Opening a Dialogue
Published by the International Development Research Centre
PO Box 8500, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1G 3H9
IDRC, Ottawa, ON CA
Culture, spirituality, and economic development: opening a dialogue.
Ottawa, ON, IDRC, 1995. 80 p.
/Economic development/, /value systems/, /religion/, /developing
countries/ — /ethics/, /cultural values/, /religious practice/, /social norms/,
/development research/, /interviews/, references.
UDC: 330.341:17 ISBN: 0-88936-782-5
A microfiche edition is available.
Material contained in this report is produced as submitted to IDRC Books.
Unless otherwise stated, copyright for material in this report is held by the
authors. Mention of a proprietary name does not constitute endorsement of
the product and is given only for information.
Interviews with IDRC Staff Members
General Assumptions: Breaching Tradition
An IDRC – Jesuit Project
Gathering the Data
Obstacles to a Working Development Process
Positive Resources among Spiritual Values and Systems
Summary of Major Findings
The Current Situation
An Alternate Perspective
NGOs – Social Mechanism of the Future?
Human Development and Nature – Finding a Balance
New Concepts for the Future
Open to Nonconventional Intervention
Pioneer Interventions that Embody Spiritual
Values and Systems Assumptions
Building up NGO Research Capacity
Without a Vision, People Die
The Global Free-Market Model Revisited
New Evidence of Spirituality in Traditionally Secular Areas
Appendix: Persons Interviewed
About the Author
During IDRC’s first 25 years, development theorizing has progressed beyond economic parameters based on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita growth and even the conventional social indicators of literacy, life expectancy, and caloric intake for measuring development. Interventionist frameworks now regularly include such dimensions as sustainable environmental practices, gender equity, respect for human rights, and participatory governance.
Too often, however, these are dealt with as overlays, add-ons to a core notion based on change in material well-being. A certain level of material well-being is, of course, necessary for human development. To take material inputs as the point of departure for external intervention, however, is to adopt from the outset a unidimensional perspective of humanness which will in turn distort one’s notion of development. To take into account the multiple dimensions of development, recent literature is using a different, more comprehensive, and/or subjective language. Within IDRC, it has been suggested that development is “change that improves the conditions of human well-being so that people can exercise meaningful choices for their own benefit and that of society.”
This is an attractive definition, in that it enables one to recognize both North and South as “developing countries”, not limiting the conditions of human well-being or choices to the conventional economic or social ones. Moreover, it highlights the links between individual and societal decisions for change.
As the words “Third World,” “North,” and “South” cease to make much sense geopolitically, and as “developed” and “developing” make less and less sense geo-economically, industrialized countries like Canada must rethink their identities in relation to other parts of the world. The environmental crises of global warming, ozone depletion, ocean pollution, and species extinction are effective reminders for people and countries – North and South – of the extent of our interdependence and of just how integrated our response must be to global challenges. Nor is it just the environment that reminds the North of how much it shares with the South: the uncontrollable growth of megacities, illiteracy, poverty, AIDS, unemployment, delinquency and aggressive nationalism, to name just a few concerns, are increasingly being approached, even in the popular press, as common, global problems.
To the extent that we cease dismissing or caricaturing the South as developing and ourselves as developed, we will be able to get on with working out together mutually beneficial approaches to the processes of change that we must face together as a global community. We will also be able to recognize the changes and choices that are required in our own economic and lifestyle patterns in order to complement those that are required in the South.
The contemporary Western outlook on reality can be loosely characterized as rationalist, secular, scientistic, and quantitative, what some writers have called “the Enlightenment model.” These characteristics have their strengths: they have been instrumental in bringing most of the West to levels of economic, social, technological, and physical well-being that were unimaginable a few generations ago. Unchecked, however, they have also bred frightening levels of individualism, materialism, conspicuous consumption, and social alienation.
This same outlook has led mainstream development discourse to focus on the economic, social, and political conditions that need to be changed, and to try to ascribe quantifiable indicators for the changes. The institutions that define “development” are for the most part large donor agencies that, in the final analysis, deal in money and the economically quantifiable inputs and activities it buys: things that cannot be quantified do not get money, and therefore they are not considered to be “development.” This has led most of the conventional Western discourse to ignore or dismiss the cultural, moral, and spiritual dimensions of human well-being as either irrelevant to development or so intractably subjective as to be unamenable to a “practical paradigm.”
Yet – and it is a big yet – beyond a basic level of survival and security, for most people in most parts of the world, innermost attitudes and behaviour towards change – individual or societal – are not motivated by economic or political interests. Many people in most cultures start at the other end of Maslow’s scale: at the most personal level, they are moved by deep underlying moral and spiritual assumptions that reflect and explain reality and that support the values that guide their decisions about whether to change or not to change.
For the most part, these assumptions and values are not expressed in conventional rational paradigms or in quantifiable terms, but in myth, ritual, and religion. These “ontological needs” or priorities include such things as: love of other, one’s commitment and responsibility to family, clan, and community; self-worth, one’s sense of dignity, honour, and respect; sexuality and gender, roles and relationships – both individual and social; work, both as a means of sustenance and as a creative act; beauty and joy, as expressed in dance, music, art, poetry, and play; a sense of the sacred and the transcendental, spirituality and formal religion; loyalty to the tribe, nation, or other ethnic identity; love of place, a sense of belonging; reverence for life, matter, and spirit in nature, the origin of nature, and its relation to self; the unseen; ancestors; and life and death.
All these are interlinked in “cosmological visions” or worldviews that provide people with points of departure for making “the great human choices” that really determine development: choices between transforming nature versus inhabiting it, between being present-oriented versus future-oriented, innovative versus passive, right versus wrong, or good versus evil. Principles or frameworks that provide answers to these questions can be considered “basic human needs” every bit as much as food, shelter, access to health and education, and honest, just governance.
Societies – and development theories and agencies – ignore or undermine these “ontological needs” at their own peril. When these needs are not met, societies, like individuals, can lose their inner bearings, and their sense of identity. Like individuals, some societies may rise above the resulting existential and social crises and wind up stronger and more creative communities. Like individuals, they may also lapse into behaviour patterns of aggression, stagnation, and alienation – with disastrous results, both nationally and internationally. As for development theories and models, if they cannot make room for these priorities, it is hard to consider them as bases for genuine human development.
In Canada, we have experienced the pernicious outcomes of development programs manufactured by government agencies for native peoples and impoverished residents of inner cities. We are slowly realizing that development processes built on unsustainable or nonfulfilling values may leave “recipients” poorer as persons, even though they may be materially better-off. To say this is not to rationalize or idealize poverty but simply to recognize that, of itself, freedom from poverty will not bring about human fulfilment; that requires a different kind of liberation.
To recognize the failures of the current economistic, technology-driven development paradigm and of the agencies, like IDRC, that have propounded it is not to deny its noble intent, its many accomplishments, and the many virtues that it has promoted. Accountability, individual initiative, participatory government, the rights of women, and responsible freedom of individual choice – principles promoted by the current development model – are powerful and also rooted in the “basic ontological needs” of human beings. Too often, however, they have been put forward as part of a cultural, economic, and social paradigm that has ignored or undermined other value and belief systems. In the process, the good in both the new and the old has suffered.
It is in this context that Dr. Ryan’s study has reminded IDRC of the fallacy of searching for a “new grail” or development paradigm, and is leading us to look instead to biodiversity for a guiding analogy: a variety of development paradigms, each rooted in its own ethical and spiritual worldview, mutually dependent, mutually respectful, and mutually enriching. Agencies like IDRC that want to promote changes improving the conditions for human well-being “so that people can exercise meaningful choices for their own benefit and that of society” must learn to listen to what other cultures and peoples, including Canadians, are saying about human development and aspirations through their manifestations of myth, religion, ritual, art, pain, poverty, conflict, and despair.
Movement towards a process of integration between social or institutional cultures that define themselves as scientific and those that do not seek their identity in science is not without its difficulties. As Dr. Ryan has discovered, moving away from the Enlightenment model or asserting that science is not value-free can provoke a wave of nervousness among science-based organizations like IDRC and some of its research partners. Cultures do clash, of course, and some cultural clashes are not only violent but insuperable. For instance, cultural practices that violate the fundamental dignity of women or children, or religious convictions that are used to engender intolerance or war, leave little or no room for reconciliation with the cultural framework within which IDRC is defined.
