Dr. Sudhindar SharmaInclusive development has been differently understood, some consider it as a ‘process’ while for others it is a ‘goal’. On both the accounts, it has remained a puzzle that policymakers and development professionals have been trying to unravel on the assumption that the quality of life in any country improves when, and only when, gross domestic product per capita increases.
The monetary surplus thus generated can be capitalized to design social development programs for the poor. Backed by experience of being part of such development programs, Amarjeet Sinha asserts that public distribution system can be reinvented to deliver entitlements to social development for the poor, thus providing opportunities for the poor to develop their fullest human potential.
Enamored by limited success of some of the flagship social development programs, in the areas of nutrition, health care, education and livelihoods, the author pitches his hypothesis of paving a way for inclusive development on the strength of better ‘service guarantee’ for those who rely on it. Ironically, the strategy for reinventing the country assumes the conditions of the poor and the disadvantaged as ‘given’ and the onus of transforming their lives squarely resting on improving the performance of the ‘system’ only. Neither does it factor the legacy of failed institutions nor the unresolved challenges in scaling-up!
At this time when the idea of human development is shifting from the conventional ‘social indicators’ approach to the ‘capability approach’, An India For Everyone seems trapped in the hope of turning things around by fine-tuning the system that has thus far failed to deliver. The trouble with such an approach has been that it rarely captures the shape and texture of individual lives, what are people actually able to do and to be? Unless the complexities of human life and human striving are properly understood, social development programs may create an illusion of transformation without tweaking the lives of millions.
An India for Everyone seems first draft of a work-in-progress; its assumptions need to go through the rigour of analysis because development isn’t about well-funded social programs – it is about whether people can live in a way ‘worthy of human dignity’….Link
An India for Everyone
by Amarjeet Sinha
Harper Collins, New Delhi
182 pages, Rs 299
(Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma is author (development journalist), academic (offers lectures), advisor (provides consultancy) and activist (providing knowledge backup) rolled into one, based in New Delhi.)