Governance or the exercise of the Rule of Law is an imperative of human politico-administrative history as well as lineage. Politically organized men have nearly always been preoccupied with Governance and administrative order to build a just and humane society. Governance (or even “intended” Governance) - therefore - is somewhat identical to justice as a primary human (or else civil societal) concern. The efficacy of human institutions is usually measured in terms of Governance ie whether these agencies of formalized / institutionalized interaction have been able to perform in a utilitarian manner by cohering a rational societal and political order.
This paper interrogates the modalities and probabilities of reconciling India’s dynamic (?) strategies of sustainable Governance with the Country’s new avatar as an evolving actor in the global market. Can the Indian State effectively play this Janus role, coordinating its organic hegemony with an uneasy decentralization / devolution of politico-administrative power and resources? This happens to be the central inquiry that conjoins Globalization and Governance in the problematique of this paper.
Governance is the manner in which rightful (legitimate) authority is wielded in a State. So the reality of Governance is part of the reality of everyday Statecraft while the relevance and impact of Governance are coterminous with that of everyday politics. Governance - therefore - relates to a specialized exercise in the management of State affairs, namely ruling capabilities.
Moreover, a State has governability if its obtained level of Governance is high. Ruling capacities - it is to be appreciated at this juncture - are really a matter of degree. A political system can also be described as being governable and legitimate if its management of internal affairs is in tune with the Rule of Law. So rule-bounded activities imply Governance. (Constitutional) Laws in this context imply both laid down rules and ethical principles.
The issue of Governance assumes especial importance whenever a parliamentary post-colonial liberal democracy like India is concerned just because such a political system indicates a dialogic concern between the State Apparatuses (Governance) and a creative / evolving civil society (governability).
So it is obvious that Democratic Governance ideally tries to crate and sustain organic institutions that (in their symbiotic turn) try to institutionalize a political culture of popular rule and trust. Networks of trust, cooperation and coordination can not only facilitate social values related to Good Governance (characterized by accountability, transparency and rule-bounded behavior among other dynamics) but can also promote real life cost-benefit equations in a favorable manner. A certain scale of cost-benefit analysis can - therefore - gauge the levels of Governance that (in the legal-rational sense) is particularly all about the cost-benefit analyses of policy formulation and subsequent implementation. However, such exercises may be effective or otherwise.
So the concept of legitimacy happens to be a recurrent concern while discussing the notion of Governance. The process of rule ought to be perceived both as the proper as well as the due passage of an authority that is lawful. The “success” of any administration lies in the fact that it has the capacity to perform in the interests of its given clientele and that its impact and incidence are both extensive and intensive in nature.
Any democratic polity (in order to ensure Good Governance for its citizens) should ideally discontinue any excessive regimentation in society, providing citizens with a civil societal space called the Public Sphere. This pluralist civic space is necessarily created away from and even beyond the State in order to objectively address the State-civil society dialogue. The Public Sphere can also provide enduring solutions for Governance, as it is an ensemble of interactions that can (and actually do) help entrench the dominant ethos and culture root paradigms of any given society.
GLOBALIZATION AND GOVERNANCE
The contemporary States system informed by Globalization is like Janus: the State has (generally speaking) a robust face in the developed North but an almost impotent face in the developing or underdeveloped South. So Globalization necessitates a dialog between the rich and the poor outside its essentialist assumptions of an uneven power discourse as conditions of Good Governance and Structural Adjustment Programs benchmark most Third World postcolonial democracies today.
While there are contentions that aggressive market forces make it difficult for welfarist governments to protect their citizens from transnational actors that are as elusive as their hot money, there are also counter-arguments that institutions like the International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organization actually safeguard citizens from the administrative limitations of their respective national governments. There appears to be a consensus, however, that powerful markets tend to undermine political élites at home. But does this also suggest that national governments have been so thoroughly undermined today that the Global Village can eventually replace the State?
It has also been pointed out that if Globalization, on the one hand, facilitates decentralization then, on the other, it also helps develop pockets of dynamic Free Trade Areas in large developing countries like China and India by reorganizing their economic geography, Foreign Direct Investment and global commodity chains. This process, however, creates large hinterlands of economic backwardness and entrenches economic inequality within the developing South.
Globalization, therefore, intensifies regional disparities in the Third World. Scholars have found that Structural Adjustment Programs have varied widely in the results they have yielded. While Latin America has partially benefited from structural adjustment, Africa has not. It has also been argued that Rolling Back the State ie less government (as an imperative of contemporary Globalization) does not always lead to enhanced economic growth.
