HomeEconomyThe Role of Propaganda Films in India's Second Five-Year Plan

The Role of Propaganda Films in India’s Second Five-Year Plan

India’s Second Five-Year Plan aimed to consolidate a “mixed economy” with both private and public sectors while moving towards a “socialistic pattern of society.” This plan received support from foreign countries, primarily the United States and the Soviet Union. Propaganda films played a crucial role in conveying the ambition of this plan, emphasizing India’s historical context, development strategy, and global significance.

The Planning Model: Mixed Economy and Socialistic Pattern India’s Second Five-Year Plan

Mixed Economy: The Second Five-Year Plan envisioned a “mixed economy,” combining state-owned firms with a regulated private sector. This approach aimed to avoid the extremes of laissez-faire capitalism and complete state ownership of production.

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Socialistic Pattern: The plan sought to move India towards a “socialistic pattern of society” as articulated by the Congress in 1955. Approximately 80 percent of the plan’s resources were allocated to the public sector, leading to the nationalization of multiple industries.

Foreign Support: United States and Soviet Union

American Support: The United States, influenced by modernization theory, aimed to assist India in becoming a major market for U.S. exports. They provided resources and agricultural surpluses to India.

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Soviet Support: The Soviet Union supported India’s industrialization to develop its proletariat. They provided resources for heavy industry products.

State Propaganda Films: Shaping the Narrative

Film “Working for the Plan”: The Films Division released the Hindi-language film “Working for the Plan” just before the Second Five-Year Plan began. This film wove planning into India’s history, emphasizing a journey from ancient glory through colonial decline to national regeneration through diverse groups working together for the greater good.

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Narrative Emphasis: The film conveyed the plan’s ambition and its connection to India’s past and future. It symbolically linked the Ashokan wheel of the Indian flag to turning machine gears, highlighting the transition.

Propaganda Impact: State propaganda effectively conveyed the globally supported plan, making it the centerpiece of India’s economic vision.

Challenges and Contradictions

Shift in Economic Strategy: The plan’s emphasis on heavy industry and relative neglect of agriculture led to foreign exchange and food shortages.

Devaluation and Liberalization: Economic pressures, including wars with China and Pakistan, led to the devaluation of the rupee and liberalization of import policies.

The Green Revolution: India’s pursuit of self-sufficiency in food production concentrated power in the hands of rich farmers and landowners, impacting agricultural laborers.

Shift in Balance: The public sector’s share of national output increased, but the plan’s capital-intensive techniques generated inadequate employment.

Inequality: Planning exacerbated economic and social inequalities, including income, gender, and caste disparities.

India’s Second Five-Year Plan, shaped by propaganda films and foreign support, played a significant role in the country’s economic and social development. However, it faced challenges and contradictions, leading to a shift in economic strategy and the emergence of new policies, such as the Green Revolution. Planning transformed India’s economy but also highlighted the complexities of development and inequality.

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