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Alternative Development Perspective_Concepts and%2 (1)

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Alternative Development Perspective:
Concept and Strategy:
Learning from Enviro-Development Debate

\u2018Resources and Livelihoods Group\u2019 of Prayas
2004
Concept and Strategy of Alternative Development Perspective: Learning
from Analysis of Enviro-Development Debate
Contents
1
Introduction
1
2
Conceptual Core of the Mainstream Perspective
2.1 The Conceptual Core of the Mainstream Perspective
2.2 The Interconnectedness of the Core
8
3
Introduction to Alternative Perspectives

3.1 The Reformist Perspective
3.2 The Perspectives from Radical Environmentalism of Euro-
American Origins
3.3 The Radical Perspectives of Indian Origins

12
4
The Four-Step Analysis of the Development Debate

4.1 Introduction to the Framework
4.2 The Economic Component of the Debate
4.3 The Knowledge or Epistemic Component
4.4 The Socio-Cultural Component
4.5 The Political Component

16
5
Formulating Sustainable Livelihoods Perspective

5.1 Introduction
5.2 The Building Blocks
5.3 The Economic Component of the SLP
5.4 The Other Components of the SLP
5.5 The Strategic Principles
5.6 The Major Strategies for Transition
5.7 Conclusion

46
Bibliography
64
Annexure I: Radical Perspectives of the Indian Origin
65
1
Section 1: Introduction
History of the Development Debate

The development path followed by the so-called developing as well as developed
countries is based on the combination of two principles\u2014viz., macro-economic growth and
'trickle-down' theory. Although serious challenges were posed before this mainstream
development model at the ideological and theoretical level, the conventional model continues
to guide the development theory and practice of the international and national mainstream.

As the theoretical shortcomings and practical failures of the conventional
development theory and practice started becoming evident, there have been many attempts in
the last five decades to critique its theoretical as well as practical aspects. In response, the
mainstream agencies have also tried to revise the model time and again, without changing its
core. This gave rise to a long history of the debate on the issues of development in what are
called Southern, third world, underdeveloped, or developing countries.

The development debate began with the end of the World War II. In this period, the
classical school, based on the capitalist market economy model, dominated the mainstream
development thinking and practice. The classical model was politically liberal and socio-
culturally modernist in character. The concept of economic development as the primary
objective of the development practice dominated the early phase. The assumption was that
increased economic growth and higher productivity would bring economic prosperity, which
would automatically trickle down to all sections of society and would eventually lead to
social progress.

The alternative in the form of soviet socialist model of economy had emerged well
before. Although there were no fundamental differences between the capitalist and soviet
socialist model over the substantive content of development, the socialist model prescribed
different development process with an emphasis on the role of the state. Consequently, the
economic and political mainstreams of many newly independent countries adopted different
mixtures of these two models, which were known by an umbrella term, viz., mixed economy
model. Although there were many variations within this model, it was primarily based on the
principles of state planning and that of the simultaneous existence of public and private
sectors. The pursuit of macro-level economic growth through industrialization remained the
primary objective of these countries.

In 1960s & 1970s, the critique of the mainstream development model started evolving
mainly around the issue of equity. The apparent failure of the mainstream development
model in ensuring a decent standard of living for large populations proved vacuity of the
trickle down theory. The concentration of wealth in the hands of a small section and the
concomitant pauperization of majority of masses resulted in widespread dissatisfaction and
disappointment about the growth-oriented development model.

In the late 70s, the environmental or ecological perspective started gathering strength
in the West (or the North). Gradually, it brought forward the question of hidden
environmental costs of the modern development project. It developed a thorough critique of

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