Saturday, October 27, 2012
Evaluating Progress and Development
The subject of evaluating progress and development has been debated and examined by scholars and political leaders for decades, since the third world began to embark on planned development. The measures and indicators used kept expanding and changing while the developed countries themselves began to feel that some of the measures they used had become absolute or irrelevant. Using the economic indicators alone such as setting a poverty line based on income and utilizing the food consumption index to indicate the existence of poverty, might show that poverty exists even in the developed countries.
Development and progress in society must be reflected through many other measures beside the economic indicators. Even the poor living in an environment with well-developed public services, excellent infrastructural facilities, cheap and efficient public transportation system, plenty of food available at very reasonable prices, can live in comfort. At the other extreme in a developing country where public services are not too dependable, infrastructural facilities are at a minimum, transportation is difficult and food is very costly, even people in the medium income bracket may find life to be very difficult and demanding. The standard of living achieved could be much lower than that enjoyed by the so=called poor in the more developed countries.
So, while the economy is doing well and income had improved so much with a corresponding improvement in the standard of living, the poorer people (poorer as compared to the rich businessmen and political leaders) may not be that happy. Development and progress could be at a standstill for them, being unable to catch up with the rise in the cost of living.The evaluation of development and progress must take into consideration what the social scientists called "citizenship outcome" which include the evaluation of political alienation or support, participation in the public and economic transformation programs (is the common man outside the party circle really involved?), is the attitude of the public in tendem with the immediate goals of government, is the value-nexus of the population changing as desired by the government etc.
The irony is that the economic development of the country could be healthy but the attitude of the common man towards government policies may not though all the financial assistance given are welcomed. The situation is made worse when the billions and millions of ringgit spent on development are seen to enrich the already wealthy more than the poor and the average citizen working hard for a living.