|Essays on Food, Hunger, Nutrition, Primary Health Care and Development (AVIVA, 480 p.)|
|21. Development Nemesis|
|Part One: Development and today's reality|
As a contemporary development worker, you cannot allow yourself to be marginalized or intimidated into silence. You cannot afford the luxury of this kind of political irresponsibility. You must help unseat the sophisticated charlatans in development from their positions of influence and replace them with people who can serve the real interests of the poor. You must do so -not with a sense of moral superiority- but rather with respect for the many who have suffered from policies that cannot and should never receive our respect or support.
As a tactical step, start by becoming an advocate for a new development with ideas that involve minimum ideological antipathy or overtones, that is:
- the first task is to explode the myth that things are fine; the second is to do some educating about the major underlying problems, e.g., unemployment, infant mortality and malnutrtion trends, budget deficits, trade imbalances, world debt as seen from a macroeconomic and structural perspective;
- then, you have to -once and for all- debunk a second myth: you have to make it absolutely clear that, although there are independent causes, all causes of underdevelopment are connected to and by the persisting structural problems in the world economy dominated by the North. A hallmark of Western development has been its refusal to see any of these as interrelated problems. This has been called the "shish-kebab mentality", a mentality that focuses on the chunks of meat without considering the skewer that holds them together; (T. Vittachi).
- from demonstrating that current development praxis has problems, it is necessary to move to specific economic constraints which are understandable and convincing to th people in a way that makes it clear to them how these constraints are affecting them in their daily lives.
At this stage of your advocacy, you are still talking about old values, but applying them in sensible ways to new -or newly recognized- problems. Only then can you start breaking down the long list of other stereotypes and unreasonable expectations of current trends in development praxis.
Whether the time is now right for a large-scale mobilization of international efforts remains to be seen. But you must face the hard questions that have so far gone unanswered. Not to ask them now might cause you to succumb to amnesia missing the opportunity for needed critical thinking that could lead to finding new possibilities for effective action on behalf of a people-centered development. (Anzalone, 1990, p.4).
I will leave things here with an appeal for us to see things whole, to be consistent in the application of principles and to show equal concern for all injustice wherever it may occur. The standard is not easily met, I am aware. I will elaborate on the actors and on the future of development in Part Two of Development Nemesis which follows.
(References available upon request at email address above)
(1): Transnational, prevalent Third World model of development derived/adopted from the past development process followed by Western capitalist countries.