Globalization is apparently an open-ended journey toward a globalized world order whose weightless economy may be described as one that defies both national and international borders so far as economic transactions are concerned. This is a situation where freight charges are nil and trade / tariff barriers would disappear.
Such a pilgrim’s progress, however, is nothing new. Technological innovations during the past five centuries have steadily helped integrate the global community into an emergent global civil society. Transatlantic communications have developed from sailing boats to steamships, to the telegraph, the telephone, the commercial aircraft and now the Internet where even nationalism as a conventional political ideology has been reduced to “banal nationalism”.
But States, meanwhile, have not ostensibly lost their importance and, on the contrary, even Third World governments’ capacities to tax and redistribute incomes, control their domestic economies and hegemonize civil societal activities have expanded in a significant manner.
However, the present-day transition of State efficacy - from welfare to Good Governance - has to be explained in terms of a paradigm shift that can even lead to deinstitutionalization of State apparatuses in postcolonial democracies as the conventional manner of looking at the welfarist State as a sponsor of nation building is subverted in the process
Globalization entails another paradox: it requires Good Governance underpinned by Structural Adjustment Programs that can, however, erode the popular bases of democratic Governance and lead to collapse of entire régimes. So Globalization would increasingly come across as the transition of world capitalism from one stage to another, safeguarding investments of global capital in this process.
Available evidence, as mentioned earlier, suggests that average incomes have increased while the income gap between rich and poor countries has also widened. Both trends have been evident for more than 200 years: it is only now, however, that improved global communications have resulted in a growing awareness among citizens of poor countries of income inequalities, and compelled them to increasingly immigrate to rich countries. Rich countries, consequently, have been provoked to pass laws that discourage mass immigration.
This, however, tends to reduce the global economy to an exclusivist power arrangement that also draws on McDonaldization / Coca-Colonization (or cultural homogenization) indicated largely by the one-way-traffic (ie infiltration and withdrawal of global capital into the Third World at will but not likewise when infiltration of Third World labor into the North is concerned).
Rich countries steadfastly maintain their immigration barriers and discourage agricultural imports while most poor countries have not been quite successful to attract much Foreign Direct Investment due to misgovernance on the part of their national governments. Rich countries, however, may as well concede that politics is a fundamental informant of economic inequality since they are not likely to lower their agricultural and immigration barriers in the near future in order to facilitate protectionism at home.
Rich countries may also review the performance of the Washington Consensus, which assumes that free markets necessarily promote economic convergence and underscores important issues (like the rule of law, property rights and transparent banking systems) to sustain dialogs between the North and the South.
Rich countries may also on occasion encourage poor countries to Think Globally, Act Locally ie design glocal (rather than global) development strategies that would be locally grounded within the larger context of Globalization.
Globalization has occasionally been regarded as a solution to problems like underdevelopment, malnutrition and violation of human rights, and important human rights institutions have been set up and incorporated into the global human rights régime. Governments are finding it increasingly difficult to violate their citizens’ human rights without attracting the attention of the media and international organizations as a result of developed telecommunications and global interdependence. Indeed, overall human rights practices have improved worldwide during the last decade or so. However, this improvement has neither been universal nor linear.
Globalization ie the growing interpenetration of States, markets, telecommunications and ideas across borders is one of the major informants of the contemporary world order. International agencies for the protection of human rights are now more developed while an emergent global civil society facilitates avenues of appeal for citizens repressed by their own States. But assaults on fundamental human dignity continue, and the very obliteration of borders and promotion of transnational actors that had originally sponsored the global human rights régime may also generate newer sources of human rights abuse.
Even as they are more widely propagated and accepted, the rights of individuals have come to depend increasingly on an entire range of actors and forces - from the multinationals to the missionaries! What are the patterns of the human rights impact of Globalization? Are new problems replacing, intensifying or mitigating State-sponsored repression? How effective are new forms of human rights accountability? Can new global human rights problems be addressed by the global human rights institutions developed to combat State abuses?
Are certain dynamics of Globalization generating both problems and prospects? How can new opportunities be used to offset new problems? The emergence of the global human rights régime, growing transnational social movement networks, increasing consciousness and information politics have the potential to address both traditional and emerging forms of human rights violations.
