Development and Growth: India is growing, but is it developing?

Last updated on Aug 30, 2009

Posted on Aug 30, 2009

There is so much emphasis in India on annual GDP growth but is a developed nation the same thing as a nation of growth?  Can growth continue in absense of “development”?  If India is no longer a “developed nation” after ruling the world’s economy for almost one and a half millenia, then is it because it lost something MORE important than growth?  What is it?  Here is a beautiful explanation by two of the foremost Systems thinkers.

They (development and growth) are not the same thing and are not even necessarily associated.  Growth can take place with or without development, and development can take place with or without growth.  A cemetry can grow without developing.  On the otherhand, a person may continue to develop long after he or she has stopped growing and vice versa.  A person can build a better house with good tools and materials than she/she can without them.  On the other hand, a developed person can build a better house with whatever tools and materials he/she has than a less-developed person with the same resources.  Put another way: a developed person with limited resources is likely to be able to improve his quality of life and that of others more than a less-developed person with unlimited resources.  Constraints on a system’s growth are found primarily in its environment, the principal constraints on a system’s development are found within the system itself.” (Gharajedaghi and Ackoff, 1982).

If you look at a Mohenjo Daro city’s sanitation system and then that of New Delhi, you know why we are NOT poised to be a developed country…. yet!  We were.  4000 years back.  We are no longer now.  If only we could get some town planners from Mohenjo Daro to visit us to advise us on Delhi’s systems!!

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