The nature of the enterprise we have embarked upon with this study, however, is not to try to resolve these clashes but to understand better how human values and belief systems influence or are influenced by interventions made in the name of “development.” If it is true that the prevailing economic and social development models must change in order to work harmoniously with values and belief systems that share a common concern for human well-being and the natural environment, it is also true that prevailing values and belief systems must also change in order to provide clear and compatible visions for social justice and environmental sustainability in global economic and social conditions.
The first stage may well be for people of goodwill from each viewpoint to come together to look at what their paradigms have in common as explicit economic and social principles (and why they have these in common). The second stage might be to explore the ways in which the different systems can work together for human well-being and fulfilment in a collective movement toward a just and peaceful world.
The cooperation that has taken place in this project between IDRC and the Jesuit Order is an indication of how persons and institutions whose finalities and world-views differ radically can nevertheless find common principles and concerns as a basis for working together. IDRC is grateful to Dr. Ryan and his community for their contributions to this project and for providing IDRC with a base for a dialogue with other faiths and value systems.
Vice-President (Corporate Services)
International Development Research Centre
I would like to thank Pierre Beemans, Vice-President (Corporate Services), IDRC, who was the initial inspiration for this project and offer special thanks to Chris Smart, Sharon Harper, and Kathleen Clancy. The advisory group became instrumental in determining the direction of inquiry and so I offer my gratitude for their wisdom and generosity of time and commitment. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Jesuit General, I thank for his support and belief in this joint effort and all the Jesuits who encouraged me and welcomed me into their homes along my travels.
I owe my deepest gratitude to the interviewees who provided me with inspiration throughout and who gave so freely of their time and thought. This list is long and can be found in the Appendix. I hope that this work in some small way does justice to the lives and deeds of these vibrant, generous people.
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At the outset of this project, my intention was to offer suggestions to IDRC on how to better integrate human values and belief systems into the modern economic development paradigm. But what began as a critical review of the dominant development paradigm was soon sharply changed in focus by an 11-member advisory group, made up of individuals with interest and expertise in the area, both from IDRC and from outside. At the first meeting, in May 1993, there was a loose consensus that the immediate focus of the project should be IDRC itself, and the methodology should consist primarily of initiating a process rather than “objectively” researching into the history, practice and future of the development paradigm. Early interviews with members of the advisory group confirmed and strengthened this approach. They showed little interest in a theoretical discussion of the present and future of the development paradigm, except as it related to their own personal experience of development work and IDRC’s mandate.
This book is presented in two parts and one appendix. Part I has four chapters which traces the evolution of the work to date, describes the research findings and offers research opportunities for interested development practitioners. Part II consists of two chapters made up of commentaries and reflections. A commentary written by Dr. Mohamed Sahnoun, Pearson Fellow with IDRC and director of the Earth Charter Program in the Netherlands, on the occasion of the presentation of this report to the IDRC Board of Governors has been included. And, after having listened to so many I have taken the opportunity of this book to offer some personal reflections on this rich experience of nonconventional research. The list of persons interviewed can be found in the Appendix.
In Phase I of the project, I interviewed 30 IDRC staff members, including the President, Directors General, several Program Directors, and other IDRC staff. Theoretical discussion of the paradigm itself was usually brief. All saw an urgent need for a modified or new approach to development work. Most observations about the paradigm, however, were made in the context of current realities, trends, and challenges at IDRC, especially the recent high priority of Agenda 211 and the restructuring process inside IDRC. Many of the interviews inevitably reflected how these new challenges seemingly facilitate or impede an honest enquiry into a new development research paradigm, or paradigms, within IDRC.
These interviews uncovered six general assumptions underlying the critique of the dominant development paradigm:
1. The current economic paradigm is not working.
2. The implicit assumption held by many about the universality of the Western scientific and technological culture is blatantly false. At the same time, the search for the “perfect package” and the right “technological fix” for every human development problem is proving futile.
3. The idea of pluralism of cultures is gaining increasing acceptance, and is prompting support for a plurality of development paradigms in the future.
4. The need to listen to and trust more diligently the indigenous knowledge, culture, and experience of people in developing countries is urgent. IDRC’s future may lie in critically incorporating the riches of local knowledge and experience of poor countries and in collaborating in true participatory-research partnerships with them.
5. In that the vast majority of people still believe in the “sacred,” the values, experience, and influence of local religious and ethical paradigms must be considered an integral element in designing development-research projects.
6. The search for a global ethic for human development is a worthwhile, even necessary venture, provided it emerges from personal and community beliefs, convictions, traditions, and experience of local peoples rather than from a process of Western deductive and abstract reasoning.
1 Agenda 21 is a global action plan for the 21st century, designed to provide direction and information to governments and communities as they work to solve urgent environmental problems, locally and globally. The plan is a direct follow-up to the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 1992. IDRC was chosen by the government of Canada to be one of the key implementing agencies for Agenda 21.
The personal-interview approach having proved fruitful, it was decided to extend its application beyond IDRC staff to a much broader group of persons in the developing world, where IDRC’s research finds its application. And so, on behalf of IDRC and the Jesuits, I visited cities in South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America and interviewed some 188 persons between February and July of 1994. Interviewees were preselected by the central and regional staff of IDRC and Jesuit colleagues in the regions to include as wide a range of experienced persons as feasible within the tight time and travel constraints of the project. IDRC provided for my travel, while the Jesuits provided for hospitality and accommodations. Interviews were informal and, with a few exceptions, one-on-one, lasting an average of two hours. Included among those interviewed were 24 IDRC regional staff and 60 local Jesuits.
The Jesuits were keen to be involved in this project because, like IDRC researchers, they are committed to working for a higher quality of human life for the poorest and most marginalized peoples of the world. In fact, in recent years they have struggled to have all their work marked with “a preferential option for the poor” — a struggle that has cost the lives of some 40 Jesuits in developing countries. Because the Jesuits were my hosts in 28 countries and because individual Jesuits or teams of Jesuits and lay people are now working in such a wide variety of religious, educational, and human development projects, interviewing them put me in touch with strata of society that I could not otherwise have reached. Hence the disproportionate number of Jesuits interviewed.
An inevitable gender bias arose in the process of interviewing devised for this project. Because Jesuits are men and IDRC has traditionally worked primarily with men, the majority of those proposed by regional and local IDRC staff and Jesuits were men, despite diligent efforts to increase the number of women interviewed. This is a weakness in the process that will have to be corrected in any future phases, since the central role of women in human development is uncontested, as was evident in many of the interviews.
Interest in the project among those interviewed was universally enthusiastic and supportive. Nevertheless, previous travel plans, incorrect addresses and phone numbers, important engagements, congested city traffic, multiple unexpected public holidays and long weekends, and finally, football mania in Latin America, bedeviled my tight schedule. I was able to interview, however, about 85 percent of those preselected, as well as several additional local persons, very knowledgeable about the subject and strongly recommended by those interviewed.
I make no claim that those interviewed constitute a representative sample in either their background or their views. Inevitably, the selection process was heavily biased in favour of persons whose work is known and appreciated by IDRC staff and Jesuits involved at the regional level of the development process. Only a much longer and more expensive research project could have overcome the weaknesses mentioned above. Moreover, it is not evident that such a larger project was necessary to achieve the limited goals of this present pioneering project.
Interviews covered the person’s background, training, experience, and beliefs or convictions, as well as his or her views on the relationship between economic development and cultural and religious values. All appreciated that I was, indeed, asking for their personal, not their official or professional, views. Finally, all were asked what a research agency like IDRC could do to improve their research concerning the process of human development. IDRC regional staff were consistently drawn out on this question.
Although there was universal interest and enthusiasm for this project among those interviewed, initially some had difficulty understanding that I was more interested in their personal convictions, experience, and views than in their published works or in doing an objective, in-depth study of the inadequacies of the development process in their particular context. Again and again I had to remind them that my purpose was to get a snapshot impression of how knowledgeable and experienced persons see the current issues, with a view to helping IDRC shape possible in-depth research on these issues in the future.
Within these limitations, the data base for this report, its analysis, and its suggestions for IDRC is constructed upon my personal recollections of the responses of those interviewed, verified against notes taken during most interviews. In some cases, this was supplemented with published views brought to my attention or shared with me by some interviewees. Of course, I reserve the privilege not to name specific sources for certain expressed views, where I judge that these were given in confidence and could, if published, compromise the owner’s public position.
