This article provides information about the development as multiple connotations:
There are several connotations about development, such as development as growth, development as change or transformation and development as modernisation. In economic terms, development as growth refers to an increased capacity to produce consumption goods and a concomitant increase in consumption patterns.
As growth, development very simply may be defined with respect to an increased ability to fulfill basic human needs of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and education. In a third sense of growth, development has also been defined in terms of expansion of possibilities, an increase in individual choices, capabilities and functioning. Development in the above senses carries with it connotations of being positive, progressive, and natural beneficial and inevitable.
Development as change and transformation refers to the economic, social, political and cultural processes of change in human societies. Development is also understood as modernisation, though some may disagree about them being one and the same thing. Often modernisation being seen as a means to development. In the economic realm it refers to the processes of industrialisation, urbanisation and technological transformation of agriculture.
In the political realm, it requires a rationalisation of authority in general and a rationalising bureaucracy in particular. In the social realm it is marked by the weakening of ascriptive ties and the primacy of personal achievement in advancement, and in the cultural realm it is the growth of science and secularisation, along with an expansion of the literate population that makes for what has been referred to as a “disenchantment” of the world. Development in this sense of modernity stands for what is understood as Westernisation, where the west stands as the model for the progress of the rest of the world.
Development in this sense becomes a comparative adjective, which is based on the western centric assumption that there is a process of linear evolution of the world in which the West leads world history and evolution and that other nations must follow in their footsteps towards a homogenous world.
As development was predominantly defined in terms of increase in productivity, economic prosperity and an expansion of the market economy; underdevelopment had been constructed as the phenomena of poverty, low productivity and backwardness.
There was optimism that economic growth was the fastest road to development. From the 1950s onwards, therefore, there has been an obsessive focus on industrialisation and growth of GNP and it has been assumed that the natural consequence of a rapid growth in these will bring about positive changes in existing social conditions. However, there were several adverse consequences due to this.
As development has meant industrial growth, profits and resources were diverted to feed industry at times ignoring the basic subsistence need of society. It obviously led to the expansion of the market at the cost of livelihoods for many. While it has generated utilities of consumption and luxury, it has also resulted in higher levels of pollution and erosion of natural resources that threaten mankind’s very existence.
The growth-oriented development was accompanied by an increase in inequalities and social disintegration. There was evidence everywhere to show how development itself either left behind or even create a new large area of poverty and stagnation, making for marginalisation and exclusion of sections of populations from the fruits of social and economic progress.
Gunder Frank who perceived the injustices of the existing developmental processes, coined the phrase development of underdevelopment, for held that the process of development that is underway makes some people and regions developed while others are underdeveloped as a result of this global dynamics of the world system.
Economic growth has manifested itself in terms of an internationalisation of the economies of developing nations a boom in the financial capital at the disposal of nations; and increased mechanisation impacting processes and patterns of production and consumption. It has also meant increased concentration of wealth, wide disparities in distribution of wealth, the withdrawal of the welfare state and an increasing role of the military in the political and economic life of countries.
Thus economic growth and economies of concentration cannot be a generator of development in the widest sense of the word. The economic model is mechanistic and its assumption of economic rationality is not suited to poor developing nations. A liberalised market, for instance, means an exclusion of the vast masses of the poor people from economy and that cannot be a way of removing poverty, the greatest developmental issue for the developing world.
Increased income levels, multiplied exports and raised economic growth of a few regions cannot take away from the urgency of the problems of increasing poverty of the masses, depleting resources, Unemployment, underemployment, inadequate housing and mounting foreign debts that threaten national sovereignty, besides entailing a chain of reactions that can deplete national resources and capabilities to irreversible limits.
If this economic development causes anxiety, alienation, fragmentation, cynicism and demobilisation, it would itself abort what it seeks to do, that is, progress of humanity. Yet we need development to address the powerlessness that people feel due to illiteracy, unemployment, lack of productive assets and lack of knowledge. We cannot deny the need to change the fact of substandard existence and poverty that dogs the vast masses of humanity.
We must also work towards expanding possibilities for people to fulfill themselves, yet we must be cautious of “the binary, the mechanistic, the reductionist, the inhuman and the ultimately self- destructive approach to change” that development has meant, given its political anchoring.
Economic development has been the prime concern of the modern state. However, this concern has been widely linked with the ideology and power structure of the state. As the nature of the power structure and state ideology are diverse, there have emerged diverse models of economic development across the globe. No need to say that economic development has been the prime concern of the modern state that is.