Issues in development

MAPPING DEVELOPMENT — 1960-2000: Kirit Shelat; Published by Shri Bhagvati Trust, Satellite Road, Ahmedabad-380015. Rs. 300.

KIRIT SHELAT, a serving IAS officer, has carried forward a noble - and literary - tradition in the Gujarat cadre. In his latest book he has mapped the absorbing process of development, based on his experiences in Gujarat.

As an officer who has held posts like Rural Development Commissioner, Secretary in the Energy Department or as Commissioner for Employment and Training, Shelat is eminently qualified to extrapolate the Gujarat experience into wider formulations.

He starts off by pointing out that in spite of drought, scarce rainfall, class conflicts and riots, Gujarat has developed in various directions. A multi-pronged approach to development with people's participation wherever possible is the hallmark of this process — whether it is the anti-poverty programme or the development of heavy, light and small scale industries; the goal has been on how to make the economy sustainable.

The reader may find his views on entrepreneurship development particularly interesting.

The author's argument is that the environment is strategically important for the goal in question. A recent but not much noted development in Gujarat has been the formation of units for environment management along with disaster management.

Shelat speaks also of how science and technology — IT networking — have helped the development of education and all-round development of Gujarat. Disabled persons also have a place in this process and they have been offered special programmes for their upward mobility.

However, he has raised but has not answered a few very relevant questions: how does one solve the conflict between groups planning development projects? How does one solve the conflicts, which occur in the very process of development? Are any pressure groups required to be created for development? Who would speak up for development, qua development? How long should the government continue to interfere through corporate institutions? How does the problem of subsidy get solved? How can political commitment for development be ensured? How does one assure that organisational and development processes go hand in hand? How does one design development to make it time-bound?


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