The United Nations has supervised human rights reform in El Salvador, Cambodia and Haiti while creating a new High Commissioner for Human Rights. The first international tribunals since Nuremberg are prosecuting genocide in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Transnational legal accountability and humanitarian intervention promote universal norms and link them to the enforcement power of States. Thousands of non-governmental organizations monitor and lobby for human rights from Tibet to East Timor.
Alongside important exponents like the Amnesty International, Globalization has generated new forms of advocacy such as transnational professional networks (PEN, Doctors Across Borders etc), global groups for conflict monitoring as well as coalitions across transnational issues. New forms of communication allow victims to videotape their plight, advocates to flood governments with fax messages and Web sites to mobilize urgent action alerts. But the efficacy of global awareness and pressure on the States, paramilitaries and insurgents responsible for traditional human rights violations varies considerably.
Moreover, access to the new global mechanisms is distributed unevenly so that certain worst-hit victims like the illiterate rural poor or the women refugees are the least likely to receive global as well as domestic redress. Beyond this interaction of new solutions with old problems, new human rights problems may result from the integration of markets, the shrinking of States, increased transnational flows, the spread of cultures of intolerance and the decision-making processes of new or emergent global institutions.
For instance, the increasing presence of multinational corporations has challenged labor rights throughout Southeast Asia and along the Mexican border. Increasing migration worldwide expose growing numbers of refugees and undocumented laborers vulnerable to different forms of abuse by sending and receiving States. International economic adjustment and the expansion of sex tourism are linked to a rise in prostitution and trafficking in women and children, affecting millions in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the post-Soviet States.
The Internet that empowers human rights activists on the one hand also happens to facilitate governmental repression on the other, and even instructs neo-Nazis to post transnational death sentences against their dissenters. Unelected global institutions like the World Bank, international peacekeepers or environmental NGOs administering protected areas increasingly control the lives of the most powerless citizens of weak States.
The idea of human freedom is essentially rooted in the concept of human development, according to Noble Laureate Professor Amartya Sen’s “Development as Freedom” thesis (that outlines an entitlement to capacity-building process). And the idea of human progress is a construct that is designed around the axis of freedom. What is freedom? Is it only lack of societal constraint, withdrawal of discipline and punish, willing suspension of the panoptic Super Ego that they address as the “mainstream”? Or is freedom a concept much more fundamental, to be read into the texts of Rabindranath Tagore, Roman Rolland or even Walden?
Sociologists claim that civilization is what we are and culture is merely an arrangement of artifacts that we happen to use during the course of our politics in everyday life. But then civilization is also a system of values that is handed down generations as a movement of socialization that laymen identify as “progress”.
STATE AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Liberal democratic régimes like India or even the United States can only be politically successful, deliver the common good and thereby continue in power in a more stable (read pro-people) manner if they are able to correctly read the obtainable ground realities and problems thereof. These problems are more or less popular in nature, and have a propensity to develop into discontent of the ruled actors against their ruling institutions. So the actors in power have to continuously shuffle and delicately balance priorities of human development, well-being and accessible freedoms like the ever-important agenda of human rights and civil liberties, a responsive and responsible administrative machinery, transparency at all levels of public expenditures and domestic and international peacekeeping projects rather than playing mutually harmful “spy versus spy” games.
PROGRESS VERSUS DEVELOPMENT
But how can progress be distinguished from “development”, if at all? A most prominent item on today’s humanitarian global agenda, apart from mantras like good Governance, social capital, neo-liberal communitarianism, grassroots empowerment, civil societal capacity-building and gender sensitization, is certainly the notion of sustainable development. This has become almost a catchword of sorts in the Third World, decolonized State nations that are more or less grappling to muster a political system around pluralistic identities of nationhood enmeshed in ethnicity, language, religion, region and mutual distrust. It is almost as if “softy States” are hanging loose and can only be brought back on to the fast track of development by way of external intervention and advocacy on the past of the Eurocentric West.
Development, it may be appreciated at this point, is not anything extrinsic like politics imposed from the above without any regard whatsoever to the end-users of limited political resources. Actors who are supposed to interface with their very own institutions are nearly always better comfortable if left alone with the material conditions of daily life that breed organic ethos of community existence. This is where the colonial masters went wrong in Asia, Africa and South America when they bled the colonies white and left behind a legacy of comprador bourgeois and crony capitalism that, in turn, fostered a repressive State apparatus and a perverted anti-people bureaucratic managerial State system that was not only anti-people but was also occasionally anti-progress.
