Essays in Social and Economic Development

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Book Review

Essays in Social and Economic Development (Paul Streeten), Centre for Indian Development Studies in association with New Century Publications, New Delhi, 2010, ISBN: 978-81-7708-232-6, pp. 371, Rs. 1485.

Paul Streeten is a well-known development economist and a social thinker. He is a prolific writer and his writings over the last 50 years have covered diverse areas of social and economic development. His deep interest in social and economic development is manifest in his holding challenging assignments in the world organizations such as consultant to the UNDP on the Human Development Report and to UNESCO on the World Culture Reports. He has been visiting different developing economies, studying their growth problems and preparing blueprints of their development plans. His recent research has been on globalization, international interdependence, foreign investment, aid, trade, international cooperation, basic needs, poverty, sustainable human development, food and hunger, culture and development and social capital. His other areas of interest include regional development, the problems of small countries and islands, technology, education, the environment, political economy, the role of markets and states, methodology in social sciences and interdisciplinary studies. His writings have assumed added significance in the context of liberalization, privatization and globalization wave sweeping across the countries of the world, particularly the developing countries. In the present context, his ideas are relevant to understand and deal with the global financial crisis, which hit the economies of the US and other advanced countries in 2007.

The present volume contains 17 scholarly papers authored by Paul Streeten. These papers cover a wide range of issues and concerns which have contemporary relevance for social and economic development of countries all over the world and the empowerment and participation of disadvantaged groups in different countries, more so in the less developed economies of the world.

In the paper titled Meaning and Measurement of Development, the author has touched upon the various dimensions of development process. He argues that human development is the end and the tributaries are the means which can also acquire end characteristics themselves. According to him, contributing tributaries to human development can be grouped under five headings: (1) economic growth; (2) human resource development; (3) human rights and participation; (4) peace and security; and (5) sustainability. He considers human indicators as less misleading than income per head and cites several reasons for the same. He also delves on gender issues which he considers particularly important for reproductive freedom, for the people, especially women, to be able to choose the size of their families.

The paper on International Co-operation and Global Justice, deals with the possibility of the provision of public goods by international community through international cooperation. The author stresses upon the need for global central bank, global income tax, global body to provide information on investments, an international investment trust, and a global migration agency. He also suggests a transnational secretariat and a council of wise men and women to monitor the performance of proposed bodies.

In the paper on Empowerment, Participation and the Poor, the author emphasizes participatory approach to tackle the problem of poverty. He explains the significant role which decentralized democratic institutions can play in tandem with the public sector. He lays stress on the empowerment and participation of the poor to fight against poverty. According to the author, the concept of poverty varies across climates, cultures and social and economic environments. Thus, the notion of poverty in the US is markedly different from poverty in Bangladesh.

The paper on Poverty: A Dance of the Seven Veils explains the causes of absolute and relative poverty. …