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Lets define development

Lets define development

by Ms. Pallavi Gupta

When we talk about development, it is very important to understand what does development mean exactly. There are many prominent theories and perspectives on it, but the one that stands out the most is the concept of Development as Freedom (of choice) by Amartya Sen.

There are many ways to gauge development: one can assess it on the basis of the economic indicators, human development indicators, MDGs etc. But whats interesting about development as freedom is the perspective, that all-round and true development should result into an enhanced capability of a person to choose and decide what’s good and bad for herself and for her children- to “lead the kind of lives they value”.

Sen emphasizes five types of freedoms – political freedom, which include civil rights, an uncensored press and free democratic elections; economic freedom includes both free markets and fair and equal access to resources required to participate and benefit from market economy; equal social opportunities, refers to the arrangements that the society and the government in a country makes for ensuring education, health care, etc which greatly affect a person’s capability to improve her situation; transparency  guarantees, which lays down norms for people to deal openly with each other and under the guarantees of disclosure and lucidity, help to prevent corruption and financial irresponsibility; protective security refers to the social safety net (e.g. unemployment benefits, income supplements for the poor) that prevent abject poverty and deny people of their freedom as mentioned in four parameters above.

All the indicators mentioned above enhance one’s capability to function effectively in the society, and any reason that may result into lessening such capability of an individual, results into poverty. This multidimensional interpretation moves far beyond the notion of poverty as being solely related to a lack of financial resources. For example, Sen’s viewpoint would suggest that inadequate education could, in itself, be considered as a form of poverty in many societies.

Naturally the next question is what is the appropriate methodology to bring developmental change and eradicate poverty providing people their freedom of choice to choose the lives they want to live.

There are many schools of thoughts in this area as well. Some consider government with its immense reach can be the only organization that can execute projects having measurable impact. Others think private sector, not limited by issues like bureaucracy or political interference, can be the sole impactful body.

Both the sectors have their limitations and both have their virtues.

Government with their strong reach has a better understanding of the problems and a soft infrastructure or framework in place to implement impactful concepts, while private sector with its good grasp of market forces and ingenuity can devise innovative and affordable solutions to the issues. It has been ascertained by many development theorists that the best way of having a developmental impact is when the two forces join hands. Private sector can be the source of innovative technology and solutions while public sector can provide guidance in terms of implementing those solutions in a way so that it can impact millions.

This PPP (Private Public Partnership) model has been of great significance in the fight against poverty around the world. In the western world, it is not a concept anymore but a recognized way of implementing government schemes and services. India too has experimented with this model and has achieved great success in the area, especially in Kerala.

There is no one model that will work well everywhere. However it should be easy to see that that any model that puts the onus on the people to solve their own problems and lead their own development using both the free market forces and government support is the best way to achieve impact.