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Perceptions of Development and Wellbeing Dr. Preeti Mann DSA Annual Conference London, Nov-2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Perceptions of Development and Wellbeing Dr. Preeti Mann DSA Annual Conference London, Nov-2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Perceptions of Development and Wellbeing Dr. Preeti Mann DSA Annual Conference London, Nov-2010

2 Among key themes of todays conference are What alternative values, ethics and moralities could usefully inform development theory and practice? To what extent are essentially relativist positions presented as universal AND It is in this general backdrop that I would locate this current paper. The paper sheds light on how communities perceive and experience development and wellbeing and how this information could help change the way in which development in conceived and delivered. Through the case of the Gonds, the paper endeavours to show why there is not always preference for a life, which the official assume to have universal appeal

3 Indias development model The Nehruvian model versus Gandhian The industrialize or perish mantra Economic growth would reduce poverty and inequality Five year plans all emphasize economic growth and have a core goal to reduce poverty

4 Today India is being projected as a strong economic force Goldman Sachs predicts that India will surpass the American economy in 30 odd years But does economic growth automatically reduces poverty?

5 The Indian Scenario A country with glitzy growth figures but huge disparities So while economic growth has the potential to reduce poverty it is not a default fallout The Indian model of development has favoured only a select segment of the population The vast majority living in rural areas have not been able to reap benefits And for various reasons the Scheduled Tribes have been the worst hit in the process

6 Development and Displacement Land alienation and lack of access to natural resources, due to development/ conservation, have hardest hit the tribals While they constitute only 7.5% of the population they comprise over 40% of those displaced And forces of liberalization and globalization are likely to make the situation further grim Roy calls them refugees of an unacknowledged war

7 The Gonds of Singrauli Singrauli Primarily subsistence farmers (madad) Notions of land ownership Tribe or Caste – political matter too! Displacement, resettlement and compensation

8 Relative perceptions Disparity in perceiving wellbeing and development: officials and the Gonds Preference of life in the new sites is not necessarily a universal one as the developers assume! Wellbeing as experienced by the Gonds does not overlap with the way in which the officials define it Dignity, freedom, self-reliance, life free of humiliation are all important for the Gonds But the officials only focus on income and consumption while talking of Gond progress

9 Monetary incomes Money replaced multiple resources through which Gonds earned a living They became hedgehogs from foxes (Chambers, 1995) Or their entitlements reduced to use Sens poverty and famine theory Sen (1981) – Starvation happens when entitlements reduce! The displaced Gonds might be more vulnerable to hunger, as a result of reduced entitlements and loss of traditional safety nets (madad) The professionals dismiss these multiple livelihood strategies as too insignificant and they fail to understand their value

10 Cont… Cash incomes could not replace the sense of food security that came through land The jholla economy is very distressing The Gonds do not feel they are fully functional members of society For the Gonds, money is fleeting and ephemeral, while land is enduring. Abrupt marketization and the denuding social insurance models have been a big problem No matter what the Gonds earn, they all have cycles of debt – linked to their traditional ethos of consumption

11 Increased sense of destitution New materialities or factors have been added to define wellbeing among Gonds Materialities are not static and constantly shift within a community and across generations Despite increased incomes and access to infrastructure, Gonds now label themselves as POOR. The Gonds sense of wellbeing straddles two economic systems. This has exacerbated feelings of deprivation, worry, insecurity and impoverishment

12 Inequality and injustice Though, developments main goals is to reduce inequality, the Gond experience of it has been in reverse They feel poor compared to others and blame development for creating disparity in their erstwhile egalitarian society As opposed to before, it is now possible to speak in terms of rich-poor Gonds This they find socially unjust and blame it for having denuded the cohesiveness in their community

13 Conclusions Development can be made into an opportunity to genuinely enhance peoples wellbeing, but for this THEIR viewpoint is critical If development means change for the good then an understanding of what qualifies as good for the locals is crucial Creation of newer forms of poverty and vulnerability through the act of development itself needs to be acknowledged To tackle poverty we first need to know what the factors that lead to it were. If the triggers are unknown, efforts to tackle it are going to be a waste

14 Cont… India needs to make its people as opposed to economic growth its main focus Development should not merely mean to become disembedded from a traditional way of life. It needs to translate into actual enhancements in human capabilities and human development Then and only then can we hope for any reduction in the gap between the haves and have-nots

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