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DEVELOPMENT

Readings and Reflections


SAMUEL B. BATARA (2001)
University of Asia and the Pacific

Theories of development sprang out in the 1950s. Poorer countries colonized


by western countries started to feel the pain of having been dependent on the
dole-outs of mother countries. The process of decolonization made the
natives realize that their rich resources have been exploited and robbed by
their white masters.

As colonized countries were granted independence, they were made aware


of the harsh realities of making do with what is left behind by the mother
countries. They found themselves classified as Third World countries
because they were poor, when compared with the rich mother country,
which belonged to the First World.

The terms “First World” and “Third World” were coined to hide obvious
reference to the “developed” and “underdeveloped nations” respectively.
The word development became synonymous with help, or grants-in-aid, that
come in beautiful packages with attached strings from rich countries.

The origin of the term “development” is, in a manner of speaking, negative.


It is claimed to have sprung into use in opposition to the term
“underdevelopment” which expressed the beggar condition and the anguish
of poor recipient countries compared with rich ones and their surpluses.

Nowadays, the concept of development does not have just one meaning.
Firstly, development can be seen from a purely economic angle. It is
synonymous with economic growth. The level of development of a country
is measured by comparing its national product with that of a country deemed
to have attained a high level of development. Development is above all an
increase in wealth. This is the capitalist model of development.

Secondly, development is seen as an overall social process which includes


economic, social, political, and cultural process. These different aspects are
interdependent. Development of one of them produces development of the
others, and inversely, stagnation of one hinders development of all.
Development is much more than mere mending of the economy, and
involves fundamental changes in the social and institutional structure.

Thirdly, an approach to development as an over-all social process


necessarily implies ethical values. Recognition of a human perspective is
necessary to view development. Development means the evolution from a
less human phase to a more humane stage. Accordingly, development is
defined as having more in order to be more. Development, therefore,
involves fundamental changes in peoples’ beliefs, attitudes and ideals.

Many people still equate development with high rise buildings in financial
districts, convention and cultural centers, long bridges linking scattered
islands, and nationwide infrastructures made of concrete. Such were the
focus of former dispensations and first ladies as historical buildings were
demolished and replaced with expensive monstrous landmarks that were
later rarely used and maintained. No one dared to care about the farmers and
workers who were displaced of their lands and occupations only to give way
to such impressive projects.

Hardly do people think of development in terms of the number of children


put through school, the number of patients attended to in a rural health
center, the number of fishermen who can easily sell their cath, and the
number of breadwinners who were given jobs.

An authentic concept can be derived from etymology. The word


development comes from three English words. The main word is
“envelope.” Envelope is an enclosure, a wrapper. To envelope is to contain,
to captivate, to imprison, to control. The next component is putting the
prefix “de.” To de-envelope is to set free, to get rid of the bondage. The third
component is the word men. De-envelope-men. Development is ultimately
the elimination of anything that oppresses human beings, thereby
empowering them to attain their full potential. It is the sure process of
humanization through the elimination of forces that de-humanize.

Development to be real must serve men. Development cannot come about at


the expense of people’s welfare and lives. It must always cause more
humane results. It must always be the development of people and not of
things.