tragic consequences, the squandering of unnecessary (resources), war between the two nations that succeeded Colonial India,” she told some journalists.

According to Pfaff, while India is a stable nation and prides itself as the world’s largest democracy, Pakistan is in severe problems. The money that went into procuring arms could have been put into education and healthcare making it beneficial for both India and Pakistan populace.

A pragmatic herself, Pfaff was clear to point out that while it was naïve to expect fast eradication of poverty, but did not hide her disappointment over the fact not enough headway has been made in eradicating poverty.

“May be it was naïve to expect that these two (illiteracy and poverty) could be eradicated as fast one hoped. In any case the fact is that some headway has been made, but not by far enough. It certainly is a disappointment,” Pfaff said.

>abhishek.l@thehindu.co.in

Published on January 20, 2013

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