EMRE: Good evening everyone, I’m Yunus Emre. Welcome to Fair International Affairs radio show. Today, we will talk about development concept from various perspectives. But, since development issue is very controversial, we will focus on one country, Chad. Here in the studio, Jack Scholar of London School of Economics, William Modernize of The World Bank Group, and Michael Dependant of Anti Poverty Organization. Mr. Scholar what is development? Is there any definition generally accepted?
JACK SCHOLAR: Well, according to Wolfe (1973), there are three approaches in order to define development concept: In the first approach, development is defined as the struggle of small and weak societies to close the gap between them and leader societies. The second approach, in which pyramid metaphor is used, defines development as the rise of the leader societies through using small and weak societies. The third approach defines development as useless efforts of low-income societies to reach the level of high-income societies because natural resources are scarce and exploiting the resources as a result of increasing production will cause ecological disasters.
EMRE: Mr. Modernize, how do you define development if we confine you to pick one of these three approaches?
WILLIAM MODERNIZE: The first approach comes closer to me. Development is the strategy to end world poverty. The inevitable end of poorest societies is the “poverty trap” (Sachs, 2005, p.19). Since they suffer from basic necessities of health, education, and infrastructure, they are poor but at the same time they cannot invest in these basic necessities because they have to use most of their income in order to stay alive instead of investing in the future (Sachs, 2005). We can consider the development as a ladder of which different societies are aligned on different rungs (Sachs, 2005): Poor societies are situated on the lower rungs whereas wealthier societies are on the higher rungs. The wealthier societies help the others to close the development gap and facilitate the economic development. This assistance consists of direct financial aid, credit loaning, machinery and technical know-how transfer, and professional consultancy.
EMRE: Mr. Dependant, do you agree with Mr. Modernize? How do you define development?
MICHAEL DEPENDANT: The answer of this question is hidden in the strong sense of development term. This term has a power “to charm, to please, to fascinate, to set dreaming, but also to abuse, to turn away from the truth, to deceive” (Rist, 2008, p.1). It is hard to resist the temptation to be the part of a group which has a big plan of eliminating poverty entirely (Rist, 2008). With the seduction of this notion, the West, developed countries, has got an idea that they “are the chosen one to save the Rest” (Easterly, 2006). For reaching this utopian goal, the West devises big plans and achieves only a few of the aims and objectives. Unfortunately, the West continues to draw up a new big plan and the failure of the plan continues not to meet the high expectations (Easterly, 2006). From this perspective, I define development as the rise of the West through exploiting the rest. The relative scarcity of exploitable labor and natural sources limits the development of the rest.
EMRE: Well, it is an interesting point but we will focus on this issue in the later part of the program. Now, Mr. Scholar, what is development for you? Which approach comes closer to you?
SCHOLAR: Actually, I don’t support any of these approaches because they all consider economic point of view. However, it is not always true that societies which have good economic indicators are developed societies. This is because; living conditions rather than economic conditions are more crucial issue in terms of development. I can say that “the nature of development is the freedom to choose” (Sen, 1988, p.16). If people are able to choose freely, then we can talk about development. Also according to Sen, there are some instrumental freedoms such as political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees and protective security that make people live more freely and by this way promote development (Leftwich, 2000).
EMRE: Right, they are different concepts. However, we can understand wealth of societies by looking at their economic growth data like GNP, GDP and PPP, cannot we? What do you think about measuring development, Mr. Modernize?
MODERNIZE: Measuring development is hard because development is about quality rather than quantity. But it is not impossible. There are some methods that are used to measure the quality of life. Although these methods contain both the cons and pros, people can benefit from them. Human suffering index , infant mortality rate , human development index , and multidimensional poverty index are the most common methods.
EMRE: Mr. Scholar, is there any other method to measure the development?
SCHOLAR: Well. Genuine progress indicator (GPI) can also be used because it includes the essential factors such as the value of household and volunteer economy, income distribution, crime-related costs, resource depletion and degradation of the habitat and so on (Cobb, Halstead, and Rowe, 1995).
EMRE: Mr. Dependant, what do you think about this issue?
DEPENDANT: In my view, development level of societies cannot be measured because development does not include only measurable components. For instance, how can you measure correctly harmony in the society or health of the environment? I know, there are some means but none of these means can give you the absolute truth. This is because, “(q)uality of life is not a thing; it is a process, a relationship, a sense of fittingness and wholeness that changes minute by minute as reality changes.” (Meadows, 1988, p.332). However, although you cannot measure it, you will know the existence or the absence of quality when you look (Meadows, 1988).
