Reinventing the concept of development

K K Khullar
Development does not mean dams, factories, flyovers, multi-storey buildings, malls, plazas, cinema houses liquor shops and speeding trucks. Nor does it mean night-clubs, drunken dancing, eating big fish and pizzas. Development is all about the human beings, his mind, body and soul.
Development also does not mean scientific inventions, it means scientific temper, it means the rule of mind over the matter. Dr. Radhakrushnan had said science has taught us how to fly in the air, how to dive deep into the seas, but not how to walk on earth like decent human beings.
Development depends on learning. And learning takes place in schools and classrooms, among teachers and children not in the ministries of Education or HRD miscalled. If learning does not take place in schools, there is no development. If our more than five hundred universities including Deemed (read doomed) universities (544 total) do not have any social or economic responsibility, there is no development. That is why India’s place in HDI (Human Development Index) let loose every year by UNDP is so low. Lower still is our gender-equality status in spite of the fact that there was woman Prime Minister. Woman CJI, several women ministers at centre and states. Even now we have a woman Speaker, a woman leader of Opposition.
Yet the plight of ordinary women is miserable. We have not been able to abolish a man-pulled ricksha or the prostitution. That is why, out of 147 countries India stands at 125 in Gender Equity Index and at 134 out of 187 countries in Human Development Index. As such it will be appropriate not call it a Human Development Index but its opposite. For development our ministers don’t have to travel abroad but look within. Foreign experts should be expelled from India at one go.
Yet our HRD experts fail to understand that Education is the corner stone of development and primary education its foundation. According to an ancient Indian proverb a man without education is a beast without horns and tails. In those days the father’s blessings to a daughter’s departure after marriage was :’May you strive for excellence, participate in intellectual debates and bring glory to your new home through Vedas and Vedantas and get so much love from your in-laws that you should forget your parents!’
And yet when the married daughter comes to her parents on some festival, the excited father waits for the home-made food prepared by her. That was India’s culture. Today the father and the daughter are in the court of law.
How farther we are from the goal today is a matter of deep regret. It is a pity that our development depends on wearing foreign clothes by women, playing with foreign toys by our children, even our ‘sari’ has been given a foreign (read sexual) touch.
I will conclude my study with a development story. A Nobel laureate was waiting for a discussion with another Nobel laureate on the subject of human Development. But he was worried that his irrepressible daughter will not allow the two to have any peaceful and serious dialogue because of her frequent interventions. So he thought of a plan – a workable plan to make her busy atleast for an hour or so. A map of the world was hanging on the wall.
He tore it into a hundred pieces and asked her to join the parts. He was satisfied that he had made her busy joining the torn pieces of the world map.
But lo and behold she came back to study room within minutes. ‘Papa, I have done it’: she said joyfully.
The Nobel Laureate was surprised. It was the world map as before.
‘How have you done that’? he asked. ‘I knew that on the back of the map there was the picture of a man and it was quite easy for me to join the different parts of the world. The moral of the story is that if you take care of the human being, the world will take care of itself.
I think time has come we must re-invest our concept of development wrongly based on per capita income, GDP and his line of poverty. The Planning Commission’s statistics has not helped India’s position in the comity of nations, it has hindred. In fact in economic affairs we have become a laughing stock even from our allies. John Kenneth Galbraith was right when he said that India’s socialism is post-office socialism. It takes aid from abroad and gives aid to countries like Nepal and other neighbouring countries.
Our national leadership has not yet realised that no foreign aid is without strings. The case of DPEP in Bihar is an eye-opener. The case of ‘Lok Jumbish’ in Rajasthan is no different. They are all primary Education projects funded by foreign aid. And it is a universal truth that a Govt. which cannot fund its primary education through the Consolidated Fund of India has no right to exist.
It is equally true of the Primary Health Centres. Atleast a review of these two vital programmes of Human Development should be undertaken without delay. Time is of essence and if we miss this opportunity we will be doomed.

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