Desire named Development by Aditya Nigam
Rarely do you a read a book, where you agree to everything that the author says. This small book, almost like a long essay is everything that we need to know and understand as the citizens of this time and space.
Can you answer this: Does the economy exist for the sake of consumer or the consumer exists for the sake of economy? Do you drive the your car or does your car drive you? If you put your thinking caps and apply a bit of commonsense the answer is very obvious. We are being pushed by the economy to be much bigger consumer than we need to be. The needs are being created and then the products or the range of products are being produced to meet that need. Lost in this race of consumerism, we are loosing the simple and basic joys of life.
Author has tried to bring attention to the fact that the private corporations are exploiting the natural resources with the help of the administration in such a way that it only benefits them and the small land owners who are exploited get nothing out of it. I also liked his example of how one automobile takes the space of 5-6 dwellings spaces of the poor families. Unfortunately the giver is always the poor of the society and receiver the rich adding to the economic divide. An interesting observation is that government wants to divest its loss making units as they are inefficient and not so productive and the assumption is that the private players can run them better. But when it comes to actual divestment, it is the hughly productive companies that are divested, as private players are hardly interested in the loss making units. He has also looked at the conundrums like Tata Nano, which is supposed to provide four wheels to families that do not have them, but at what cost? He questions our calling the European experience of industrialization as the standard experience and shows how there is no such thing as each country there had its own journey and in its own way.
Author definitely displays his knowledge of the subject he is talking about and keeps it to the point without beating around the bush. He starts the book on a very strong note, by putting the above-mentioned questions to the reader and making a point that you are not deciding what you consume, but you are being made to decide in the way the industry wants. He then goes on to mention various cases where the industry is not being fair to both the citizens and the environment and also emphasizes the nexus between the industry and the administration without which lot of so called development would not be possible. In between somewhere the book becomes a little sluggish, but may be it is the subject. He ends the book on a positive note suggesting potential solutions, solutions that have been experimented upon, solutions that are local and not necessarily come from the western world and the potentiality of many more such solution. He is also positive about the facts that our cities have not been modified to an extent that they cannot be saved from the damanges that come with rampant development.
I would like to add something to what the author says in this book. Today we are looking towards technology for every possible solution and in the process we miss out on simple and more humane solutions. For example, on my recent visit to Nalanda in Bihar, which is a huge complex and there is a problem of people using the premises to relieve themselves. It is a problem for the administration, as they have to maintain the heritage site. Now the solution that they have is to install the CCTV, which is going to take away the raw beauty of the place and you would see cables and cameras in the ancient place and it would definitely hamper the experience of a visitor. What the authorities are not thinking of providing proper toilet facilties so that people can use them and not use the premises. Is the toilet facility anyway not a basic requirement for such a huge complex? This would help the visitors and would also keep the complex clean. But the CCTV vendor needs to sell and make money so now you see every government building being installed with them. Technology is taking over our lives and to every problem we need a technology solution, sometimes not because we need it but because the technology company needs to sell. There is a need to look for simple solutions.
I would recommend everyone to read this book.
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