FAQ: Planning no

How should PROUT socio-economic units be planned?
They should function at different levels such as block level (see below), district level, state level national level and global level. But block-level planning will be the basic level of planning. Block-level planning is essential for economic decentralization. As the quantity of natural and human resources will vary from block to block, so separate economic plans will have to be made for each block.

What will be the factors of planning in a decentralized economy?
The factors of planning in a decentralized economy are:

  1. Cost of production. Cost of production means that agriculture must be treated as an organized industry. Then the per unit cost of production will be systematically determined and the poverty of farmers will end.
  2. Productivity. Money should be invested and kept rolling rather than hoarded. In this way the collective wealth of society will be continually increased. This will also lead to maximum production and ever increasing production based on consumption and full employment for all local people. Maximum production will lead to a congenial environment for more investment, more industrialization, more employment, increasing purchasing capacity and increasing collective wealth.
  3. Purchasing capacity. PROUT does not view per capita income as the index of people’s economic standard. It is a deceptive and defective measure of collective wealth popularized by capitalist economists to fool people and cover their exploitation. The genuine measure of people’s economic advancement is increasing purchasing capacity. To guarantee purchasing capacity, there must be available of minimum requirements, stable prices, progressive, periodic increases in wages and salaries, and increasing collective wealth. In a Proutist economy, purchasing capacity will always be increasing. The greater the purchasing capacity of the people, the higher their standard of living.
  4. Collective necessity. Planners will have to consider the collective necessity of a socio-economic unit as well as future requirements of the people. Production of the minimum requirements of all must be planned for and ensured.

Other factors include (5) natural resources, (6) geographical features, (7) climate, (8) river systems, (9) transportation, (10) industrial potentialities, (11) cultural heritage, and (12) social conditions. Grandiose planning that is irrelevant to local economic conditions should not be imposed from outside. Rather, this will not be allowed in a PROUT economy.

What is block-level planning?
Block-level planning means decentralized planning within each socio-economic unit. Block-level planning boards will be the lowest level planning bodies, which will function at the block, district, state, national and global levels.

What are the benefits of block-level planning in the PROUT economic model?
The benefits of such localised planning are:

  1. The area of planning is small enough for planners to understand all the problems of the area.
  2. Local leadership will be able to solve the problems according to local priorities.
  3. Planning will be more practical and effective and will give quick, positive results.
  4. Local socio-cultural bodies can play an active role in mobilizing human and material resources.
  5. Unemployment will be easily solved.
  6. Purchasing capacity of the local people will be enhanced.
  7. A base for a balanced economy will be established.
  8. The development of local (block-level) industries will provide immediate economic benefits.

How should blocks be organized?
There should be a block-level planning board in every block. This body will prepare a plan for the development of the block. Above the block level there will be a district-level planning board. Thus from the block level upwards there will be planning boards to prepare and implement the local plans and programs. Planning therefore should be of ascending order, starting at the block-level – we can also say, starting at the bottom, at the grassroots level.

How will blocks be created? What factors will come into play?
They will be organized based on physical features of the area (such as river valleys, climatic conditions, topography, soil, flora and fauna), the socio-economic requirements and problems of the people, and the physico-intellectual aspirations of the people. Thus blocks should be scientifically and systematically created so as to be the healthy basis for efficient, decentralized economic planning. Each block should become economically self-sufficient and developed. Here is the unique feature of PROUT’s decentralized economic planning.

How would inter-block problems be solved?
Inter-block problems would include flood control, river valley projects, communication systems, higher educational institutions, afforestation projects, environmental issues, establishment of key industries, soil erosion, water supply, power generation, establishment of an organized market system. Hence coordinated cooperation among adjacent blocks is essential. This is called “inter-block planning.”

What should be the immediate goals of short-term and long-term block-level planning?
Short-term (six-month) planning and long-term (three-year) planning should both focus on the immediate goal of ensuring the minimum requirements for all the local people, eliminating unemployment, increasing purchasing capacity, and making that block/ socio-economic unit completely self-sufficient.

What is the most important sector of the economy?
Agriculture is the most important, because people need food first. Hence agricultural cooperatives should be formed first.

How many people should be engaged in agriculture in any particular region?
No more than 45 percent of the population should be employed in agriculture. Agro-industries and agrico-industries should be developed in the towns and villages, to create employment for the inhabitants. Most important, agriculture should be given the same status as industry, so that agricultural workers will understand the importance and value of their labor.

According to PROUT, how should economic holdings be reorganized?
An economic holding means a holding where output exceeds input. It is not possible to predetermine the size of such a holding.

What will happen in the Proutist economic system?
In a Proutist economic structure, there will not be import or export duties on consumable commodities. Once this is carried out, the earth will become golden everywhere. If there is overproduction, goods should not be exported. Rather raw materials should be converted immediately into manufactured goods. Once this is done, people who were once impoverished will begin to lead comfortable, affluent lives.

What factors affect the socio-economic potentialities of a region?
The fertility of the land, the availability of labor affect a region’s potentialities.

Does PROUT support modernization?
PROUT supports maximum modernization in industry and agriculture, while taking care that it does not lead to unemployment. In PROUT’s collective economic system, full employment will be maintained by progressively reducing working hours for everyone as technology increases production. This scenario is not possible in capitalism, which is driven by ever greater profits rather than welfare of the people.

How should the practical implementation of a decentralized economy take place?
Decentralization should be based on the formation of socio-economic units or regions, based on common factors, such as:

  • Common economic problems
  • Uniform economic potentialities
  • Ethnic similarities
  • Common geographical features
  • People’s sentimental legacy, arising from common socio-cultural ties like language and cultural expression.

