Sunday, March 20, 2005

Development Needs a Better Image

It is difficult to define the term "development", though the connotations are very stereotypical, especially, from my experience, in universities and high schools. If the world is to truly be successful in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other development targets, it must first make the idea more attractive to people.

The connotations surrounding "development" are not positive to the average person. Hemp-wearing activist-types quickly spring to mind when we think of "helping the poor" or "alleviating poverty". Poorly drawn posters and finding your own non-conformist political opinion come soon after.

With such narrow stereotypes come narrow views. What is "development"? It is post-colonial rehabilitation, and giving up two-ply toilet paper to conserve the Amazon rainforest.

What else could we connect "development" to? Emerging markets; multinational corporations; stock options; capitalism; the World Bank.

While most people would shun such ideas of "development", it is important to note that these ideas are also more powerful that most stereotypical "development" movements. The age-old saying of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." comes to mind, and this is true here. Rather than hope for the virtually impossible demise of MNCs, GICs, and SAPs, those promoting "development" should learn to use them to their advantage.

There's nothing wrong with credit, and there's nothing wrong with investment.


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