UN Official: How to Make Development Work

L to R: David Malone with Bunty Chand, Executive Director, Asia Society India Centre, and Michael Siebert, Consul General, Germany. (Asia Society India Centre)

MUMBAI, February 14, 2013 — Development aid and development as a practice are of substantial help to developing countries, but strategies for development need to be tailored to local environments, have local stakeholders, and respect local ways of life.

Exploring this topic at a private programme titled How We Might Think About Development, Asia Society India Centre presented a discussion with David Malone, President of the IDRC, who will assume his position as Under-Secretary-General of the UN and Rector of the UN University next month.

The audience engaged in a broad-ranging discussion, beginning with a comparison between development models of China and India, which have been vastly different, yet reasonably successful in their own rights. They went on to question widely-held conceptions about development, such as the idea that war, corruption and violence are necessarily bad for development. The notion that grey areas can exist and that development can occur with such phenomena simultaneously was explored, examining the history of countries like China and Sri Lanka. For instance, the necessities of World War II propelled women into the workforces of the US and Canada, creating an unintended consequence that would boost other fronts of development in the future.

It was also postulated that aid does not drive development, but rather complements and fills in the gaps when development is internally generated. Good governance was acknowledged as a crucial factor, though no particular system of governance was thought to hold all the solutions. Good governance was cited as the reason that explained the divergence in fortunes of Canada and Argentina from where they were 100 years ago — while Canada enjoyed good governance since, Argentina has suffered because of military and populist civilian regimes.

Turning to India’s development, democracy was recognised as a stabilising force to India, giving it an advantage over China, whose government, it was believed, has started being more responsive to its population. India’s coalition politics and the strength of its regional parties were suggested as forces that impede India’s growth, because of compromises that need to be made at every level. Better management of water resources and improving the quality of education were identified as critical factors that need attention in India.

This programme was part of our BASIC (Breakfast at Asia Society India Centre) series, and was presented in partnership with Spencer Stuart.