Each of these units or regions will be free to chalk out its own economic plans and the implementation of those plans.

What ideal is PROUT economic planning based on?
It is based on the welfare of all people. This ideal will lead to the socio-economic liberation of all human beings. Capitalism is not based on collective welfare but rather on individual or group interests. Capitalists gain control over raw materials and thereby make their profits. This must not be allowed to happen in a Proutist economy. Rather, raw materials will be used for the benefit of the local people. In a Proutist society, there will be a very stable socio-economic environment. This will provide a firm foundation for people to develop intellectually and spiritually.

What is the first step in developmental planning?
It is to make an economic plan according to the needs of the lowest level – the block level (see further below) or the grassroots level. Economic plans and programs must never be imposed from the top. Rather, they must emerge from the grass roots. Each economic plan must evolve from that particular area by the people of that area. While formulating those plans, the hopes and aspirations of the local people must be taken into consideration.

Who will be responsible for implementation of the local economic plans?
All people will contribute to the drafting of an economic plan. But it is the moralists in the society who will be responsible for its implementation. The duty of materializing economic plans should be vested in those persons established in both morality and spirituality.

How will local socio-economic problems be solved?
By the maximum utilization and rational distribution of the resources and potentialities of that region. Therefore information will be collected such as the geographical resources of an area, including the capacity of the rivers, lakes and canals and the location of the hills and mountains, location and amount of mineral, forest and aquatic resources; the agricultural and industrial resources, the demography, including the labor skills, health and psychology of the people; the agrarian potential, and communication.

What factors are to be considered for determining the optimum size of an economic unit?
Factors like the fertility of the soil, climatic conditions and availability of water must be considered.

Does it matter whether agricultural land holdings are large or small?
No. The important question is whether these holdings are economically viable.

How will the growth of large, exploitative cultivators be prevented?
The minimum and maximum size of an economic landholding will be determined and followed. The minimum size of an economic holding will vary from place to place. The maximum size of a landholding will depend upon the soil fertility, overall production, and the expertise of the management. Economic holdings will comprise land of the same topography having adequate irrigation and other agricultural facilities.

Will distributing land to the people solve the problems of the people?
No, it will not solve their problems. The ownership of the land is not important. What matters is the production from the land.

How should economic decentralization be created as far as agriculture is concerned?
Agricultural land should be managed through the cooperative system. However, all land should not suddenly be turned over to cooperative management. Cooperatives evolve gradually out of the collective labor and wisdom of the people, of the community. Hence the community must develop an integrated economic environment, common economic needs, and a ready market for its cooperatively produced goods.

What is PROUT’s concept of agrarian revolution?
In the first phase, private ownership of land within the cooperative system will be recognized. People can have the right to employ labor for cultivation, but 50 percent of the produce should be distributed as wages to the laborers who work in the cooperative, and the owners will get the remaining 50 percent. This ratio must never decrease – rather it should increase in favor of the agricultural laborers.

What will happen in the second phase of agrarian revolution?
All people should be encouraged to join the cooperative system. The net profit will be increased in favor of laborers working in the cooperatives, so that 25 percent of profits will go to the landowners and 75 percent of profits will go to the laborers. In this phase there must be rapid and large-scale establishment of agrico-industries and agro-industries so that the rural population will depend more on industry than on agriculture for employment. There should be continual educational outreach to convince the people of the benefits of the cooperative system. In this phase, production for consumption will increase the standard of living, and the basic criteria of social security.

What will happen in the third phase of agrarian revolution?
There should be rational distribution of land and redetermination of ownership. In the third phase, as less time will be spent on physical labor, people will be encouraged to spend more time on intellectual and spiritual endeavours. Also, 100 percent of profits will go to the cooperative members.

What are the two factors that will determine the rational distribution of land?
First, the minimum holding of land required to maintain a family, and second, the capacity of the farmer to utilize the land. In this phase, landowners will not be able to employ laborers for land cultivation. Hence it will be more beneficial for landowners to participate fully in the cooperative system.

What will happen in the fourth phase of implementing the cooperative agricultural system?
There will be no conflict over the ownership of land. The problems of every village will be solved. All arrangements regarding food, clothing, h ousing, education and medical treatment will be easily provided to the people. There will be maximum utilization of the collective physical, psychic and spiritual wealth of every village.

In the PROUT agricultural system, will intermediaries have a role to play?
There will be no scope for intermediaries in the PROUT economic system. Those who engage others in labor to earn a profit are capitalists. Capitalists thrive on the blood of agricultural (and industrial) laborers.

2 thoughts on “FAQ: Planning no”

  1. Namaskar,

    Would you kindly provide me with the source that indicated 100,000 is the maximum number for the population of a block-level?
    Thank you very much!
    Shri A. Verrill
    Maine, USA

    1. We have been able to get clarification from one of the editors of the Prout in a Nutshell series, as well as the author of some booklets and articles where the number 100,000 is suggested in this regard. The reference is to the chapter on Upabhukti Pramukha in Caryácarya 1 (Ananda Marga Publications) where it is mentioned (see the last sentence in the quote):

      “Where there is a block system both in urban and rural areas, upabhukti means block.
      Where there is a block system in rural areas but not in urban areas, upabhukti means (1) block in rural areas; (2) municipal jurisdiction in urban areas. Where a municipal jurisdiction is very big and includes more than one police station, upabhukti means the jurisdiction of one police station.
      Where there is no block system either in urban or rural areas, upabhukti means an area having a population of one hundred thousand.”

      Apparently this is the only reference in the published literature and other sources of Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar. Otherwise, Shrii Sarkar mentions non-numeral factors to demarcate blocks: natural, socio-economic and people’s problems. Also, 100,00 would not be a strict max limit but an indication.

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