What Richard Cobden implies by “Cabinets or Foreign Offices” is actually this mechanistic attitude of the political elite (in capitalist systems) and party leadership (in socialist societies) that are smug in the cocoon of their mistaken convictions that people at the top echelons of power, authority and influence have necessarily a working knowledge of “the greatest good of the greatest number”.
This is not a utilitarian or even a welfarist State approach - it is actually self-defeating as amply evidenced in the erstwhile USSR where an insane arms and space race with the United States (incidentally the only country in the entire world to have actually materially gained from the First and Second World Wars with minimum military casualties) led the once powerful communist country to a more or less incredible situation of mind-boggling bankruptcy.
Military hardware and nukes were being manufactured at the cost of basic consumer requirements like bread, potatoes and vodka, following Stalin’s rhetoric of an entire generation making sacrifices (read being purged if found to be politically incorrect) for the cause of a better Russia of the future. Moscow’s huge and sprawling department store GUM was always nearly empty while the party’s top brass were running around in their imported limousines, shopping in dollar shops selling Swiss chocolates and watches, Scotch whisky, French champagne and perfumes. Add rampant corruption and repression to accept a second-hand political ideology not originating from the ground realities of people and you have ideal recipes for killing fields like the infamous Prague Spring.
PUBLIC ACTION ENTERPRISES
We are reminded of Professor Mohammad Yunus of Bangladesh in this respect - the magician of the Grameen Bank (“rural bank”) microcredit revolution who even hugely impressed Hilary Rodham Clinton. What Professor Yunus still does is amazingly simple - he organizes self-help groups in the manner of cooperatives and tries to make them economically self-reliant in areas as humble as poultry, weaving, dairy and even small-scale production. But when such cottage industries are linked (“forward and backward integration”) in the larger context of market forces they become formidable in their control of the overall agrarian and even the urban economy. Peasant women in Bangladesh carry mobile telephones to communicate with distant markets, distributors and dealers! This may sound incredible but it is true nevertheless, proving the validity of Cobden’s observation.
Operation Flood in Anand (Gujarat, India) and the Lijjat and Kissan enterprises are other such brilliant instances of people working toward their common good (based on innovative techniques like outsourcing of manpower and material resources, subcontracting or leasing of plant and machinery, breaking down the production process to delimit financial risk liability ventures somewhat akin to Adam Smith’s exposition of the division of labor dynamics) without any outside intervention whatsoever. One must remember that neither India nor Bangladesh tends to practice authoritarian régime maintenance. What was possible once in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square when the People’s Liberation Army crushed pro-reform students under tanks and armored carriers is unimaginable in either India or Bangladesh (that secured its liberation in 1971 by way of Indian military cooperation). So democracy is an essential requirement if “the progress of freedom” is to continue unabated.
By democracy we ordinarily mean popular authority or rule. As made popular by Jean Jacques Rousseau, one of the ideologues of the French Revolution (that effectively altered the course of European history by beginning the disintegration process of the medieval and feudalistic Age of Empires), the voice of God is heard in the voice of the People.
This was a far cry from the autocratic self-styled pronouncement of French Emperor Louis XIV - “I am the State”. It was no wonder that Louis XVI’s wife Marie Antoinette (later sentenced to die to rather unceremoniously at the guillotine) had once expressed her wonder in such a naive fashion on hearing about the simmering discontent among the Parisian mob standing in endless queues or bread lines and more often than not starting violent riots among themselves - “If they cannot eat bread why don’t they eat cake!”
This vulgar ignorance of the ruled on the part of their rulers is rather inimical to democracy. But we must remember that democracy as dynamic capacity-building agency in the post 9/11 world has all of a sudden underscored its long-ignored extrinsic quality. Democracy is not really insular, stretching from the East Coast to the West Coast of the US. If the notion of external sovereignty has suffered quite extensively since the height of the Cold War when the world was almost vertically divided into the NATO and Warsaw Pact countries (save the NAM States being led by Nehru, Nasser and Tito), the idea of external democracy has gained much popular and diplomatic acceptance.
Simply put, powerful nations can no longer ignore internal human rights or civil rights agendas vis-à-vis world public opinion. But this is what the US is consistently trying to follow as its most shortsighted foreign policy since the Malta Summit Conference when President George Bush Senior and CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev officially declared the end of the Cold War, a historic event that even prompted Francis Fukuyama to write a banal work on the end of history and the last man.
