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The Lankan Investor Forum - A more respectable and reasonable place for members to discuss matters regarding the CSEThe Lankan Investor Forum - A more respectable and reasonable place for members to discuss matters regarding the CSE

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    Food for Thought

    කිත්සිරි ද සිල්වා
    කිත්සිරි ද සිල්වා
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    Food for Thought Empty Food for Thought

    Post by කිත්සිරි ද සිල්වා Sat May 26, 2018 10:04 am

    What Are We Borrowing For?

    By Ranil Senanayake –


    In the current tussle for political credibility, borrowing money for
    ‘development’ is equated with success. All politicians laud
    ‘development’ without any idea of what it means. The question ‘what is
    development’ was asked as early as February 1978, but our ‘leaders’,
    from that time onwards never had a answer and are still stuck in the
    same old rut of blind consumerism, enriching themselves and their
    cronies while getting the population deeper and deeper into debt.

    Meaning of Development (1978)

    Development and progress are words that we are very familiar with and
    rightly so. As a nation all our hopes and aspirations are centred
    around the promises attendant on these processes. Yet recently there
    have been some questions on the values of ‘development’, and as in
    every controversial issue, the battle lines have been drawn. the
    combatants are, as is usual in these affairs, mostly from developed
    countries. the people of developing countries, more often than not,
    are mere witnesses to these esoteric exchanges. I do not intend to
    imply that these arguments are not valid; rather I would like to draw
    attention to the fact that often both points of view have their
    references deeply rooted in ‘developed’ or Western technological
    thought.

    Development in the context of the current usage of the word certainly
    seems wedded firmly to Western technological thought. Whether we use
    it to describe an economic order or a social order, the roots are the
    same. e word development carries other connotations

    in the context of present usage. It suggests that the country to be
    ‘developed’ is some way inferior to the model to which it aspires to
    become. the point here is: inferior by whose standards? To an
    industrialist from a Western country, a poor village in the third
    World does indeed need to be developed. A view, that will more often
    than not, be held by the rulers of the same country. To quote Richard
    Gott (CDN 1978).

    “With the formal ending of colonial rule in all three continents of
    the third World, political independence was granted a tiny elite
    trained not to question the framework within which the world economy
    operated.”

    It is this elite that laid the foundation for education of people in
    those countries, thus the value system operating and transmitted was
    certainly not endemic. With this perspective in mind, lets us attempt
    to look at ourselves.

    We in Sri Lanka are continually talking about development. I believe
    that in the end this merely means an increase in industry and
    consumerism. It most certainly could not refer to a cultural or a
    philosophical development.


    A country in which a major part of her population comprehends
    philosophical concepts that are addressable only by a minority of
    scholars in the West must certainly be, in comparative terms, more
    developed. An argument could be made that we also do not need to be
    more developed in our agriculture. Does an agricultural system that
    does not rely on any form of energy subsidy, other than biological
    energy, need to be ‘developed’ so its productivity becomes reliant on
    subsidized energy?

    In the so-called developed world active research is under way for
    systems which are not subsidised by fossil fuel. We have it – and yet
    want to disrupt it in favour of energy intensive agricultural
    practices. Could this trend be attributed to the fact that most of our
    scholars are trained to look at problems in a purely Western
    technological perspective? Of course, all of us want to utilize our
    training for national good, but we should be careful and try to
    objectively evaluate the long-range repercussions of increased energy
    dependence.

    Hartford Tomas (CDN 1978), who is a proponent of third World
    development, comments on the help given by developed countries to the
    ‘to be developed countries’:

    “The philosophy of development from the grassroots comes up from the
    professionals, in Robert McNamara’s annual speeches and in the work of
    Schumacher’s intermediate development group.”

    Well now, with all due respect for this illustrious gentlemen, I
    submit that the grassroots existed long before Robert McNamara’s
    discovery of them, and that if one reads Schumacher’s Small is
    Beautiful, one gets the distinct impression that Dr. Schumacher took
    many beautiful things from so called ‘underdeveloped’ countries. I do
    not mean to belittle the great words of these scholars, but wish to
    point out that they are addressing the developed world. So then, what
    help do we need from the professionals? To tell us what we already
    know about ourselves in ‘developed jargon’?