What follows are the more striking trends and convergences among the views expressed but without forcing the data or making any attempt to be all-inclusive. As is to be expected in a survey of this kind, few wholly new ideas emerged. For my purposes, the source of the ideas or views is at least as important as the ideas or views themselves. What was unexpected, even allowing for the limitations of the sampling process, was the remarkable convergence of the views and convictions of Asians, Africans, and Latin Americans on many of the central issues raised. It should be noted that the views of some of those interviewed were probably coloured to some extent by their acquaintance with IDRC or with the Jesuits and, of course, by what influence they wanted to have on the future work of these two groups in the area of development research.
All those interviewed were supportive of IDRC’s concern to better integrate local cultural and religious values – which includes spiritual and ethical values – into its research for sustainable and equitable development. Most also included belief systems and world religions as matters of urgent research, but several were more reticent about how to deal with the ambiguous role of organized or institutional religion.
The first part within this section will group together the criticisms and concerns gathered from interviewees about the current development paradigm. The second part will explore the positive resources identified by interviewees as already existing in local experience and values – both spiritual and cultural – that will help alleviate these concerns.
The Western economic-growth model, now rejuvenated by an enthusiastic revival of neoliberal market ideology, has few defenders among those interviewed. Many nongovernmental grassroots organizers (and by NGO, I mean nonprofit organizations) simply try to ignore it and get on with their work of fighting poverty and building community among the poor. In Asia, many seem to accept this new development fatalistically and deplore what free-market ideology is doing to their cultural, family, and community values, as well as to their environment and natural resources. Yet, even those consequences do not broach the subject of its effects on the poor, who are excluded from any positive benefits of a thriving free market! This refrain was taken up by many interviewees, such as Senator Leila Sharaf of Jordan who remarked with evident frustration that the spirit of individualism associated with global free-market ideology and its faithful messengers – the transnational corporations and the Western media – are devastating family and community values that once were the foundation for a informal social security net. In return, only phantom monetary alternatives are proposed for improving the conditions under which poor people must live.
Most African intellectuals see free-market ideology as yet another form of neocolonialism and reject it, especially as it is currently incarnated in structural adjustment policies, which they see as destroying rather than building on African traditional cultural and religious values.
Under the powerful influence of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), many Latin Americans – after enduring painful failure of experimentation with left- and right-wing alternatives – are stoically accepting the inevitability of being part of the global free-market structure, simply because they see themselves as powerless to do anything else. So they work inside the given paradigm but strive for “growth with equity” in their own economy. Many are optimistic that, with a continuing political consensus, they can succeed.
Others are simply working at building up civil society through more pragmatic education, attempting to improve the “quality” of economic production and especially the “quality” of human relations in their countries. Still others, such as Dr. Heinz Sonntag, president of the Asociación Latinoamericana de Sociología (Latin American sociological association), are biding their time, waiting for the emergence of an alternative global paradigm of sustainable development. Some characteristics of this alternative conception are already discernible in the human development indicators created by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and in the preparatory studies for the World Summit for Social Development.
Interviewees are also critical of Western solutions to problems in the developing world because of their implicit objectification of the people they are intended to help. Those who referred to the UN Conference on Population and Development tended to see it as just one more organized, neocolonial pressure to force poor Africans into the narrow North American mind-set. This approach considers them more as problems crying out for socially engineered solutions than as subjects on whose informed free choice the future of the planet may depend.
As Professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo pointed out, Africans see themselves as valued not for who they are as humans but rather as what they have to become to fit into the plans and expectations of donor and UN agencies. They point to the African experience of structural adjustment policies as confirmation of this conviction. Despite its recent change in rhetoric, even its most recent report on Africa in March 1994 (World Bank 1994) shows the World Bank to be unwilling to consider transformation of its narrow approach. Rhetoric aside, its only solution continues to be a lengthier and more faithful application of those very policies that have thus far achieved little, and at horrendous social cost, especially in poorer countries.
Many socialists – including the two founders of liberation theology in Latin America, Gustavo Guttierez in Lima, Peru, and Juan Luis Segundo, S.J. in Montevideo, Uruguay – and even a few Catholic bishops are relieved by the collapse of communist governments, of so-called “real socialism.” They now feel freer to criticize the evident faults and failings of capitalist models and ideology without being dismissed as “communists.”
Yet, with the fall of communist governments and the subsequent end of the Cold War, many smaller countries, especially in Africa, find themselves greatly diminished in importance in the eyes of the major powers. This was the primary concern of people such as Dr. El Sayed Yassin, director of the Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, and of historian Joseph Ki-Zerbo, director and founder of the Centre for African Development Studies in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Now Arab and African countries feel that they have little or no influence in shaping new and emerging global development paradigms, to which their future is inevitably tied.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) find few friends among those interviewed, including former employees of the Bank itself. They see these powerful agencies as exceeding their historical mandates and often as simply carrying out the economic mandates of the major powers, in particular, those of the United States. With the end of the Cold War, they often seem to be enforcing the free-market ideology worldwide. In Africa, for example, these agencies are seen by critics — such as West African historian Ki-Zerbo — as fostering, if not forcing, free-market structures on Africa states. These structures assume values and attitudes that are simply not there, such as a spirit of individual entrepreneurship, a readiness to save and invest in development projects, and especially a business-friendly ethic.
Sociologist Carlos Filgueira, director of the Uruguay Information and Study Centre (CIESU) in Montevideo, sees the World Bank as increasingly controlling the research agenda of developing nations through its preference for locally applied research-action projects. Indeed, on all three continents, local researchers claim that the funds available for regionally focused, basic research are growing ever smaller, thus impeding those who might create an indigenous social science and technology. To many, the implicit message seems to be: “We do the thinking, you do its local application.”
When the question of personal freedom and human rights is raised in non-Western cultures one is promptly asked: Whose concept of “personal freedom” and “human rights” are we talking about? Most individuals interviewed in Asia and Africa stated their convictions that while universal cultural values and human rights certainly do exist, even these must be allowed to develop their own unique cultural and historical nuances.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, a respected Muslim scholar and leader, presently director of the new Just World Trust (JUST), shared with me the preparatory documentation for an international human rights conference he was busy organizing, to be held in Kuala Lumpur from 6-7 December 1994. The central focus of this conference, entitled Rethinking Human Rights, was the fundamental questions currently being raised in the developing world concerning Western global domination in the human rights area. Simply put, the priority given to civil and political rights over economic, social, and cultural rights, by a concept of individual rights not inherently linked to corresponding responsibilities was being called into question. In his introductory remarks to the conference, Muzaffar asked the audience, “Isn’t it true that a concept of rights which is not founded upon a coherent, integrated, holistic vision of spiritual values must lead inevitably to moral chaos and confusion as it is beginning to happen within segments of Western society today?”2
Some interviewees from Africa, such as Yassin, see the creed of the Enlightenment – the foundation of classical and neoclassical economics – as crumbling, along with its faith in steady progress toward total secularity, its absolute dependence on reason and rationality, and its concept of linear progress (abetted by social engineering based on new discoveries in science and technology). Yet, ironically such observers see the rhetoric of “people-centred” and “participatory” development of many donor and UN declarations as remaining just that, rhetoric. They see the operational measures of development as still based on an implicit assumption of linear, almost deterministic progress into the future.
2 Introductory remarks given at the Rethinking Human Rights Conference, 6-7 December 1994, Kuala Lumpur. Just World Trust, Penang, Malaysia. 3 pp.
Western-trained experts and professionals – both national and foreign – are often held in suspicion by the poor people and by the less powerful NGOs, especially in Asia and Africa, because they are seen to be faithful servants and guardians of the free-market mind-set. Their bibles are the textbooks of the American and European universities, the universities where they did their graduate studies and became a privileged professional elite in their own countries. Yet, few among those interviewed look to the universities in the developing world to do creative research in the field of human development. Professors who have abandoned university life and now work with NGOs are severe critics of academics because they often teach with foreign textbooks and do not grapple with current local cultural and economic realities.
