5 things that took an Indian student of ‘Development’ by surprise

It is interesting to look back and make a note of the things that initially seemed so surprising/different well before one becomes too jaded. Here is a random list of five:

  1. There seems to be better access to information ‘about’ India from outside India and much less from within. London offers access to world-class institutions/ libraries and articulate experts on a wide variety of topics on India.
  2. The discovery that sustainable development had so much academic literature on the topic. Hundreds and hundreds of papers dissecting various nuances. Yet, that hardly seemed to matter in the business world. At best, in the corporate world, I’ve encountered debates about what’s more important, environmental sustainability or social sustainability. Of course, economic sustainability took precedence over the former two in most cases. I wonder why such informed debates don’t reach the masses?
  3. The ‘green revolution’ in India was not so ‘green’ after all in terms of resource consumption especially water
  4. The emergence of a form of neo-colonialism – ‘Land grabbing’ across the world particularly in Africa.
  5. The extent to which the issue of ‘population’ can stall the debate over development between the ‘North’ and the ‘South’. Many in the north see it as a show-stopper while many in the south see ‘excessive consumption’ in similar light.

and here is a bonus one 🙂

It is shocking to learn of so many ‘development’ schemes that ignored existing knowledge of local people(s) and insisted on change for the sake of change. Would not have been a problem if it had not led to people becoming dependent on ‘aid’ because local governance structures were rendered useless/ incapacitated.

These statements may seem a bit vague and utterly random but I just wanted to reflect on my experiences as a student after working for the last 10 years. If you found something that resonates with you or you have your own list of things to share, I’d be most interested…


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