Courtesy Reuters

The Bombay Plan

ASMALL group of influential business leaders in Bombay drew up and published in January of last year a plan for the economic development of India which may be said to have opened a new chapter in Indian economic history. This plan was originally intended for private circulation only; and the decision to publish it in pamphlet form,[i] with wide consequent publicity, came afterward. The Bombay Plan, as it is now popularly called, did not represent the opinion of the whole business community. But it claimed public attention because it set forth the considered views of some of the front-rank businessmen and captains of Indian industry.

The signatories were not merely men of business experience but were inspired by more than a fair measure of public spirit and responsibility. Mr. J. R. D. Tata and Mr. G. D. Birla were primarily responsible for the initiation of the study. Mr. Tata is head of the well-known House of Tata, and is noted in India for his progressive outlook on life and business. Mr. Birla, the head of Birla Brothers, who own and manage a variety of industrial enterprises, is interested in educational and social work. Sir P. Thakurdas, the doyen of the business community, has enjoyed a reputation for possessing a wide outlook and for courageous thinking and speaking. Mr. Kasturbhai Lalbhai and Sir Shri Ram are leading mill-owners in Ahmedabad and Delhi respectively, and have business activities extending to other fields. The other three signatories -- Sir Ardeshir Dalal, Mr. A. D. Shroff and Dr. John Matthai -- are employees and directors of Tata Sons, Ltd., and the fact that they too signed the pamphlet is significant as showing that it was in no sense to be regarded as an industrialist's plan, at least when it was put out.

The reception accorded to the plan was unique. Within a few days of its publication the demand for copies was so great that it had to be reprinted for several successive months. Public

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