Business Studies

Long Answer Type Questions: Describe briefly the changing role of public sector.


SOLUTION
At the time of Independence, it was expected that the public sector enterprises would play an important role in achieving certain objectives of the economy either by direct participation in business or by acting as a catalyst. The public sector would build up infrastructure for other sectors of the economy and invest in key areas. The private sector was unwilling to invest in projects which required heavy investment and had long gestation periods. The government then took it upon itself to develop infrastructural facilities and provide for goods and services essential for the economy.
(i) Development of infrastructure: The development of infrastructure is a prerequisite for industrialisation in any country. In the pre-Independence period, basic infrastructure was not developed and therefore, industrialisation progressed at a very slow pace. The process of industrialisation cannot be sustained without adequate transportation and communication facilities, fuel and energy, and basic and heavy industries. The private sector did not show any initiative to invest in heavy industries or develop it in any manner. They did not have trained personnel or finances to immediately establish heavy industries which was the requirement of the economy
(ii) Regional balance: The government is responsible for developing all regions and states in a balanced way and removing regional disparties. Most of the industrial progress was limited to a few areas like the port towns in the pre-Independence period. After 1951, the government laid down in its Five Year Plans, that particular attention would be paid to those regions which were lagging behind and public sector industries were deliberately set up. Four major steel plants were set up in the backward areas to accelerate economic development, provide employment to the workforce and develop ancillary industries. This was achieved to some extent but there is scope for a lot more. Development of backward regions so as to ensure a regional balance in the country is one of the major objectives of planned development. Therefore, the government had to locate new enterprises in backward areas and at the same time prevent the mushrooming growth of private sector units in already advanced areas.
(iii) Economies of scale: Where large scale industries are required to be set up with huge capital outlay, the public sector had to step in to take advantage of economies of scale. Electric power plants, natural gas, petroleum and telephone industries are some examples of the public sector setting up large scale units. These units required a larger base to function economically which was only possible with government resources and mass scale production.
(iv) Check over concentration of economic power: The public sector acts as a check over the private sector. In the private sector there are very few industrial houses which would be willing to invest in heavy industries with the result that wealth gets concentrated in a few hands and monopolistic practices are encouraged. This gives rise to inequalities in income, which is detrimental to society. The public sector is able to set large industries which requires heavy investment and thus the income and benefits that accrue are shared by a large of number of employees and workers. This prevents concentration of wealth and economic power in the private sector.
(v) Import substitution: During the second and third Five Year Plan period, India was aiming to be self-reliant in many spheres. Obtaining foreign exchange was also a problem and it was difficult to import heavy machinery required for a strong industrial base. At that time, public sector companies involved in heavy engineering which would help in import substitution were established. Simultaneously, several public sector companies like STC and MMTC have played an important role in expanding exports of the country.
(vi) Government policy towards the public sector since 1991: The Government of India had introduced four major reforms in the public sector in its new industrial policy in 1991. The main elements of the Government policy are as follows: ï Restructure and revive potentially viable PSUs ï Close down PSUs, which cannot be revived ï Bring down governments equity in all non-strategic PSUs to 26 per cent or lower, if necessary; and ï Fully protect the interest of workers.
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Subjective Medium Published on 18th 08, 2020
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