The experts often feel a similar distrust of local knowledge. Dr. S. Parasuraman of the Tata Institute of Social Studies has served as an intermediary between local people and NGOs on one side, and government representatives and experts on the other, in the debate over the proposed Narmada dam. From this experience, he shared with me the difficulties Asian experts and professionals can have in accepting that they could learn something from ordinary people, with no university qualifications. Thus, the suspicion runs both ways, and prevents the resources held by each side from being used effectively.
Many interviewees pointed out the stark contradiction between current trade and debt policies of Western countries, which cost developing countries billions of dollars, and their tightly “conditioned” aid policies, which provide only a fraction of that amount. Interviewees pointed to Africa as a good example of the consequences of the Western approach to foreign aid. Africans are not considered genuine partners in aid arrangements, even by most private agencies and religious organizations, but rather as passive recipients of “gifts” and as unruly dependents requiring the control imposed by aid conditions. This pattern is gradually eroding any sense of identity or social responsibility in Africa. A few thoughtful persons raised the question whether the only way Africans will be able to take control of their destiny and remain true to their roots is to refuse most foreign aid.
The high risk of depending on foreign “gifts” was dramatically illustrated for me by the recent experience of the much admired Buddhist Sarvodaya Movement in Sri Lanka. With the generous, long-term support of a strong coalition of foreign funding agencies – NOVIB of Holland, CIDA of Canada, ODA of the UK, NORAD of Norway, and HELVETAS of Switzerland3 – this Buddhist inspired self-help movement was flourishing in 8 000 villages and employed over 1 000 people until one day last spring, when its president, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, was informed that he would have to count on a 42 percent cut in funding for the next fiscal year. I met him a few days after he had received the news. As we quietly sipped tea together, he brought Buddhist principles into play, telling me that he could even see this development as being a good thing in that his people would need to bring back the old spirit of sharing their personal time, effort, and resources in a self-sacrificial manner for the welfare of all. This approach to life is, after all, what they offer as a model to the larger Sri Lankan society.
International documents talk about the ideal of a diversity of cultures, but in practice even well-intentioned economists still see the ideal as integrating cultural values into their own growth paradigm or putting such values at the service of technology, rather than putting both technology and economics at the service of the cultural values and goals of local people. Dr. Terry Ryan, economic secretary to the Kenyan Ministry of Finance, told me that he waits for the day when a local economist will propose an economic analysis based on how Africans are really motivated, an analysis that gives evidence of understanding how “social capital.” can be built up in the present African context. For example, not many foreigners, it seems, easily understand how an African can by “wasting time” – drinking beer with a friend in local pub – be building up “social capital,” since trusted personal relationships can often provide more guaranteed security for an individual than the insignificant wages available for work. Ryan attributes the lack of appreciation for local African cultural and religious values to a Western perspective of privilege and individuality; rich Westerners simply do not understand the idea that even slaves have an advantage over the poor. Slaves, after all, have some identity; they belong to someone, whereas today’s poor, especially in Africa, belong nowhere and to no one.
Ryan brought to my attention an important study initiated by Mamadou Dia, the Senegalese chief of the Institutional Development Division of the World Bank in Africa. It is entitled, Development and Cultural Values in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, Dia (1991, p. 10) simply rejects the “accepted” logical conclusion of most experts “that Africa’s development must be stimulated from
3 Netherlands Organization for International Assistance; Canadian International Development Agency; Overseas Development Administration; Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation; and Swiss Association for Development and Cooperation.
outside, requiring a transfer of culture, method, and techniques.” Dia (1991, p. 10) writes that “the evidence to date strongly suggests that none of these assumptions are valid.” Ryan wondered aloud why there is little evidence that the World Bank and other agencies have heard this message, particularly when it comes from insiders within the World Bank.
Many of those interviewed, including some UN officials, pointed out the sharp limitations of all UN agencies; they are overbureaucratized and remain beholden to national governments, even in their research. For example, officials at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) do not hide the fact that their research on the role of belief systems and values (both religious and cultural) in development had been censored by certain governments. Officials in these huge agencies look to smaller, freer, and more flexible agencies – such as IDRC – to do particular research in these sensitive areas.
In this final section, I include a catch-all for the diverse opinions not represented elsewhere. Several people attributed the failure of the modern economic paradigm to its excessive use of abstract “frozen” concepts to observe, analyze, and prescribe ever-changing realities, including people. Others, such as Professor Ch-vi Chen, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Economics, and Business, at the Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas, suggest that most economists consistently limit themselves to short-term analysis. They implicitly assume that repeated “short-runs” will eventually mesh with a real historical “long-run,” conveniently forgetting that they are dealing with abstract symbols, not with the full complexity of changing realities. Others berate economists for seeking alternatives within the narrow confines of their economic paradigm and mind-set, even as it becomes clearer, for example, that ecological and cultural “externalities” cannot be taken care of by simply integrating them into the economic-growth model and so into the marketplace.
I cannot, however, conclude this brief, synthetic survey of what I heard without reporting that several of those interviewed expressed great frustration and impatience with the slowly dawning awareness of Westerners, including development agencies, that their basic development model has failed and is continuing to fail hundreds of millions of poor people in the developing world. Experience has shown that Western free-market models, which ignore spiritual and cultural values as “externalities” while establishing dependency and vulnerability in their place, do not work in developing countries. The clear opinion was that fundamental reworking of the current development paradigms is long overdue. Gustavo Guttierez summed up the frustration as he spoke about the extreme poverty of many of his parishioners who live in one of the poorest barrios in Lima: “How much longer do people have to suffer?”
Few would agree, I believe, with the surprising claim made by Mahbub ul Haq (1994) in his 1994 Barbara Ward Lecture in Mexico City entitled New Imperatives for Human Society, that the battle for a new people-centred development paradigm is already won, and that fear for personal and human survival will motivate people to make the difficult but necessary changes in the years ahead. Many of those interviewed cannot take such claims seriously as long as the only solution offered for their overwhelming debt and trade problems are unworkable and inhuman structural adjustment policies. People must look elsewhere for answers, and as the interviews showed, their inquiry often turns up resources in spiritual and ethical values which improve understanding about human development.
Because of the diversity of backgrounds among those interviewed, I did not ask them for personal definitions in the area of religious belief. The interviews did however build up a picture of the spiritually oriented understanding of the interviewees as a spectrum, extending from the purely spiritual to the particular material embodiment of certain spiritual values and beliefs – from spiritual values, religious values, particular religious values, ethical values, particular religious belief systems, particular religions, and finally to particular religious institutions, organizations, and places of worship. Some would look to religious beliefs for spiritual enlightenment and encouragement only; others would look to religious systems and institutions for personal guidance and social teaching; and, finally, many would see religious institutions as playing a specific role in fostering social responsibility and values in society. For some, religion and spirituality is primarily individual; for others, it is primarily social. Yet, most believe that religion and religious values involve either positive or negative influences for modern development. Moreover, all interviewees see these values as significant and believe they must be taken into account when researching the process of development in their societies.
I was constantly reminded that a “secular” society is a construct of convenience in Western society and is still largely unknown in many Asian and African societies. In these cultures, a sense of the “sacred” — of “God” and of “spirits” — still dominates the daily life of most people. In Africa, for example, even well-educated and professional persons consume much energy, time, and resources placating the “the living dead” — that world of both good and evil spirits associated with the dead members of their extended families. It appears that neither Islam nor Christianity, and certainly not the neoliberal ideology of the World Bank, for that matter, have succeeded in exorcizing, integrating, rechanneling, or even sounding the depth of the multiple energies Africans devote daily to dealing with this spirit world, which continues to be an integral part of the African identity.
For example, Réné Roy, S.J., director of the Institut africain pour le développement économique et social (INADES, African institute for social and economic development) in Abidjan, Côte d’lvoire, introduced me to the case of Charles Valy Tuho, Ivoirien Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Brussels and former rector of the National University of Côte d’lvoire. In a recent pamphlet entitled, J’ai vu son visage (Tuho 1992), the ambassador recounts his personal struggle with the spirit world which caused him, at one point, to be prepared to murder in order to placate the spirits. Several people interviewed recounted cases where Africans go into debt or even steal to provide elaborate funerals to please the spirits of the dead or at least to escape the possibility that someone might put a curse on them for lacking love for their family. In many regions of Africa, no important meeting can take place on Fridays, as that is the day for funerals.