EMRE: Now, I want to move on to the second part of our radio show. In this part, we will focus on Chad and the reasons why Chad is underdeveloped. Chad is one of the world’s poorest countries which is located in a landlocked geography and suffers from desert climate in the northern half of the state.i Mr. Modernize, you are responsible director for Chad. Can you give us brief information about this country?
MODERNIZE: As you know, Chad suffers from extreme poverty. According to human development index, Chad ranks 163rd among 169 countries in 2010 with 0.295 score. The following statistics give brief viewpoint about the country : GNI per capita is $1,067; expected years of schooling is 6 years; life expectancy is 49.2 years which is far below the worldwide average.
EMRE: Well, I just would like to know why Chad suffers from poverty. Mr. Scholar, what are the main reasons behind Chad’s poverty?
SCHOLAR: Well, in general the poor countries don’t have well-functioning markets, educated human capital, and modern and sufficient machinery and technology (Acemoglu, 2003). According to Acemoglu (2003), this situation can be caused by two main reasons: geography and institutions. If we consider from this perspective, Chad not only has disadvantageous geographic position but also is lack of modern institutions. As it is said before, Chad is located in a landlocked area and has insufficient amount of arable lands. For this reason, the agricultural activities are limited and scarcity is prevalent. Also, Chad doesn’t have good institutions that promote economic development. “Poor quality institutions, weak rule of law, an absence of accountability, tight control over information, and high levels of corruption” undermine the efforts of development and result in ineffective, inefficient, and unfair usage of foreign aids (Brautigam, and Knack, 2004, p.255). However, the specific situation of Chad makes the lack of governance in this country inevitable: decades of civil wars for independence from France; political stability hindered by tensions between Northern Arab Muslims and Southern African non-Muslims; conflict triggered because of the fact that North side is desert and South side owns the natural resources; private investment derived from political conflicts and scarce natural resources and insufficient functioning markets due to the lack of private investments.
EMRE: You are right Mr. Scholar. Geography of Chad can have some adverse effects on its development. But, it also brings some advantages like vast oil resources. If today Chad suffers from poverty, the main reason should be the lack of well-functioning institutions rather than geography. The political and international instability of Chad makes a contribution to this situation. Do you agree with me Mr. Dependant?
DEPENDANT: We have to see the big picture. I believe that colonialism is the main reason behind Chad’s poverty. From this perspective, we can throw the blame on the poor institutions. But, poor institutions are the results of colonial exploitations (Rodney, 1982). It is true that, European colonialists introduced some capitalist institutions to Africa such as financial institutions and private ownership of land and other production means (Rodney, 1982). Also, they made some infrastructure investments. However, as Rodney (1982) states their main objective was not to create sustainable institutions that would lead to African industrialization but to maximize their profits. When we look deeply into the established infrastructures, we see that they were located in either the sites of profitable businesses or neighborhoods of European settlers and expatriate staff (Rodney, 1982). Rodney (1982) uses the term of “hypocrisy of colonialism” to illustrate the results of colonialism in this region (p.215). Therefore, just like any other country in Africa, Chad which was the colony of France until 1960, remained underdeveloped. Moreover, international capitalist system creates its socioeconomic institutions in order to reproduce this dependent structure where underdeveloped societies continue to suffer from poverty (Dos Santos, 1970). I think, Chad is one of the good examples illustrating this situation.
EMRE: Mr. Modernize, what is your opinion about effects of colonialism on development?
MODERNIZE: Firstly, I want to make it clear that the West is developed because of the fact that they created their wealth by inventing science, democracy, and capitalism rather than exploiting the other societies (D’Souza, 2002). As D’Souza (2002) states “(c)olonialism and imperialism are not the cause of the West’s success; they are the result of that success” (para.14). I do not claim that colonialism is a humanistic policy because lots of people suffered from it; however, it should not be forgotten that colonialism brings benefits to next generations by establishing its institutions (D’Souza, 2002). Colonialism had positive impacts on Indians, if colonialism had lasted longer, then Africa would not have suffered from extreme poverty; because, it takes time to establish western institutions (D’Souza, 2002). Therefore, I do not believe that colonialism caused the actual situation of Chad. In my view, Chadians are responsible for their economic underdevelopment because they have failed to establish western institutions which ease the problems of governance and social conflicts.
