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   Interrogating Development
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
24 Feb 2011

Development, as it is not understood

Do those who are subjected to hegemony of dominant development perspectives produce a counter discourse? Doesn’t modernity marginalize the poor to the extent that they only lament their condition? Quite in contrast, even while overwhelmed by irony, distance and cynicism the marginalized produce a counter discourse that despite being context specific reflects resilience and adaptability, and is not only rooted in production and consumption but in regeneration too.

Works of immense scholarship, the twelve essays in the volume provide fresh insights on the role of culture in shaping the attitudes towards economic development of the marginalized community. The ongoing struggle of the marginalized is beyond the basic material entitlements, reflected in their collaborative resistance to stigmatized existence. That the powerless and voiceless need emancipation through aid is a misconstrued notion of development, it argues.

In the world that is reeling under the influence of climate change, ignoring the power of cyclic bio-regeneration and socio-ecological reproduction of the marginalized poor could indeed be catastrophic. Drawing cases from India, Europe and the Americas, Interrogating Development exposes multidimensionality of marginality as it relates to ‘development’. Without doubt, the notion of development has accentuated the destruction of community and its diverse cultures.

Delving deeper into the world of development from the perspectives of the marginalized, the authoritative essays by well-known authors like Frederique Marglin, Ashis Nandy, Gail Omvedt and Maren Bellwinkel-Schempp provide multi-layered insights into cultural dimension of human existence. In the long run, culture is what connects individuals to the social world in meaningful ways. Curiously, culture is what is at stake at the altar of development.

Without doubt, Interrogating Development will enrich the contemporary discourse on development at this time when the world is going through a dramatic phase of self-assertion by diverse communities reeling under the onslaught of development that is impinging on their life, lifestyle and livelihoods.

Interrogating Development
by Frederique Apffel-Marglin, Sanjay Kumar & Arvind Mishra
Oxford University Press, Delhi
307 pages, US$ 29.95

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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