Most of those interviewed attribute to religious roots the very strong bonds of extended family which still characterize societies in Asia and Africa and, to a lesser extent, Latin America. In Asia and Africa, one still finds a sense of loyalty and responsibility – to family, community, group, and ethnicity – stronger than that which is experienced in Western societies, where individual freedom and individual rights have priority of place. Some would even say that, in much of the developing world, one still finds family-based and society-based morality more often than individual-based morality. A simple example was brought to my attention to show how Eastern cultures instinctively give priority to the total society – to the tribe, group, or family – over the individual: a person from an Eastern culture will often address an envelope by writing the name of the state first, followed by the name of the city and the street, and finally, by the name of the individual. Westerners, on the other hand, reverse this order, placing the name of the individual first on the envelope.
Most of those interviewed seem convinced that religious belief in the transcendent and in the dignity of every human being offers a solid guarantee that even the most disadvantaged person will receive respect and care, since the world’s religions often portray “the divinity” or the great teachers as protectors of the oppressed. Jesuit Aloysius Pieris, a Sri Lankan expert on Buddhist sacred documents, offered one conception for the collaborative role religions could play in alleviating poverty. He believes that the only locus for true encounter between Christians and Buddhists – in fact, between Christians and any of the world religions in countries where Christians are a small minority – is in living out with other believers a shared “option for the poor,” since poverty is the overwhelming religious reality that surrounds and challenges all faith systems.
Essentially, ecological concerns were muted among those interviewed, except for those more directly involved with ecological issues. Most do not deny their importance but tend to consider them primarily as the new proactive agenda of Westerners, including IDRC. The free-market paradigm is seen as contradictory to genuine ecological concerns because it cannot realistically be reproduced in developing countries and it destroys the community solidarity base that is required for future sustainable development. Hence, some interviewees question the selective attention Westerners are presently giving to ecological concerns.
Yet, a number of those interviewed drew connections between religious and spiritual values and the protection of the environment. They believe that we will need stronger bonds of solidarity and a stronger sense of community if we are to make serious progress in protecting the global environment, just as we need these bonds to help prevent social injustice. They hold up Buddhism and Hinduism as having proved more friendly to all forms of life than certain modern interpretations of Christianity and Islam. Indeed, it was pointed out that in some areas of India nature and animals are, at times, more valued than poor people. Researchers – such as Dr. Pei Shengji who has engaged in prolonged and enduring dialogue with Buddhist mountain villagers in southwest China – help to establish how ethics and religious beliefs have conserved biodiversity over the centuries, especially in forests, plant life, and medicinal herbs. Shengei told me that his thesis has now been generalized to include several major religions, including Christianity, through case studies undertaken by the Program on Environment at the East-West Centre in Hawaii (Hamilton 1993).
Anthropologist Dr. Marshall Murphree of the University of Zimbabwe would credit religion with a key insight into ecology: that environmental health depends on the quality of social relations in human society — a quality, unfortunately, that the current dominant economic ideology is rapidly weakening, if not destroying. Murphree bases this approach on the pioneering work of anthropologist, J.M. Schoffeleers (1979, p. 43) who pointed out that just “when the world is beginning its ecological woes and is trying to construct a viable ideology, Africa [by modelling itself after industrial countries] is divesting itself of the one she so long possessed.”
Some of those interviewed considered it unfair for Westerners to look to Asians or to Eastern religions to suggest a more viable future development paradigm if they cannot themselves find one, especially considering that Western materialism and wasteful consumption have caused so many of today’s global problems. Yet, even in Asia, religion does not appear to be operating as a significant moderating influence on the current maelstrom of rapid economic growth, although admittedly such influences are often only detectable over longer periods of time. Despite this apparent lack of mitigating effect, some interviewees — including economists such as Dr. Jiban K. Mukhopadhyay of the Department of Economics and Statistics at Tata Services in Bombay — believe that the flexible inclusiveness of Hinduism may buffer India against the destructive fallout from rapid and uncontrolled economic change by reshaping capitalism in its own image.
Reaction to the human and ecological fallout from rapid economic change comes most forcefully from new NGOs, whose numbers are exploding in South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. New energy and sophistication comes to the NGOs from the thousands of intellectuals recently fired, imprisoned, exiled, or sent abroad to do graduate studies by various recent dictatorial regimes. With their growing global networks, NGOs – often headed by competent but poorly paid women – are rapidly coming to rival university faculties and even government bureaucracies in their competence on socioeconomic and political issues and in their skills in practical and popular education. Most people interviewed rejoice in this NGO explosion, but many worry about the interrelation of these new coalitions of NGOs with governments that are not ready for this blatant invasion of their political space. In fact, some fearful governments are already cloning loyal NGOs to neutralize the growing influence of independent NGOs in their countries.
Among others, the following recent examples of NGO efforts were brought to my attention:
• the major role played by NGOs and NGO coalitions in helping a movement to oust President Collor in Brazil;
• the current impasse in proceeding with the controversial Narmada dam in the state of Gujarat, India, a huge project which would displace 50 000 to 60 000 peasant families and significantly affect an important sacred site; and
• the energetic struggle of Egyptian NGOs to organize an effective voice for the NGO forum at the recent UN Population and Development Conference in Cairo, under the leadership of Dr. Aziza Hussein, president of the local NGO steering committee.
My interviewees pointed out to me that in Asia, as in Africa and Latin America, religious inspiration, leadership, and funding were, until quite recently, at the roots of most NGOs working for social justice. In Asia today, one finds within Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and the minority Christianity, enthusiastic groups championing the cause of compassion, social justice, and ecological concern. The preferred models for study and action seem to be those already being used by Christian social action groups.
In Taipei, Buddhist nun, Leau-Yia Thih, director of the Ling-Jiou San Prajna Cultural and Educational Foundation described to me her monastery’s plans to structure outreach programs to help the poor and marginalized, as well to promote inter-religious dialogue. Leau-Yia explained to me that in the four days each week which the small group of young nuns and monks do not spend in silence and meditation in their rustic monastery on the north shore of Taiwan, ROC, they work in a modern downtown office raising funds worldwide to support hospitals, orphanages, and social welfare projects. They are presently planning a research centre in social sciences so that they can extend their work to issues of social justice. For now, however, their most ambitious venture is a multimillion-dollar “museum” for world religions, which will include a space for celebration and study in each religion, and also a central space for inter-religious dialogue.
Dr. Habib Chirzin is editor-in-chief of Mizan, the Islamic Forum of Indonesia for World Culture and Civilization. His intent in publishing Mizan seems to be to help Indonesian Muslims understand the difference between religious doctrines in the Koran and their concrete embodiment in human life, human structures, and human history. To bind the Koran in time, he feels, is to make it lose its validity beyond a certain spatiotemporal framework.
In confronting socioeconomic problems, it is useful to consider such problems not primarily as theoretical in nature but rather as practical matters to be solved through better management and more skilled social organization. This approach seems particularly congenial to leaders of community NGOs, especially women, working with people in poverty-stricken villages. For example, Romana de los Reyes, a sociocultural anthropologist and director of the Institute of Philippine Culture, attributes the current success of her institute to its concentration on working directly with poor farmers and fishers, teaching them entrepreneurial, organizational, and managerial skills.
Likewise, Bienvenido Nebres, S.J., a mathematician and currently President of Ateneo de Manila University, is more attracted to experimental, evolutionary models of development than to traditional abstract models. Recently, when challenged by students on the weak ecological concerns at the university, he in turn challenged the students to work with him to make the Ateneo campus into an integrated and healthy ecological system by taking the full consequences of closing the ecological circle and also by not closing the campus gates to the many people who beg there each day!
Jesuit Mario Zanartu, professor of ethics and economics at the Centro Bellarmino, a research and educational centre, was among the number of interviewees who count on a renewal of social ethics to build social responsibility and commitment. This group of thinkers is challenged, however, by those who question the usefulness of purely rational ethics, claiming that social responsibility and commitment are an affair not of the head but of the heart and must be based on experiences of solidarity, belonging, and direct involvement with people. Thus, I found many interviewees in Latin America anxious to promote more pragmatic education and training related directly to promoting employment and to enhancing quality production. I found this preoccupation for example, in the Catholic universities of Caracas, Lima, Montevideo, and Santiago. And quite unexpectedly, I learned that many see the Latin American Catholic church as regaining considerable prestige and influence in some regions – particularly in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela — because of its stubborn commitment to the poor.