EMRE: After analyzing the reasons behind Chad’s poverty, now we can talk about how to achieve development. Mr. Scholar, can you explain us how the developed countries have reached their actual level?
SCHOLAR: Well, according to Rostow (1960) there are five stages of development: the traditional society, the preconditions for take-off, the take-off, the drive to maturity, and the age of high mass-consumption. Every society starts its development process from traditional society stage and then moves on to other stages subsequently when necessary efforts and time are spent in order to respond to the modernization (Rostow, 1960).
EMRE: Right. Rostow considers this as a natural process that all societies have to pass through. But, this theory could not explain the reasons of underdevelopment.
MODERNIZE: If you may excuse, I want to add something. We can take into account Gerschenkron (1962) at this point who considers development as a linear and gradual improvement. According to him (1962), the roots of one society’s economic backwardness lie at the history of that society. Societies can reach rapidly the level of industrialization by using borrowed technology (Gerschenkron, 1962). However, the inherent characteristic of societies such as “the degree of endowment with natural resources, the climatic disabilities, the strength of institutional obstacles to industrialization, the pattern of foreign trade…” lessen the speed of this transformation (Gerschenkron, 1962, p.27).
EMRE: So far we have talked about just economic and sociological point of views. Mr. Scholar, are there any theories that explain the psychological motives of development?
SCHOLAR: Of course. McClelland (1963), inspired by Weber’s Protestant Ethics and Spirit of Capitalism, states that need for achievement of societies obtains development goal. According to him (1961), societies have different characteristics just like individuals and they have different achievement motives. These achievement motives which determine the need for development are not hereditary; they are improved through democracy and freedom (McClelland, 1963).
EMRE: Mr. Dependant, what is your opinion about remaining underdeveloped?
DEPENDANT: In my view, development is achieved at the expense of other societies (Dos Santos, 1970). There is an unequal market where revenues generated by dependent countries are transferred to dominant countries; dependent countries are forced to pay the interest of their loans; dominant powers collect the profits of capital exports, and because of these factors dominant powers increase their revenues and strengthen their control over dependent countries (Dos Santos, 1970). In this vicious cycle, dependent societies have no choice but to “generate larger surpluses, not in such a way as to create higher levels of technology but rather superexploited manpower” (Dos Santos, 1970, p.231) . Also, I can say that dependent societies remain underdeveloped not because they could not integrate themselves into capitalism but because they are joined to this international system in an unfair way (Dos Santos, 1970)
EMRE: As we know, the Chad-Cameroon Oil and Pipeline Project which was coordinated and monitored by the World Bank Group started in 2000. This project can be considered as a turning point for Chad’s development. It is obvious that it has positive effects on Chad’s economy and society. However, the situation of Chad still is not on the desired level. Mr. Modernize, what can you say about this issue?
MODERNIZE: Actually, the project was very successful terms of financial and technical perspectives. Thanks to this project, we can talk about two different Chad: before and after 2000. Chad’s total project revenue of $5.7 billion which far exceeded the amount once projected for the entire life of the project (Esso Chad, 2010). However, due to the inherent characteristic of Chad, the development objectives of the project could not be achieved although Chad got an opportunity to transform itself by using these resources. There were two main development objectives of this project: progress in governance and poverty reduction by means of the oil revenue in an environmentally and socially sound manner. However, Chad government failed to attain these objectives. This is because, the revenues gained by project were not used for development efforts ; government did not transform the oil wealth into improvement of poverty, environmental and social situation; the resources were wasted via corruption; development efforts are carried through top down: international society to local government and people; the local people did not demand development and did not own the project (Horta, Nguiffo and Djiraibe, 2007). As you see, this situation shows that well-functioning institutions are crucial for development.
EMRE: Mr. Dependant, what is your opinion about this project?
DEPENDANT: I think, the martyr in this project was local people of Chad. While elites and bourgeois were gaining profits and increasing their wealth, the labor force was exploited in an extreme way. The dependency relationship that I mentioned before can be seen in this example also. The World Bank Group became the guarantor of private international companies which wanted to exploit the rich oil resources in this land. It is obvious that in this project, the aim is not to contribute the development level of Chad but to exploit its resources. Also, we know that the project continued after 2006 although the World Bank Group did not involve in the project any longer. Due to this dependency relationship, neocolonialism still continues in Chad.
EMRE: You have approached the problem from various perspectives. I can say that you are all right. Thank you for your contribution. Good evening everyone.
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