The political and social context within which the Fifth Five Year Plan panned out is very interesting and this context was being created since the period of the Fourth Five Year Plan (1969-1974). During the Fourth, India saw a sharp upsurge in inflation when essential commodities such as food and oil became very costly. This led to political and social unrest that shook the very foundations of Indian democracy. Owing to the record high inflation, students in Gujarat led a movement against inflation. The movement, called the ‘Nav Nirman’ (Regeneration/Reinvention Movement) started in 1974. It started as an argument over a 20 per cent hike in the hostel food bill in the L.E. College of Engineering (Morvi) Saurashtra, but snowballed into a major public agitation that eventually led to the fall of the Chimanbhai Patel government in Gujarat and gave rise to a national crisis. ‘Nav Nirman’ sparked yet another movement in Bihar in 1974 against misrule and corruption in the government. This was led by none other than the most revered Socialist leader in India, Jayaprakash Narayan (popularly called JP). The ‘Bihar Movement’ as it came to be called, was mainly a student movement. When Indira Gandhi was found guilty of violating electoral laws by the Allahabad High Court, JP called for Indira to resign and gave the call for ‘Total Revolution’ or ‘Sampoorna Kranti’ from Gandhi Maidan in Patna in 1975. Jayaprakash Narayan had attracted a gathering of 100,000 people at the Ramlila Ground and thunderously recited Rashtrakavi Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s wonderfully evocative poem: ‘Singhasan Khaali Karo Ke Janata Aaati Hai’. The student movement spread throughout the country and became the chief cause for the clamping of Emergency in 1975, which suspended Democracy and the Constitution in India for 18 months. These 18 months are always remembered as the darkest days of Indian political system in history till now. Later, post-Emergency, Indira Gandhi lost to a broad coalition of anti-Congress parties called the Janata Party, forged mainly by the Socialists but which was joined by both the Right as well as the Left wings of the Indian political spectrum and the dissenters of Indira’s own party. Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister after Indira lost the elections badly and the Fifth Five Year Plan was not allowed to be completed by the Janata Party government and had to be terminated in 1978 — 1 year short of its 5 year term.
Growth of Agriculture
In the Fifth Five Year Plan, Rs. 7,411 crores was allocated to the development of agriculture and irrigation. It was later increased to Rs. 8,084 crores and this accounted for about 20.5 per cent of the total Plan Outlay.
Special emphasis was laid on the extension of irrigation. Fifty major irrigation projects covering 14 million hectares were envisaged in the Plan. Also, the area under High-Yielding Variety of seeds (HYV seeds) increased. This Plan promoted research on improved seeds and State Seed Corporations were formed. It attached great importance to grants of loans and subsidies to the farmers and a Small Farmers Development Agency was formed. This Plan also promoted dry farming in drought prone and rain-fed areas.
Agriculture recorded an annual growth rate of 4.6 per cent. The production of food grains reached 121 million tons in 1975-76, declined to 112 million tons in 1976-77 due to bad harvests, but again peaked to a level of 126 million tons in 1977-78.
- Oil seeds production increased from 88 lakh tons to 96.6 lakh tons.
- Cotton production increased from 63 lakh bales to 72 lakh bales.
- Sugarcane production increased from 141 lakh tons to 165 lakh tons.
- But the production of pulses fell from 83 lakh tons to 77 lakh tons.
Though the broad objectives of the Plan were to reduce poverty and achieve self-reliance in agricultural production and defence, the Plan also emphasised the following objectives :
- To reduce social, regional and economic disparities.
- To initiate land reforms.
- To check rural and urban unemployment.
- To emphasise on household industries like carpet-weaving, handlooms, sericulture and handicrafts.
- To encourage self-employment.
- To encourage import substitution in areas like industrial machinery, chemicals, paper, iron and steel and non-ferrous metals.
- To extend credit and devise support policies for the development of cottage industries.
- To develop labor-intensive technological improvements.
The Fifth Plan was designed to achieve the following objectives:
- Removal of poverty.
- Attainment of self-reliance in agricultural production and defence.
- Promotion of high rate of growth.
- Better distribution of income.
- Significant growth in the domestic rate of savings.
Annual Growth rates during the Fifth Five Year Plan
National Income 5.2 per cent
Agricultural Production 4.2 per cent
Industrial Production 5.9 per cent
Per Capita Consumption 2.3 per cent