Many interviewees pointed out the great creativity shown by ordinary people in developing solutions to social problems. For example, elaborate, informal markets have been organized, out of necessity, in overcrowded cities, thus helping to diffuse social frustrations that can lead to violence. Maurice Martin, S.J. showed me, for example, how well multiple smaller shops were integrated into the daily life and habits of slum dwellers in Cairo. This genius for urban grassroots organization is often abetted by local NGOs. In Bogota, the Centre for socioeconomic research and action (CINEP), a Jesuit centre, is currently training people in poor barrios how to organize their buying power to force chain stores and enterprises to leave a greater share of their profits in the local community. In Abidjan, Côte d’lvoire, the World Bank has supported a project, initiated by Jesuit anthropologist Michel Guery, to rehabilitate street children abandoned by their families because of lack of food. So far, this project has been 80 percent successful in training and finding jobs for street kids, but only in cases where the children have first been provided with renewed family structures within which they are appreciated and loved. As a precaution against violence in Lima, the government has allowed newcomers to densely populated areas to replicate the patterns of their village way of life. Many of those interviewed challenged IDRC to study recent experiences such as these and to give priority to research on urban poverty and community in the coming years.
On the other hand, people like agronomist, Edward Grillo Fernandez, the director of Programa Andino de Tecnologias Campesinos (PRATE, Andean program for rural technologies) in Lima, have only dim hopes for aboriginal peoples in urban areas. He believes that the Andean native peoples should return to their traditional agricultural lifestyles, to rediscover its community and ecological values. He is convinced that compatible agronomy and technology, such as those encouraged by PRATE, can help them in this. Fernandez will have no truck with words like “ecology” and “development.” For him, they carry overtones of Western power and control. He sees things differently: the Earth is not at the service of human beings. Instead, human beings have a duty to nourish the Earth.
The “conflict-model” approach to human progress that is so common in the West is quite foreign to Eastern thought. Their religious backgrounds, perhaps most particularly neo-Confucian, Buddhist, and Hindu backgrounds, present harmony and consensus as the ideal way forward for human society. Although some of their authoritarian approaches seem harsh to Westerners, it is clear that they are aiming at a blend of competition and solidarity in which solidarity takes priority over competition. Generally speaking, “social responsibility” takes priority over “individual rights” in Asian cultures and religions.
Other people displayed a preference for a future integration of the two approaches. People such as Dr. Chi-vi Chen of Caracas, Venezuela believe they can see a gradual movement toward a melding of Eastern and Western values into “cooperative capitalism” or “cooperative economics.”
Other Asians – especially Filipinos and Indians – told me that they do not consider Singapore, its rapid economic growth equalled only by its draconian social controls, to be in any way a desirable model for their own countries. Yet, some Latin American countries, perhaps most particularly Chile, envy Asia’s consensus approach and are already in contact with some of the Asian “tigers” to see what can be learned from their recent experience of rapid economic growth. For example, the former Minister of Labour in Chile, Rene Cortazar, told me that he plans to visit Malaysia, Singapore, and perhaps Thailand in an upcoming visit to learn how these countries manage to sustain political consensus in time of rapid economic change.
Because political division has, in the past, often bedeviled human development in Latin American countries, now “harmony in human relations” has become for many the primary goal of a future people-centred development. For others, especially in Brazil and Venezuela, such consensus or harmony in human relations must be the centrepiece in building or rebuilding a civil society that looks to government only for those things it cannot itself do. Chile’s recently retired Minister of Planning and Finance, Sergio Molina, sees no possibility for a small country like Chile to influence the global competitive free-market game. For him, all Chileans can do is to work at changing the way they relate to one another and, through political consensus, prove that a small country can have “growth with equity.” A few of those interviewed suggested that development paradigms could take lessons from biology: in nature, forces of competition and solidarity endlessly work together to form coordinated and united living bodies.
The interviewees showed themselves to be interested in including human variables back into the development equation. Their responses show how spiritual and community values still play a large role in the lives of people in developing countries. Interviewees suggest that the resources provided by these values can be helpful, both to encourage solidarity with the poor and to help them to develop solutions for themselves. Traditional worldviews, newly rediscovered, can be tapped to find new ways of approaching development issues. Interviewees also point to the climbing number of NGOs – which often find their rationales in humanist or spiritual values, and sometimes receive their financial support from religious contributions – as helping to resuscitate civil society and develop indigenous alternatives to government and Western-based approaches.
• Most of those interviewed reject the current messianic status being given to the global free-market paradigm, but they are hard put to come up with alternatives.
• Interviewees offer trenchant criticisms of the modern economic paradigm. Some suggest that any new paradigm(s) must be environmental in the broadest sense, the economic aspects being only one dimension of it. Others suggest new approaches to economic analysis that consider complexity and local human experience more fully.
• Interviewees generally see ecological concerns, despite their importance, as being a Western agenda.
• Most interviewees do not look to the universities as crucial agents to support creative development. In fact, Western-trained and foreign experts are often considered with suspicion by the poor and by those who work with them.
• Many interviewees see the UN agencies as too bureaucratic and too beholden to the governments of the major powers to deal with sensitive areas of research, such as the relationship between local cultural and religious values and development.
• Many interviewees see their countries’ future development as dependent on rejuvenating civil society by strengthening a number of factors: a local sense of responsibility, both individual and communal; political consensus; social management skills; and practical education. They were less hopeful about a new, still-unknown, development model.
• Interviewees point to the recent explosion of NGOs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America as one of the most hopeful signs of the times. They see NGOs as an influence to counteract the multiple damages incurred through the excesses of free-market economic growth, that is, social injustice to the marginalized and ecological destruction to the planet.
• Several interviewees point to the initiative and creativity displayed by ordinary people – when they are not overwhelmed by outside forces – in discovering feasible solutions to their own concrete daily problems, even in urban areas.
• Many of those people interviewed see harmony in human relationships as perhaps the single most important condition for human development in developing countries.
• Almost every interviewee displayed the conviction that religions and religious values have played and still play a significant, if often ambiguous role, in the process of human development in developing countries. An unanswered question follows on the heels of this conviction: Why does the same religion and the same values seem, at times, to have different economic consequences in different historical and cultural settings?
• Similarly, most of those interviewed claim that culture and cultural values can no longer be seen as anything other than determining variables in any serious analysis of human development.
• Interviewees were strongly supportive of IDRC’s interest in trying to achieve a better integration of local cultural and spiritual values into its research on human development.
In the next chapter, I point to discoveries made through the process of this research, and explore what these mean in terms of the question raised in the title of this work.
Clearly, most of those interviewed believe that the current dominant paradigm of the competitive free market is neither ecologically viable in the longer term, nor adequate to meet the basic needs of people in the short term. The basic weakness of the “scientific model,” which simplifies and explains reality by separating knowledge from experience, is that it fails to provide an analysis of complex global phenomena that is adequate for human action or government policy.
Since the fall of “real” socialism, the “correct thinking” of our day – featured daily in more serious publications such as The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and in recent years, in the editorial and business pages of The Globe and Mail – is that there is now only one acceptable ideology. The credo is that a free market will solve most of our socioeconomic problems if only it is allowed to do so. A complementary extreme view – likewise an article of faith for many – is that technology will solve most of our development problems, if only it is given its full scope. Underlying these positions is the unstated and unproven belief, now shattered for many, that progress and development are ultimately rational, linear, and deterministic processes.
Yet, if we are to believe a recent extensive report in the 1 October 1994 edition of The Economist, several richer countries are already panicking at the realization that some developing nations are beginning to challenge their dominant economic ranking in the world. Dr. Vandana Shiva, distinguished Indian environmentalist and feminist, however, has identified a state of mind that reinforces the hegemony of the richer countries. She calls it the “monoculture mind.” By breeding intolerance for diversity, the monoculture mind impoverishes the world culturally and ecologically, creating violence and vulnerability as homogeneity is forced onto diversity. Monocultures of the mind also change our perspectives, creating “monotonic” values and blinding us to alternatives. In her David Hopper Lecture on Development, entitled Monocultures of the Mind: Understanding the Threats to Biological and Cultural Diversity, Shiva (1993, p. 11) summed up the consequences in development terms:
There are two histories that the monoculture mind simultaneously erases – that of the struggle for survival of Third World peoples and that of the real economic interests that drive the only existing superpower to force its vision and will on all peoples and nations of the world.
