January 18, 2010

life in general & financial markets: (part 3) excerpts from 'the ripped chest: public policy & the poor in india' book

...continued from my 20 March 2007 post and 17 June 2007 post excerpts from Harsh Mander's 'The Ripped Chest: Public Policy and the Poor in India' book:

... Firstly, continuing failures to arrest and reverse hopeless, grinding deprivation and social discrimination in the countryside. Second, a legal and regulatory regime that imposes illegality and criminalises the often valiant daily struggles of people in poverty in cities for survival, shelter and livelihoods. Third, niggardly budgetary resources, even in comparison to rural poverty, and a town planning and land regime, which together almost completely exclude people with low and uncertain incomes from urban land of any value, for their shelter, health and livelihoods...

... in the fourth part, the book selects, out of the rich, diverse and complex range of contemporary civil society initiatives in India... the statutory institution of the gram sabha or village assembly, and the movement for the right to information. The first is an example of highly significant legal spaces for direct local democracy and participatory governance, which have been created by state policy itself, but where people's own action has in most instances tended to lag behind. The second is an example of a movement of poor rural workers and farmers, who pushed democratic spaces at their own initiative, crafted new powerful methods to hold local government accountable, and influenced the provincial and central governments to legislate right to information laws. I have included these few illustrative examples in this study, to stress that I see hope not in a strong interventionist state alone, but ultimately in the strivings of people in general - and poor and marginalised groups, in particular. These exertions of people are for pushing democratic frontiers, holding the state continuously accountable, seizing direct control over the extremely difficult circumstances of their lives, and in the end, for a more just and humane world...

CHAPTER 1: As Though People Matter - Good Governance, Poverty and Justice
... What is relevant for more incisive scrutiny here is the assumption that economic growth necessarily leads to development and a reduction in poverty.

The Human Development Report 1994 defines sustainable human development as:
Sustainable human development is pro-people,pro-jobs, and pro-nature. It gives the highest priority to poverty reduction, productive employment, social integration, and environmental regeneration. It brings human numbers into balance with the coping capacities of societies and the carrying capacities of nature. It also recognises that not much can be achieved without a dramatic improvement in the status of women and the opening of all opportunities to women (UNDP et al 1997: 4)

Even a mere reiteration of this now widely accepted scope of the meaning of 'development' would reflect how economic growth may in some circumstances contribute to some aspects of development but retard others. It may, for the sake of argument, contribute to enhanced productive employment (although the empirical evidence from many transition economies reflects a reverse trend, with higher unemployment levels). However, it may at the same time conceivably disrupt social integration and the environment. There is, therefore, even theoretically, no neat congruence between economic growth and development...

(more excerpts to follow in later posts)

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