What is development?

Development is an awkward concept to pilot. What distinguishes a developing country from a developed one? Is the answer a prosperous economy? Or, the contentment or healthiness of its people? Perhaps it’s the way its governed? Or maybe it’s their scientific advances?

How can we possibly define ‘development’ and when we have determined it’s meaning how can we implement it where its needed most? Would it be possible to quantify or hypothesise it in order to reach the end goal? Furthermore, for us Westerners the greatest obstacle is becoming absolutely disentangled from the distinctions that tenaciously and inherently come with being from a developed nation. How can we rid ourselves of the authoritative mentality instilled in us as Westerners?clinton-uganda-007

I have found myself battling with these queries as I attempt to understand the meaning of development. I have found that my attitude towards development is ever changing. Normally, this indecisiveness would be characterised as a flaw. However, I find that when dealing with matters of International Development the answer’s in the name. We are forever ‘developing’ new opinions and reasonings and this is, generally, a great thing. We are continuously evolving as human beings and thus I find myself constantly reflecting on what I perceive International development to encompass and whether we, as westerners, are even making a dent of a difference in this world.

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Nonetheless, I have come to a conclusion of what development signifies to me. I’ve circled back to a meaning that is adequately reflective and somehow also flexible. To me, development comes down to chance as it’s something that liberates us, westerners, from chains of our authoritative mentality as it encourages self-governance. ‘chance’ charms us with its effortlessness but is rich with its kindness. I’ll explain, when a population is presented with more chances, I’d argue, the more likely it is to develop. Chance permits decision while also promoting progress.

I have lived most of my life in places where there is a great lack of chances for the majority of the population. I was born in Venezuela, a country rich in petroleum and many other things. A country where people once shared the same commodities as those in the West. However, now in 2016 the majority of the population is living on $13.50 a month, this is comparable with Ethiopia and lagging behind it’s neighbouring countries (Brazil, Colombia Ect.)(2) As with the case of most developing countries chances are next to none.

Now that I have established that development, to me, means chances the next question we need to tackle is why? What’s to blame for the lack of opportunity in some countries or the decline in their wealth?(1) And beyond that how can we effectively implement more chances in developing countries without shoving our ‘western’ ideals and authoritative mentality down their throat? How can we adequately execute progress for these countries without promoting Western supremacy and belittling the very people we are meant to be helping? These are all the controversial questions that we must confront in order to execute progress and make room for development.

References:

  1. World Bank. 2003. World Development Report 2004: Making Services Work for Poor People.
  1. Forbes. (2016) Congratulations to Bolivarian Socialism: Venezuela’s Minimum Wage Raises to $13.50 A Month.[Online] Available from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/05/02/congratulations-to-bolivarian-socialism-venezuelas-minimum-wage-rises-to-13-50-a-month/#4d07adbee58a
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