The danger, of course, is all too evident. By accepting the perspective of the monoculture mind that there are no alternatives, we risk the slavery of an arrested social imagination!
Despite ul Haq’s perhaps premature celebration of a new development paradigm, most of those interviewed might agree with another of his statements in the 1994 Barbara Ward Lecture: that the first revolution required for sustainable development is a revolution in the concept of development. At pages 8-9, he said:
There must be a search for models of development which enhance human life, not marginalize it; which treat GNP [gross national product] as a means, not an end; which replenish natural resources for future generations, not destroy them; which encourages grass root participation of people in the events and processes that shape their lives. ... For people, the purpose of development must be to increase their options, to equalize their opportunities, to enable them to enter the market competition on an equal footing. This is the real essence of sustainable development strategies.
UI Haq sees the real challenge now to be an operational one: to translate this new paradigm of development into policy and international institutions.
I believe, however, a cautionary note is in order, such as that voiced by IDRC President Keith Bezanson in his presentation before the Special Joint Committee Reviewing Canadian Foreign Policy. He stated: “To position ourselves in a way that will make a maximum difference for us as a country and for the world as a whole...will not be easy, for it will require rising above the many platitudes and shibboleths that are heard daily in the name of development.” As Albert Einstein observed many years ago: “We cannot solve the problems that we have created with the same thinking that created them.” Or as John M. Keynes put it: “The difficulty lies not in new ideas, but in escaping the old.”
I cite a small but significant example of the tenacity of old ideas. Ul Haq seems to consider entry into the market on “an equal footing” as “the real essence of sustainable development strategies.” In order for many of those I interviewed to accept ul Haq’s new paradigm, the phrase “equal footing” would have to carry enormous weight and meaning. As we saw in Latin America, many people are ready to play the global free-market game, not because they believe in it, but because they simply see no current, viable alternative. The pressures put on them by the G-7 powers, reinforced by those of the World Bank and the IMF — not to mention the transnational corporations and a largely uncritical, privately-owned global media — have proven irresistible.
Yet, while most of those interviewed reject the dominant economic paradigm, they see no readily available alternative. They only glimpse on the horizon desirable elements that may one day come together into what Robert Heilbronner calls “participatory economics” and others, such as Dr. Chi-vi Chen, call “cooperative capitalism.” Some elements of this participatory vision of economics can be found in the vision of development that emerged from the recent Center of Concern’s Rethinking Bretton Woods Conference. Held in June 1994, in Washington, this conference brought together participants from 26 countries. Their vision of development is multidimensional and people-centred, that is, characterized by participatory, transparent and accountable decision-making processes, and by subsidiarity, putting control over people’s lives into their own hands as much as possible (Center of Concern 1994, pp. 1-2).
The position that people – their culture and their beliefs – are the central players in, and unique subjects of, their own human development is an important part of this vision. In this view, development can be truly human only when the people themselves are full partners in the creation of their own development, not merely passive receivers or survivors of packaged Western development. Needless to say, those whom I interviewed leaned in the direction of this position, but in differing degrees and without denying the significant role played by technology, capital, and markets in the process of human development.
One significant example of the success of people-centred development is the vibrancy of African informal microenterprises, even in difficult times. In the study he did for the World Bank, Mamadou Dia (1991) reported that the success of these businesses depends primarily on the fact that their efficiency, productivity, and management are “largely a family affair.” It is not correlated with the spirit of enterprise, material security, and self-interest that are still thought by the economists of the World Bank to be indispensable to development, as they were in the developed world. Given the African people’s deep involvements in the spirit world, Dia even considers the value of integrating religious rituals into business to reinforce personal and group commitments needed for sustained development.
Since most of the people interviewed see development as “people-centred” rather than “market-centred,” they naturally reject a homogenized world culture and put increased importance on local values and systems – cultural, religious, spiritual, and ethical. They no longer want these dismissed as “given” or “externalities” but rather want them, among others, to be included as endogenous variables in any future development model. Most of those interviewed believe from their own experience or study that faith systems such as Animism, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Islam have had and still have influence on human development.
The interviewees are dissatisfied with development research in the last few decades, because it has all but ignored this experience or has considered such values as either neutral or only negative influences. The failure of the mechanical, linear development model to touch the needs of an ever-growing number of poor people in the world is shifting the focus back to the integral role of people in development. In fact, most interviewees seem to be searching for alternative models, not any one alternative model. Just as they accept biodiversity, they embrace cultural diversity and so also reject the global homogenized culture that is implicit in the linear concept of progress and development. Pluralism has become the most popular rallying cry.
The recent explosion of NGOs is one of the most hopeful signs of the times, even allowing for the many charlatans among them, as well as some incompetence and inexperience, not to mention that some fearful governments and free-market international institutions clone NGOs to carry their message into forums where they are not themselves credible. Moreover, NGOs on all three continents draw upon the human resources of marginalized groups and are increasingly lead by women, thus offering a voice for those who are still often excluded from many of the loci of institutionalized power.
Today, NGOs are providing welcome services and analysis, filling a vacuum left by government and other large institutions, including universities, churches, and labour unions. Many NGOs are already very sophisticated in their analysis, their strategies, and even their national and international communication systems. It came as a surprise to me, for example, to discover that the development office managed by the Buddhist nun Leau-Yia Thih was ultramodern in its computer and communications capacities, as was the office of the Third World Network based in Penang, Malaysia. Moreover, NGOs are increasingly organizing networks and conferences to share and develop their ideas and to help facilitate communications among themselves. The Rethinking Human Rights Conference organized by JUST is just one example of this strategy for promoting change.
Many NGOs are adopting as their primary role the revitalization of civil society to challenge government monopoly of services. The principle of “subsidiarity” – that is, that public decisions should be taken at the lowest level of society at which they can effectively be taken – recently rediscovered by the European Community, is much in evidence. This approach can, of course, be abused by people who use it simply to justify downsizing government without regard for the availability of local competence and resources. Yet, NGOs adapt easily to Schumacher’s aphorism, “small is beautiful”; they often encourage multiplying small experimental projects rather than take the risk of leaving still more “white elephants” – huge skeletons of failed foreign-financed projects – in developing countries.
I find my own views on the significance of this explosion of NGOs strongly confirmed by Lester M. Salamon (1994, p. 109) of Johns Hopkins University in an article entitled The Rise of the Non-Profit Sector, in which he foresees that this “global associated revolution that may prove to be as significant to the latter twentieth century as the rise of the nation state was to the nineteenth.”
The growing conviction that harmonious relations between the human community and nature, as well as among people, are a requirement for sound ecology and global social justice is also pushing researchers to explore the inspirational teachings and historical experiences of all faith systems for resources that support a close relationship with nature. An abundance of such resources exist in all major religions; the Buddhist reverence for all life and the prayers of medieval Christian mystics such as Hildegard of Bingen and Francis of Assisi come to mind. In most cases, however, these teachings are not central to the practice of these traditions today. A growing understanding of spirituality being intimately connected to and located within nature bodes well for the mediation of human existence and nature. This approach of peaceful coexistence also augurs well for future cooperation between ecological groups and advocates of social justice.
Yet, the overall lack of enthusiasm among those interviewed for prioritizing ecological concerns was not really surprising; their approach tends to be pragmatic. Concerns for the poor and a higher degree of social justice are understandably more central to their preoccupations, and they still do not see richer countries as willing to help them meet these immediate needs. Clearly, development-aid funds are not correlated with the neediest countries. Debt service and closed domestic markets work dramatically in the opposite sense. Interviewees saw the contradictions in the approaches to these problems as being the most immediate concerns. Thus, although human development must work hand in hand with ecological concern in order to evolve a sustainable approach to development, those interviewed are simply waiting for more evidence on the part of richer nations of their sincerity for confronting these issues on a global basis.
Again and again, on all three continents, many interviewees were critical of universities and university-trained experts, especially foreigners, for not being a more creative force in their countries’ development process. Rather than Western-dominated economic dogma, the majority of interviewees look to a more practical kind of education that will stress individual and social responsibility and social management skills. These skills, they feel, will help to build up their currently underdeveloped civil societies and make people less dependent on government for their every need.