Since the days of its Nineteenth Century isolationist Munroe Doctrine the US has put up apparently impregnable walls around itself that couldn’t even be dismantled during the Marshall Plan for the Reconstruction of Europe after the Second World War or establishment of first the League of Nations (as an initiative of President Woodrow Wilson’s historic Atlantic Charter) and then the UNO, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and now the omnipotent World Trade Organization that apparently dictates the movements of a new specter of the new millennium, namely Globalization.
The US foreign policy has always been designed on lines of “muddle and meddle” - Vietnam, Korea, Bay of Pigs, Iran Contra scandal, Afghanistan and now Iraq. The country boasts of democracy and swears by it, boiling with righteous motivation to export Yankee democracy around the underdeveloped world, but has, however, classified the JFK assassination archives for no apparent reason whatsoever.
Clandestine covert operations, the strategic defense initiative (Star Wars), research in biological and chemical weapons - you name it and you would find the dirty trick invariably up America’s (read the CIA and FBI’s) sleeves. In fact, it is the only nation to date that has used atomic weapons during a war, destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the process to avenge the Pearl Harbor attack and crippling generations of Japanese children long after the holocaust as a result of toxic radioactive radiation carried forward genetically by succeeding generations.
Since the Gulf War fought by Senior Bush as the much-hyped Operation Desert Storm so graphically shown by CNN across millions of idiot boxes around the world, nobody knows exactly how many innocent Iraqi children have died from malnutrition, disease and hunger due to the US-imposed and UNO-condoned sanctions against Iraq.
The US condemns Osama bin Laden but should actively engage in soul-searching regarding its own virulent international terrorist status in our contemporary unipolar world where might is right in a Hobbesian State of affairs where human life, property and security are all indeed “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, short”. The US, in brief, should radically reorient its foreign policy to address the dignity of human life and internal sovereignty of nation States around the world.
However, the political élites of rich countries may even find it occasionally convenient to overlook their own immigration and tariff barriers since such barriers are considered absolutely vital to their own domestic political stability. The amount of clout rich countries command at multilateral platforms like the International Monetary Fund or the WTO more often than not makes it difficult for developing countries to successfully negotiate such barriers.
The State located within the contemporary post-capitalist / post-industrial Globalization discourse is yet to wither away – we may regard it (among its different avatars) as an important facilitator in the uneven, if not multicultural, North-South dialog. We may even also regard it as an actor that would continue to engage its civil societies and the Public Sphere vis-à-vis critical debates such as Good Governance, Structural Adjustment Programs and social capital formation or otherwise.
However, the liberal democratic State may become even more repressive and organized during the course of future Globalization in order to address increasing popular discontent and public disorder that would follow any roll-back of its welfarist arrangements and civil societal concerns.
The popular understanding of Social Capital as an embedded civil societal resource supported by networks of trust and cooperation should be analytically conceptualized here in order to locate the altogether intriguing notion of development ethics in its proper intellectual discourse. Social Capital is more often than not underpinned by manufactured consent that in itself is conditioned by parallel movements of power and culture. What is trust and how can the intangible value of trust be defined by cooperation and multiple axes of social synergy that is cohered by an equally unquantifiable category called enlightened self-interest that is variously known as faith?
The comparative value of trust when measured against infidelity may be quantified in order to understand why people sustain a working stock of Social Capital at the marketplace, in politics, public offices and the government or elsewhere where interactions and institutions come together to define various interfaces of public discourse.
To disown my neighbor in his / her hour of need or crisis may not be quite a wise policy when located in a broader temporal perspective. But the problem with rational consumers interacting at the level of the marketplace of politics is that they are not always endowed with the gift of foresight (that in itself is an asset conditioned occasionally by experience i.e. acquired social knowledge.
Why is the notion of Social Capital at all relevant in our community life? Is this because it is a useful and practical idea that is mutually beneficial in utilitarian terms? You would benefit if I am truthful while I would gain if you are honest. We can translate and extend this notion into areas of Good Governance such as accountability and transparency. The social structure as a whole has a developmental stake rooted in the intangible yet immensely valuable resource of Social Capital. This argument is substantiated in the case of Development Ethics.
