Saturday Event–Development in Gujarat

ITSA hosted its second Speak Off this Saturday. We didn’t have a guest lecturer this week, and we still had a great discussion. There were no shortages of opinions. There was a good point brought up about balance in development. There has to be a balance between the old and the new, the urban and rural, the social and economic development. If there is too much of one without the other, the development is not going to be sustainable. In the context of Gujarat, and Ahmedabad specifically, the consensus was that there is too much economic development, and not enough social development. We hadn’t really talked about social development before, even though it is especially relevant to an NGO like ITSA. The balance is needed in development if it aims to be sustainable.

At one point, a comparison between India’s development and America’s development arose. America is a young country, and in less than 400 years has become a completely developed country. I think that there is an interesting comparison to be made, in terms of how we developed so quickly, but it was also much easier to develop America because it was a completely new country. India has a culture that is thousands of years old, and traditions surrounding that. I think it is much more difficult to Westernize a country that so clearly has it’s own unique history. India has to figure out how to balance their beautiful ancient culture with a newer, more modern culture.

Now that the economy is globalized, India wants a piece of it. But while trying to catch up with more developed countries, there is a disconnect between the resources that India gives away, and those which it keeps. The downfall of a globalized economy is that countries, especially the US, are no longer able to sustain itself solely on American products, everything is imported. India has resources that are exported to other countries that depend on them, while India is also trying to sustain a huge population.

Personally, I have never talked that much about development, I have never taken a class on it or anything like that. Growing up in New York City, real development doesn’t really happen, only gentrification. But India is literally building up around us, with huge buildings suddenly appearing. On our road, there are multiple construction sites where we have watched buildings rise floor by floor. Development has to be more than just buildings. It has to involve the whole community, and include those from all social strata.

~Sadie Rain
Brown University
Public Director, ITSA 2013

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