This article provides information about the criticism of growth oriented theories of development:
In some of these theories, especially Rostow’s, the assumption that underdeveloped countries have no history of development, since they are still at the first stage of being a “traditional society”, is a historical proposition.
It suggested that the so-called underdeveloped countries have no history of development. An examination of colonial history shows that this is not the case. The burgeoning industries, mostly traditional ones were deliberately destroyed.
The destruction of the cotton textile industry in India is an example of that. There are numerous such instances in colonial history. Apart from it, classical and neoclassical theories with their stress on consumption and huge investments have been found to be unsustainable, upsetting the fragile ecological balance. By providing the developed West as a model to be emulate, as the last stage of Rostow’s model suggests, there is a continued sense of inequality, as more countries compete for fewer resources.
It is only the rich and powerful who invariably have access to the earth’s resources, creating an inequitable situation. The developed countries account for only a quarter of the world’s population they consume approximately 80 per cent of the world’s resources. Thus, the goal of mass consumption for the developing world is impossible, as this level of consumption cannot be sustained for a larger number of people.
Some of these points were not only raised by the advocates of dependency theories of Latin America but by all developing countries. And as more facts and figures started pouring in on the state of the ecology and the environment, particularly at the Earth Summit of 1990, it was realised that the growth models were far from sustainable. The human resources development approach looked at human potential as a means to further capital accumulation. Human beings were the supply part of that commodity production they were not the ends themselves.
The welfarist model and the basic needs approach looked at human beings as beneficiaries of development rather than as active participants. According to the basic needs approach provision of basic needs such as food, water, shelter was important. In a large sense they did not look at the human beings as the goal of development. In the later 1980’s and early 1990’s there were a series of development critiques, which emerged within sociology and anthropology.
These critiques questioned the basic philosophical and epistemological orientation of development. They felt that the development discourses drive to manipulate and dominate nature and the nonlinear view of history need to be critically examined. These approaches centre on the analysis of development as a cultural discourse and the role that it plays in shaping and defining reality. Many anthropologists in this framework (but not all) call for the abandonment/deconstruction of the whole epistemological and political field of post-war development toward a post-development era.
They argue that the pervasiveness of development discourse and ideology denaturalises the historical and political realities of the development enterprise. It is argued that development discourse acts as a regime of representation or hegemonic worldview that systematically shapes and constructs identities of the so-called developing ‘world peoples and does not allow people to think of alternative organising principles for the attainment of well-being. Those works most associated with this type of “post- development” critique are those of Arturo Escobar, Wolfgang Sachs, Rahnema and Bawtree.