Development, the first thing spring up in our brain after listening to this word is an incremental economy, agglomeration of plenty resource or at least it becomes associated with sheer economic gain. It implies a favorable change, a step from simple to complex, from inferior to superior from worse to better. Since origin, its connotation has changed multiple times. Economic growth, integration of social into development agenda, human-centric development, endogenous development, redevelopment and finally sustainable development- we still termed it as holistic, inclusive or sustainable development.
The 1949 “Truman doctrine” that ventured to transform the underdeveloped world through capital, science and technology has dominated development discourse over decades. Their efforts to lift the underdeveloped country out of poverty by discerning aid had miserably failed as suggested by numerous books and critics. The development debate is now taking a new shape for its affiliation with the environment, society and the people at large. Real prosperity or development of a country can be measured by comparing what she owns with what she owes. In that case, we are lagging far behind as we are paying a high price for so-called development project and soaring budget deficit every year.
Now contrary to this conventional wisdom of development, what a nation’s comprehensive development depends on or what I would say, how can a nation develop in the truest sense? The first UN development decade (1960-1970) established that “The problems of underdevelopment countries is not just growth but development. Development is growth plus change. Change in turn is social and cultural as well as economics and qualitative and quantitative. The key concept must be improved quality of life”. But whether it is development, progress or standard of living all measured in terms of the level of income, substantial resource or consumption. Thereby, it becomes sophisticated to present them in a numerical way which result always remains enigmatic to common people.
Disproving numerous myths, the economy of Bangladesh kept soaring overwhelmingly since independence. But how much did we progress in terms of social indicator and well-being that remains a puzzle? The most popular definition of social development given by James Midgley (1995), he conceives it as a “process of planned social change designed to promote the well-being of the population as a whole in conjunction with a dynamic process of economic development”. Our social evolution has not been as par with economic progress that is indicative in the current crisis of the country. The recent upsurge of successive corruption, social crime, social oppression and scandals of government official and politicians brought despondency and resentment among people. They are condemning rule of law, denouncing the culture of impunity and vilifying incumbent for every mischief. They are to be condemned for their irresponsibility and failure in controlling crime.
But despite graduating from LDC and achieving minimum good governance that we aspire this trend of malfeasance or unethical conduct of public officials is unlikely to decline. Moreover, teacher humiliation, farmer exploitation, soaring corruption and the rampant case of rape incident imply how much we as a society reduced to.
We still draw complacent from the misery of our neighbours and familiar one. Malevolence is the prime character of our nation since ancient time. One can hardly appreciate other’s prosperity in our society. Recently, village conflict over trivial matter has made several headlines in media. People in the rural area maintain group living where one group often cherish misogynist attitudes towards others and lurking to seek revenge anytime in a bloody conflict.
Their psyche is immensely parochial and prejudiced that can barely tolerate others view. To enlighten or develop their shortsightedness to a far-sight one and conform to how the modern world advancing. This parochial attitude extended to every social and political life of people. The transformation or development of this traditional mindset or a national consciousness-raising become an urgent issue today.
The young segments are infatuated with the issues that have little impact on their lives or the future they will step in. They are indifferent to the national issues like budget, policy, politics or foreign affairs and disassociating themselves from national life. Their illusion with muddy politics led them to compromise their basic pursuit of life. Morality is becoming a myth in a society where everyone is lurking to loot public resource or take advantages of the situation. The dearth of moral power leading us towards the verge of destruction in every sector namely education, economic and social life. Developing our moral state along with a tolerance for others can bring a more peaceful tomorrow for us. Individuals appearance, profession or background has little to do with morality. The uplifting of moral standard and ethical behavior and norms should be our first agenda in our national life. Favoritism, cronyism and nepotism have interfered the practice of fairness at all stages of public life, especially in education. The moral bankruptcy of our several educationists has reached an unprecedented height. Now, corruption or fraud of administrative officials no longer stupefy us as nation builders (Teachers) took the role of spoiling the basic foundation of education by unmasking their ugly faces. Moreover, the declining trust in public institutions creating distance between government and mass people.
According to social progress report 2019, Bangladesh scored lowest in terms of Access to advanced education, inclusiveness, Personal Freedom and Choice, Health and Wellness and Environmental Quality. These are the basic issues that are imperative to ensure societal progress and development in the truest sense.
Being a largely homogeneous nation, we still cherish a divisive attitude among us. We need another sweeping reform in every aspect of socio-cultural life to resuscitate old values and practices that safeguard the interest of all. That think twice before committing a heinous crime or violating the inherent rights of others. Promoting justice and equality for all irrespective of their background, party affiliation or personal choice. As economic growth is achieved for the sake of people, the human should be put first before everything and only then social development alias a holistic development can be achieved.
The writer is studying bachelor for social science in institute of social welfare and research at university of Dhaka.