The Paradox of Global Development

After World War II, the world discovered a new god, the god of development. This god has been exultantly worshipped by all developed countries of the west as well as in the poverty-stricken countries of Asia and Africa. This god of development has had a great impact not only on nations but on every individual…

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After World War II, the world discovered a new god, the god of development. This god has been exultantly worshipped by all developed countries of the west as well as in the poverty-stricken countries of Asia and Africa. This god of development has had a great impact not only on nations but on every individual living in a civilized society. The impact is so incisive that it is a nightmare to think of life without development. The development known to the world is economic only. The more there will be economic development the more will be the pace of global development. Every soul must strive hard to achieve economic prosperity by undertaking this journey of glee regardless of the consequences on humanity. In the worship of this god man has become so blind that he is walking on the road of development by crushing human values and humanity, without any realisation. This journey is fraught with disastrous and unimaginable repercussions. As the German scholar, Wolfgang Sachs says, “The lighthouse shows cracks and is starting to crumble. The idea of development stands like a ruin in the intellectual landscape.” In fact, “this epoch is coming to an end. The time is ripe to write its obituary.”
Alan Greenspan, ex-chief of US Federal Reserve, in his latest book, The Age of Turbulence talks about the future of the world, economic injustice, and China’s development and his life experience. According to Greenspan, this age is more of inequality and hence leading to turbulence. According to Human Development Report 2005, the interaction between poverty and violent conflict in many developing countries is destroying lives on an enormous scale. The growing rich-poor gap or economic polarisation in the world is contributing to a global chaos.
Despite a glut of food, and a spectacular increase in the globe’s capacity to grow more, hunger remains one of the world’s major problems. According to International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, 850 million people worldwide, or one in seven human beings, go hungry every day. According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.” That is about 210,000 children each week, or just under 11 million children under five years of age, each year. And according to a different report of Human development, every hour more than 1,200 children die away from the glare of media attention.
Poverty is the major challenge for the world today. Nobel laureate Mohammed Younus writes in his book, Banker to the Poor, “Poverty does not belong to civilized human society.” But it is an irony that poverty has now become intrinsic to every civilized society. Based on National Sample Survey data, this shows that a frightening 77 per cent of India’s population lives on a pathetic Rs.20 (half a U.S. dollar) a day.
Here is some more data, which explain the inequality and disparity in the world
Half the world – nearly three billion people – lives on less than two dollars a day
The world’s richest 520 individuals have a combined income greater than that of the poorest 416 million (HDR’05).
Richest two per cent of the world’s adults own more than half of global household wealth (World Distribution of Household Wealth Report).
The richest one per cent alone owned 40 per cent of global assets in 2000, for 85 per cent of the world total.
There is a perceptible increase in inter-personal wealth inequality in India between 1991 and 2002(national sample survey data)
The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined.
Twenty per cent of the population in the developed nations consumes 86 per cent of the world’s goods. The top fifth of the world’s people in the richest countries enjoy 82 per cent of the expanding export trade and 68 per cent of foreign direct investment – the bottom fifth, barely more than 1 per cent. In 1960, the 20 per cent of the world’s people in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20 per cent – in 1997, 74 times as much.
The combined wealth of the world’s 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in 1999; the combined income of the 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries is $146 billion.
A mere 12 per cent of the world’s population uses 85 per cent of its water, and these 12 per cent do not live in the Third World.
About 0.13% of the world’s population controlled 25% of the world’s assets in 2004.
This is the story of rising inequalities and disparity almost everywhere in the world. India has now the honour of having the richest person of the world, but with the inequality so apparent and high that the vision of India to be a developed country by 2020 seems to be a pipedream. Noted columnist Praful Bidwai writes, “The contrast between this obscene concentration of wealth at the very top, and the prevalence of mass poverty, with the most appalling conditions of life at the bottom, should shock us all. Not only is this morally indefensible and unacceptable in itself; but coupled with deep and entrenched inequalities of opportunity in this super-hierarchical, casteist society, it is especially repugnant.” (The question of inequality, Frontline, Nov 2, 2007)
After 60 years of independence India failed to get rid of some of its serious social problems. Caste system is still all prevalent, and destroying its social fibre slowly but surely. The problem of child labour can no longer be ignored. India has the highest number of child labours in the world.
India has 5 lakh formal schools for a population of 239 million. Of which 14 per cent has no building, 38 per cent has no blackboards, 30 per cent has only one teacher and 50 per cent has no drinking water. Four out of 5 children do not go to school and 70 per cent dropout before they enter class 4. Also one out of three of the world’s malnourished children live in India. There are 2,70,000 child prostitutes in this country. Society is on the verge of social collapse and the widening difference between the haves and the have-nots is leading the country towards catastrophe.
According to a report available on Internet, every second $ 3,075.64 is spent on pornography, every second 28,258 Internet viewers are watching pornographic sites and the annual revenue of pornographic sites for the year 2006 was $ 97.06 billion.
The paradox of current global development is apparent. In a world where people are dying of hunger and poverty there are some with enough money to blow up millions on vulgar and lewd things.
Dr Mahboob ul Haq, founder of the Human Development Report, explains development: “The basic purpose of development is to enlarge people’s choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and can change over time. People often value achievements that do not show up at all, or not immediately, in income or growth figures: greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and health services, more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, satisfying leisure hours, political and cultural freedoms and sense of participation in community activities. The objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives.”
Development must help nourish human soul and human values. Development without values will always cause injustice, inequality and turbulence. The role of developed society is not to humiliate and ruin the weak but to create opportunity for the development of all. Mere economic development without human resources development is unreal and unsustainable.