Questioning the tyranny of development!

Dr. Sudhirendar SharmaNeed it be said that the term ‘development’ has lived up to what President Harry Truman had presumed it to mean in his address to the US Senate in 1945 – to denote that a large part of the world was ‘underdeveloped’. Within its broader framework a vast pool of professionals worked overtime to create an attractive vocabulary that includes terms like ‘participation’, ’empowerment’, ‘accountability’ to keep the underprivileged mesmerized into believing that their concerns were being looked into. That we have more poor people than ever before exposes the hypocrisy of development which ensures that poverty persists.Without doubt, development has remained a mischievous tool in the hands of development donors who have broadly been guided by what is known as the Bretton Woods system of economic governance. Over the years, however, the idea of development has got buried under the weight of its lofty ideology. Donors are getting increasingly concerned about the effectiveness of their taxpayers’ money. At this time when development itself has come under scrutiny, Robert Chambers’ unsettling provocations should help locate a substitute for the term ‘development’.
Though insightful and reflective, the short provocative essays remain confined within the framework of aid, participation and poverty. Without doubt, this framework has created development fatigue not only for those who preach it but for those on whom it is practiced. Global power dynamics and economic realities have gone through unimaginable transformation, and with it has changed the notion of poverty. That poverty is relative is a glaring reality of our times, when even the most impoverished is seeking ‘freedom’ and ‘dignity’ at the cost of ‘aid’. More than ‘provocations’ the world needs ‘transformation’ in the manner in which ‘development’ has been perceived and delivered.
Nothing short of substituting ‘development’ can undo what has thus far been unleashed in the name of development. Provocations for Development opens a Pandora’s Box of development myths and fallacies that development thinkers and practitioners must engage with. The author doesn’t insist that the book be read cover to cover. However, there is enough for the reader to feel provoked, at least five days a week for next fifty-two weeks….Link
Provocations for Development
by Robert Chambers
Practical Action Publishing, UK
224 pages, £8.96

Leave a Reply