Popular institutions serve as indices to assess the quality of grassroots activism. Such institutions, moreover, have a proclivity to become somewhat indispensable as their networks expand and become increasingly detailed in terms of organization; their levels of encompassment and embeddedness in the everyday politics at the grassroots rise accordingly. The role of social trust and networks of cooperation in the context of such decentralized governance is rather vital. Trust leads to social bonds and intra- as well as inter-institutional connectedness. Trust sustains institutions.
For what are institutions but formal agencies and domains of human interaction? And is not the problem of governance really a problem of interaction in its primary sense, a problem of interface involving both the state and its civil society/societies? If rules are the accepted [and expected modes] of behaviour, then institutions are the facilitating channels that help socialize such behaviour. Neonstitutionalism - in order to understand this baffling phenomenon of good governance - deals with actors and institutions as well as actors in institutions. Governance derives from an able handling of institutions.
Actors who function through institutions tend to make a lot of difference as to how such institutions perform. The kind of legitimacy and politics of ecology that we have in mind here would ideally emerge from real life, indigenous knowledge and intimate culture root paradigms of everyday life. We cannot deny the fact that institutions are necessary. But what are social institutions other than interactive arrangements of power that are best evolved indigenously?
This neoinstitutional argument is also supported by rational choice analysis that suggests that any democratic régime would legitimately prefer entrenchment[s] of its own power and authority rather than problems of governance. This, however, prompts an essential cost-benefit analysis ie what magnitude of political investment to establish pro-people, responsive institutions at the grassroots would yield good governance?
The issue of human values conjoined to the discourses of development is more often than not predicated by the choices and priorities of infrastructure augmentation and enhancement of physical assets for a public purpose. The priorities of ethical choices applied to the sanctity of human development emerges as a critical policy imperative in the larger context of moral emancipation.
This leads us to the larger and more problematic question of human rights when considered from the angle of civil societal liberties. How ethical can development ultimately become when analyzed in the light of assumptions informed by hegemony and the power/knowledge discourse. Development often appears to be a panoptican construct that is cohered by a gaze that is transnational and transcommunal in its scope and purpose.
People are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. The international community has therefore pledged to eradicate poverty, to promote full and productive employment, and to foster social integration to achieve stable, safe and just societies for all. The rights-based definition of development in the Declaration on the Right to Development sees it as a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process.
A rights-based approach to development is a conceptual framework for the process of human development that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights. There is no single, universally agreed rights-based approach, although there may be an emerging consensus on the basic constituent elements.
While it has recently received unprecedented attention, the idea of rights-based approaches is not a new concept. Many of its elements have been tried and tested for years. Rights-based approaches bring the promise of more effective, more sustainable, more rational and more genuine development processes.
The architecture of dominant knowledge and the specificity of its impacts should be interpreted in a spatio-temporal manner that is conducive with the tenets of practical reason. But the most uncomfortable question remains: what is the cost of ethical development that takes into account angularities of politics and considers the dynamics of progress judged by objective parameters? This is a most difficult proposition that is underpinned by the politics of definitions and the multiplicity of identities.
Sustainable development can never emerge as a value-free project that is not conditioned by the microphysics of power or even the archaeology of knowledge. The semantic of learning is an ontologic exercise that cannot be unduly coerced by the versatility of multicultural complexities or pluralist politics.
We have to appreciate the fact that the overall dynamic of ethical definitions cannot be undermined irrespective of whatever value connotations development may subsume at different stages of infrastructure augmentation projects that happen to impact different categories of stakeholders in variant magnitudes and qualities.
The concept of public sphere is especially important in this respect. According to Habermas, the public sphere is "a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed. Access is guaranteed to all citizens. A portion of the public sphere comes into being in every conversation in which private individuals assemble to form a public body". A rhetorical theory of the public sphere emphasizes that "sphere" is a metaphor.
The public does not exist prior to the conversations that bring it into being. Its shape, boundaries and agents are all the products of discourse, although not divorced from their material aspect as well. A concept in continental philosophy and critical theory, the public sphere contrasts with the private sphere, and is the part of life in which one is interacting with others and with society at large. Much of the thought about the public sphere relates to the concept of identity and identity politics.
POVERTY AND PROSPERITY
Redefining entitlements is a process that intrinsically challenges predominant assumptions in the context of growing pressure of population and fragmentation of urban resources. New material conditions of life are redefined and differently molded in this process. Lesser payoffs in terms of minimum tangible benefits to primary stakeholders may take place as a direct spin-off of the multipliers of poverty reduction programs. This is somewhat similar to the diminishing marginal utilities of consumption and over-utilization of resources that finally lead to satiety.
