Development processes and Development Industry

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Mains: GS II-

  • Development processes & the development industry: the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups & associations, donors, charities, institutional & other stakeholders.
Development Processes and Development Industry
  • Ever since independence, the development of the country and the community has always been the top priority of the government. The Constitution of India mandated the Govt to establish an egalitarian social order by securing to the people social, economic and political justice. And, the nature of the state was to be a welfare one. Hence, the country embarked on a path of planned socio-economic development to attain the goals of justice.
  • However, the paradigms of development have changed over time based on experiences. The thrust in the development process has also shifted accordingly. While the experiment with development continues, real development seems to be elusive even after over seven decades of independence.
  • Initial Decades: 
    • During the initial decades, development was conceived in terms of economic development and the emphasis was on a growing public sector with massive investments in basic and heavy industries. Objectives of development were formulated and prioritized by a centralized planning system.
    • It was essentially a government-led, bureaucracy managed and expert-guided enterprise. And, the core concern of development thinking was achieving material prosperity through economic, industrial, and infrastructural development. This basic approach to development continued to guide policymakers for the next few decades until new realizations started dawning upon them.
  • Growth Without Justice:
    • Though the constitutional mandate was to build an egalitarian social order based on the principle of social equity, all attempts towards the same failed miserably. Growth happened without justice.
    • The Planning failed to provide adequate employment, eliminate poverty, and bring about institutional reforms aimed at reduction in the concentration of wealth and income. Moreover, the benefits of social and economic infrastructure have accrued largely to the relatively affluent and those living in urban areas. Rural India remained as backward as ever.
    • While the bureaucracy and the social elite flourished, the vast underbelly of the nation remained impoverished. The literacy level was still very low. Education continued to be the privilege of the social elite. Masses had no access to the basic health care system, safe drinking water. The infant and maternal mortality rates were very high. Many people lived in abject poverty, without land, water, shelter, sufficient food, and employment.

Failures of Initial Planning: The developmental planning in the initial decades failed in:

  • Eliminating poverty 
  • Providing employment to all those looking for jobs
  • Reducing inequality of income & wealth
  • Implementation of land reforms
  • Reducing inter-regional disparity
  • Education and Health remained neglected

While the planning process of initial decades which focused on GDP growth and infrastructure development did choose agriculture and industry as priority areas for development, the social sectors, such as education, public health, rural infrastructure, etc. remained neglected. These failures made the vastly growing population being looked at as a problem or liability and made the development unsustainable.

Paradigm Shift in Developmental Thinking:

  • In view of these fundamental failures of development planning, the 6th Plan document (1980-85) emphasized the need for a reappraisal of the developmental strategy.
  • There were other issues that also posed new challenges such as issues of gender inequality, sustainable development, inclusive growth, rights issues, etc.
  • By the end of the 1980s, there also emerged the concept of 'human development'. 
  • According to Mahbubul Haq, the founder of the UN's HDR, “The basic purpose of development is to enlarge people's choices…”. It means creating an enabling environment for them to exercise choices. Any development strategy, therefore, must aim at human development by focusing on:
    • Facilitating greater access to knowledge;
    • Better nutrition and health services;
    • More secure livelihoods;
    • Security against crime and physical violence;
    • Satisfying leisurely hours;
    • Political and cultural freedoms; and
    • A sense of participation in community activities.
  • Similarly, for Prof. Amartya Sen, development meant 'expansion of human freedoms', i.e enhancement of the capacity of individuals to fully lead the 'kind of lives they value'. This could be possible if certain basic rights of the individuals, such as the right to elementary education, the right to basic health care, the right to work, etc, are secured. In other words, development must move beyond economic growth. It must encompass major social goals such as reducing poverty, enhanced opportunities for better education and health, and, in general, improved quality of life.

The Characteristics of this New Developmental Thinking:

  • Development was to be based on people's needs and aspirations taking into consideration the diversity and pluralism of India. In other words, development was no more treated as a homogenous concept. It may mean different things to different sections of the population.
  • Sustainable development, i.e. development process must be in consonance with our concern for environmental preservation.
  • Human development, i.e. the focus was to be on “well-being” of the people rather than on “well-having”, i.e. now development would mean raising the standard of living of the masses by addressing their nutritional, educational, and other such needs.
  • Inclusive development, i.e. development of all, particularly those who are living on the margins.
  • Development was to have an empowering effect on individuals and social groups.
  • Participatory development, i.e. development process must involve primary stakeholders in decision making at all levels. In other words, it must treat the primary stakeholders as agents of development and not merely as beneficiaries or objects of development. This necessitates a decentralized planning system instead of a centralized one.
  • Hence, under the new paradigms of development thinking, development was to be a “community-led, community managed and local resource-based” process, instead of a “government-led, bureaucracy-managed and expert-guided” development enterprise.
  • To achieve this holistic vision of development, the government needs the cooperation and collaboration of the civil society in various developmental activities including their planning. This led to the growth of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors,  charities to act as a bridge between the government and the citizens.

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