    So we are still confronted with the dubiousness of the meaning of
    development. It would seem bizarre indeed if it transpired that we
    have been developing for the past 30 odd years mainly in a Western
    technological perspective. Some indication of our development can be
    addressed if we look at these questions in terms of the goals
    identified by those who describe the path. One of the standard answers
    to the development question is: the goal is economic growth. On this
    point Prof. Dudley Seers says, “in fact, it looks as if economic
    growth may not merely fail to solve social and political difficulties,
    certain types of growth can actually cause them”.

    An important question is: who accepts responsibility for the results
    of this monomania for economic growth? Are we, by changing the value
    system, creating an artificial need for goods and services non-
    essential to our well-being as measured by any endemic standards? It
    may be useful to reflect again on a statement by Prof. Seers: ‘the
    social barriers and inhibitions of an unequal society distort the
    personalities of those with high incomes no less than those who are
    poor. Trivial differences of accent, language, dress, customs etc.
    acquire an absurd importance and contempt is engendered for those who
    lack social graces, specially country dwellers’.

    Now let us take a case-in-point. Last week in the suburbs of Colombo,
    five youths were picked up for theft by the police. they each had on
    them at least Rs. 1000 worth of apparel (imported shirts, imported
    trousers, imported wristwatches, imported socks). their occupation?
    they were unemployed. How did they earn the money with which to buy
    the goods? they stole produce and other sellable items from the
    village. What was their need? they had to maintain their status
    (tathwaya). Is this development? How did these values come about? A.M.
    Hocart, who was the head of the Ceylon archaeological survey, wrote
    some poignant words that bear relevance to these phenomena.

    “Here is a politician who appeals for help in disturbing the pathetic
    contentment of Asiatic peasants and is ready to pillory as an inhuman
    wretch anyone who may wish them to remain contented. Contentment has
    become a crime, because it opens up no markets for goods or for
    doctrines, woe to the man who does not want more fish, more art, more
    science, more education, more speed. Trade has no use for him,
    politics and science abhor him. The men after their own heart is the
    one who can make two desires grow where only one grew before. What,
    though he threw to the wind, the old fashion restraints and time
    honoured virtues? What though he stoops to cringing or insolence, to
    false words, even to corruption? He is hailed as a creative artist for
    he has created desire.”

    I wonder how truthful an advocate of a Buddhist righteous society
    would be, if he believes in development in this context?

    We are often told we cannot remain apart from the world’s progress,
    and as illuminating examples of progress in the third World we are
    shown countries like Singapore, Hong Kong or South Korea. Have those,
    who want us to join the mad race of consumerism, really looked beyond
    the glitter and the tinsel? Do we want for ourselves a ceaseless
    struggle for the goods we will be taught are essential to our
    well-being? In a world whose energy resources are constantly
    dwindling, does it not seems obvious what the fate of energy dependent
    societies will be?

    My discussion is fraught with questions, and I believe that they are
    valid questions. As questions I am sure that they will receive replies
    from the people whom we, the public, have faith in entrusting our
    futures to. I am equally sure that I, among many others, will gain
    tremendous knowledge from these answers. This may serve to bring the
    dialogue of ‘development’ from the ‘developed’ to the ‘to be
    developed’ (us, in this context). For in the final analysis, demanding
    acknowledgement of individual responsibility for influencing national
    processes may serve to act as a safety valve on the social movement
    called development.

    Forty years later do we have even one politician who can comprehend or
    respond to these questions ?


    _________________
    I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.
    Socrates
    Ethical Trader
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    Food for Thought Empty Re: Food for Thought

    Post by Ethical Trader Sat May 26, 2018 11:24 am

    Timely one. Thanks.

      Current date/time is Fri Jul 19, 2024 5:43 pm