In the name of development
The world has ushered into, what is broadly perceived as, the fourth industrial revolution characterised by a fusion of rapidly changing technologies; advances in artificial intelligence and cross-cultural interaction. Essentially growing out of the digital revolution, which is, nonetheless, considered a new era rather than a continuation of its predecessor, due to the speed of technological explosiveness in its scope, breakthrough and implementation. The contemporary era is increasingly integrated as long-established boundaries receding with acceleration; bringing together economies, societies and cultures from around the world.
Advances in technological development have, undeniably, facilitated all spheres of life from aiding physical well-being to political developments; transportation to communication; sharing cultural values to engaging in international trade and commerce. It affects us all, regardless of where we are placed on the social strata, notwithstanding, whether the impact is direct or indirect. Despite the positive effects on certain demographic segments, it has also had profound negative social consequences. Findings from social research have been deeply engrossed with intricacies to truly capture the nature and extent of the impact. And, thus, whether the impact is, in fact, favourable, remains questionable in the field of social sciences.
It is important to acknowledge that global integration and interdependency is mutually complementing to the human race, in the sense that both continue to evolve. It is a process here to stay irreversible, its absence completely incomprehensible, even by those who may be unintentionally and collaterally affected. Yet, with all its inherent benefits; it also bears certain controversies that need further intellectual scrutiny and debate in the academic and public arena.
Both micro and macro aspects of such transformative times have certain aspects, which are both complicated and challenging. Where it opens doors, it also concurrently closes many others. A situational analysis depicts that the impact, though far-reaching, creates both winners and losers. And this dividing line, which separates the ones who gain from the ones who are at a disadvantage, is far more delicate and permeable than how we may have brought ourselves to conceive it.
The effects of globalisation remain inequitable in their dissemination and marginalisation in practice. The costs might include terrorism, job insecurity, poverty and inequality, the loss of value systems, fractured principles, identity crises, systematic desensitisation, altered perspectives, compromised family life and dismantled communities. The gap seems to be widening between societies, which enjoy knowledge, technology and the right and ability to control events, whilst others remain backward, frustrated and disabled to progress.
Governments and international alliances of developing countries need to reflect on their absorptive capacities before jumping on to the development bandwagon
Such a fundamental shift in our surroundings has given rise to crises of different natures, such as a democratic crisis, which allows 1.3 billion people to live on incomes less than $1 a day; an economic crisis, where 1.5 billion have no access to clean water; leadership crisis permitting the wealth to be concentrated with a handful few; a psychological crisis due to social toxicities around us undermining our abilities to assimilate as well as the spiritual and moral crisis where 40,000 children die every day from hunger and disease as the privileged minority watches on as spectators.
As a response to the problems caused by the current wave of IT revolution, it is the need of the hour to address issues of the underprivileged majority. With the delivery of trainings, the provision of basic life essentials and social policies, implemented in the name of development, still seem to lack key ingredients needed for equitable progress to commence, questioning the credibility of development and ethics of progressivism having, thus, ensued, which appears to be perpetuating injustice and impeding accessibility to basic rights of existence.
Governments and international alliances of developing countries need to reflect on their absorptive capacities before jumping on to the development bandwagon, dictated by a nexus of those who have never been victims of the have-nots. More evidence-based work needs to go into analysing whether globalisation, indeed, drives development and provision for better-structured intervention services for developing countries needs to happen, which is not a threat to their indigenous values and forces them to catch up at the cost of their local capacities. There is an urgent need for forecasting the consequences of development, which need investment in evidence-based, technical and interdisciplinary understanding with the neutrality of all dimensions of global advancement, which remains partial and ignorant of respect for all humanity. The pursuit of equitable administration of development needs to be advocated before global forces create further social inequalities causing individual suffering and a collective functional paralysis.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.