Friday, November 20, 2009

pambangunan --> development

My classmate told us recently that in Indonesia, 'development' is near-term to 'pagbangunan'. I can't help but notice that it has a similarity to our tagalog term 'pagbangon' which means 'to arise'...hmmm, then it must be how development is best viewed: to become better than before, to be more 'coz you are able to do more for more.

However, economic development does not dwell only in the quantitative aspects but on the other non-measurable aspects as well. Economic development is both a policy objective and a means to achieving other policy goals, such as full employment, poverty alleviation, egalitarianism, and social progress.

When asked by Dr. Loanzon to give our own views of development, my usual way is to somehow understand what it is not. I always insist that economic development, though closely related to, is not identical with economic growth. Growth in real GDP is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for development. An economy may show a sound growth rate but may still fall well short of development. Neither is a high per capita income an important indicator of development. There are Muslim kingdoms with a remarkably high per capita income but still lack in the prerequisites of development.

Moreover, I can not equate development with a term for 'equal-footing'. Narrowed gap between ‘have’ and ‘have-nots’ is both a component of the development process and its goal. It was possible for underdevelopment and egalitarianism to co-exist as in the case of primitive societies. Meanwhile, a highly developed economy may have gross inequalities, take US with a Gini of 40+.

What is economic development then? Economic development is growth in GDP accompanied by relevant social and institutional changes where growth can be sustained too. These changes include reduction in absolute poverty (or whatever it is you want to call it), a better quality of life (you know what I mean), development of physical and commercial infrastructure (even as it not sky-high), higher savings, increase in employment opportunities, high literacy level (the true one), improved productivity of labor and other factors of production, somewhat-sophisticated techniques of production, a more positive attitude towards life and work, and (please, please)a stable political system.

Now ain't that sounding very profound? Real question is: Can we...? Will we...? Are we...?

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