Poverty alleviation initiatives and income generation measures may lead to gender empowerment for a certain section of the community. This may or may not lead to formation or facilitation or even enhancement of the available stock of social capital so far as the target groups among the community are concerned.
New culture root paradigms may get entrenched in this critical process as functions of new societal arrangements and perceived specifics of realigned identities and different matrices of power. Such may be the case when new local markets are sought to be explored in the face of established global markets.
Such a state of affairs would require new institutional networks that may work in a milieu of change management predicated by development alternatives. This necessitates a new regime of discourse where the terms beget different signifiers and alternating signifieds. Voices and choices of the people would become confused otherwise in a cacophony generated by the multitude or the Tower of Babel of policy alternatives. Such an overwhelming otherness would provoke dystopic and dysfunctional social pathologies that would be without any incipient tenets of hospitality whatsoever.
Systemic compulsions of the new international economic order ushered in by the World Trade Organization and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff may be viewed as in-built disruptions that only add background noise to disturb channels of communication between the market and the consumer who is prepared to utilize significant and limited resources in order to access utilities.
Depleted capacities of primary stakeholders occur as a result of the systemic imperatives of globalization. The government schemes that we have discussed in this paper may sound workable in theory but are more often than not viable in reality due to this fact.
Populism is another disabling factor that plagues liberal democracies such as the Indian political system. We come across policy decisions that are not commercially tenable in the market but are implemented nevertheless due to the compulsions of so-called pro-people and pro-poor politics.
Local actors may be able to reorient a new brand of politics in their favor by manipulating primary resources available at the grassroots. But we have to deal with local as well as macro-level politics simultaneously in order to coordinate between the compulsions of subalternist and elitist power approaches.
This communitarian approach to social realities may ultimately serve to restore the community at the center of our developmental focus but at a significant cost. This cost is the one incurred during informed exercises pertaining to social choice. So it appears that the incidence of poverty and the eradication of poverty are often to be studied in a context of change management as conceived by the above model. It is a fact that urban poverty is generally a reflection of existing political equations that are available at the level of microphysics of power.
Obtainable social realities would suggest that poverty becomes institutionalized as a phenomenon in the interest of powerful social actors who are able to obtain the maximum mileage out of the sense of relative deprivation that afflicts civil society. Poverty is also a function of social asymmetry. Inflation and stagnation of the currency may adversely affect the population in uneven ways.
This is due to the fact that social clusters are located along the economic hierarchy in different degrees of embeddedness. Public action and civic engagement in an enabling environment may or may not entrench channels of cooperation among primary stakeholders. Such vertical divisions among society are caused by differing axes of participation and priorities conditioned by dynamic variable such as knowledge, attitude and perceptions.
PERSONAL VS. POLITICAL
May we shift our stance somewhat to reflect that development may not always lead to freedom? Basic human rights [if guaranteed by the state apparatuses] may lead to capacities on the part of citizens. But what about capacities that do not sell at the globalized marketplace? If globalization, on the one hand, facilitates decentralization then, on the other, it also helps develop pockets of dynamic Free Trade Areas in large developing countries like China and India by reorganizing their economic geography, Foreign Direct Investments and global commodity chains.
This process, however, creates large hinterlands of economic backwardness and entrenches economic inequality within the developing South. Globalization, therefore, intensifies regional disparities in the Third World. The so-called Internet Revolution is indicative of the hegemonistic battles waged on a daily basis around the world with reference to critical discourses of production, consumption, distribution and exchange. The World Wide Web was originally designed as a virtual space to permit efficacious and intuitive transfer of data across an array of proprietary networks.
Development, it may be appreciated at this point, is not anything extrinsic like politics imposed from the above without any regard whatsoever to the end-users of limited political resources. Actors who are supposed to interface with their very own institutions are nearly always better comfortable if left alone with the material conditions of daily life that breed organic ethos of community existence. This is where the colonial masters went wrong in Asia, Africa and South America when they bled the colonies white and left behind a legacy of comprador bourgeois and crony capitalism that, in turn, fostered a repressive state apparatus and a perverted anti-people bureaucratic managerial state system that was not only anti-people but was also occasionally anti-progress.
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*Assistant Professor / Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management [Iiswbm] Kolkata, West Bengal, India