There were those among the interviewees who would have been satisfied if cultural and ecological factors were made endogenous in economic development analysis. But others were looking for a more fundamental reassessment of development policies and would find close affinity with Kenneth Arrow, Samuel Bowles, and Amartya Sen, who, in a recent memo addressed to the MacArthur Foundation4, informed the directors that:
...given the intellectual inertia of the peer review process at the major academic journals and funding sources, innovation can best be fostered by supporting people, networks, and institutions committed to promising new ideas rather than attempting to use the promise of support to convert those currently pursuing conventional approaches.... the long-term impact of their funding is likely to be greater if given to projects that give adequate attention to the theoretical lacunae underlying the current state of economics and does not overlook the development of a more adequate basic theory.
At this point, the three authors mention several of the weaknesses of the dominant paradigm emphasized by those interviewed.
Those more involved with ecological concerns would rather turn the economic paradigm on its head, along the lines suggested by Canadian economist Gail Stewart.5 She points out that we have embedded in our culture and our mind-set the fundamental error of subsuming the environment to human society and not human society to the environment. We are trying to bring the environment into economics with new pricing schemes rather than situating the entire economy within the environment, where it really belongs. In other words, the environment is not an important tilt on the economics playing field, it is the
4 An unpublished typewritten memorandum for the MacArthur Foundation, 23 December 1993. MacArthur Foundation, New York, NY, USA. 12 pp.
5 In an unpublished draft manuscript entitled, Ecological Development; The New Politics of Hope. A Contribution Towards a General Theory. Ottawa, 1993.
playing field on which all economics and politics are played! Not many seem to grasp easily or intuitively the profound Copernican revolution Gail Stewart is prompting on economists. But I believe, that like the astronomer, she will be proven right.
Finally, certain people, such as Karl Knutsson, a senior researcher with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), whom I chatted with in Florence, want to challenge current scientific methodology. He feels that this methodology uses abstract “frozen” concepts that excessively separate formal knowledge from constantly changing experience, and thus make it inadequate for analyzing many modern, complex, global realities. Thus, he is looking for alternative methodologies to complement the current approach. Knutsson suggests, for example, the use of “social gravity fields” – a new level of analysis between the individual (personal) and the abstract levels – to help focus the growing importance of interest groups in modern society. Others, such as the Santa Fe group of cross-discipline researchers in Texas, focus on “patterns of complexity” as a way to make their analyses more reflective of complex realities unreachable by current methods of analysis (Waldrop 1992, pp. 9-13).
Personally, I find all the approaches listed above promising. What is striking is that none of them are primarily ideological. All appear to be honest searches for a new paradigm or paradigms that can provide a more adequate analytic basis for policy decisions concerning global human development so that in the future their benefits will reach the poor as well as the rich.
These suggestions are made with the intention of helping development agencies reach beyond current development platitudes so that they may better fulfil their mandates.
From the course of this research, it appears that agencies like IDRC could set up a working group to rethink and to broaden their own definition of “research.” In this way, they can be and be seen to be, open to “nonconventional research” which is not traditionally rational or linear and which takes into consideration a people’s values and beliefs, both cultural and religious. This work is probably best done in informal workshops that bring experienced persons representing different cultures and intellectual disciplines together to work creatively without much fanfare. Several of those interviewed in the course of this study expressed a desire to participate in such a follow-up project.
A growing body of evidence and experience suggests that development projects, perhaps most particularly in Africa, are seen to fail because agencies and researchers are unwilling to engage patiently the deep religious and spiritual beliefs rooted in the extended family and the spirit world. Most of those interviewed expressed a strong hope to see research on the role that values and systems – religious, spiritual, and ethical – play in human development. Since UN agencies seem unable to approach the topic in its political milieu, most interviewees acknowledge that the entrepreneurs for this type of intervention would most likely come from outside of the UN system.
Here, I propose a very specific project: an informal, experienced group made up of some of the persons I interviewed could be brought together to articulate a congenial framework within which future research in this area could be undertaken. I suggest that first initiatives begin by focusing research on the African experience, where the problems of current development paradigms are most visible and where they most urgently need to be faced, if the poorest and most excluded peoples in African society are to participate in their own development.
I suggest that development agencies work directly with local people – with approaches similar to those used in many developing countries as well as in Canada by NGOs working directly with native peoples – to discover and reinforce those values in the local cultural and belief systems that have given the people their identities. It is these values that will shape and support the education and training – both economic and technological – required for people in developing countries to take responsibility for creating their own destiny.
Because working directly with local peoples, especially in foreign countries is difficult, organizations should work closely with NGOs which do work closely with local people. Smaller NGOs, as well as some indigenous religious groups and centres with good international connections are often well-equipped for this task and seem to have good records. By establishing a partnership role in the flourishing NGO world, agencies could assure an important place in the global development scene at a time when national governments are faltering in many of their traditional roles in development. By giving priority to helping strengthen the research capacity of local NGOs, agencies could also help groups to learn to work creatively with governments at all levels, in addition to their roles as protectors of the marginalized and as inciters of action. In this, agencies wanting to go overcome development platitudes would promote the principle of subsidiarity, helping to build up a responsible civil society which does not look to national government for its every need. In this regard, the encouragement of multiple, small locally centred projects is likely to produce more success stories than support for a few larger endeavours based on foreign models.
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I need not go into the conditions under which this research was undertaken. Whatever the limitations of the process, as recognized by Father Ryan himself, its methodology seems to me as valid and the results as telling as the usual polling system on which we rely in the absence of more systematic investigation. But I do share the view that the gender bias might deeply affect not so much the diagnosis, but the ability to project alternatives. Women are the best defenders of the traditional values: they are more knowledgeable, and especially aware of the coercive aspects of the conventional development models since they are often the first victims. I call this the “Jeanne d’Arc” symbol. If there is a follow-up to this study of values – which I hope very much there will be – we should definitely correct this overrepresentation of male informants in future undertakings.
The interviews of the people both at headquarters and in the field, the description of their backgrounds, and Father Ryan’s findings led me to the following appreciation of the issue.
There is a widespread concern, of which I have firsthand experience, that the current development strategies tend to ignore, often underestimate, and sometimes undermine cultural values or the cultural environment which are essential to healthy human development. After all, security, sustainability, and relative stability often depend on a system of values which has taken centuries to develop within a specific society. This system of values has more often than not taken into account the evolution of the environment, relationships with other societies, and the gradual introduction of new values dictated by new technology or adaptation of old values.
In this process of changing value systems, which may be at times gradual and slow, there are a number of serious deviations or excrescences. One of these is what I have termed the “adoration of the golden calf.” This occurs when people become attached to external forms of values or culture and then refuse to make the necessary changes to enhance the inner content of these cultural norms or the permanent message they convey.
Cultural values, including religions, prompt people to mobilize for certain achievements. Religions were born largely on values – justice, love, security, and charity. Then they proceeded to stratification, codes, and covenants with the divine to enhance their influence. Somehow, somewhere, sometime, these codes then became rigid laws and customs which are taken in and of themselves as values. The laws and customs become the “golden calves”!
The role of religious or cultural leaders, or reformers – spiritual governance in a sense – is of the utmost importance in the delicate and often slow process of custom and value reform. In answer to a question raised inter alia by Father Ryan, this explains why followers of the same faith express their common values in different fashions in different societies. Although they are all of the same creed, some adherents are more open to value adaptation than others and more apt to interact with new technology and new forms of development.
It is therefore important to look critically at traditional societies, realizing that people follow norms of behaviour and can be attached to outdated customs, laws, and myths which can constitute a serious resistance to healthy human development. In fact, these norms of behaviour and customs often obscure the real meaning of the values which they presume to protect; this can lead to serious consequences, to the point of cultural paralysis or suicide.
I return now to the question which IDRC is asking and which deals with the effectiveness of current development paradigms. It represents for me an interesting question, in light of what I have just said. We are in a sense asking ourselves whether we can delimit more clearly the responsibilities of both the development paradigms and the traditional norms of behaviour. What Father Ryan has revealed for us in his paper is the dilemma confronted by the people he met, who must make complex choices pertaining to these relationships.
These people are working within traditional societies trying to introduce development schemes based on paradigms believed to be technologically, rationally, and historically correct. And it does not seem to work; the traditional societies resist the introduction of these paradigms. But that resistance is not the only reason they fail.
We must also critically examine the development paradigm for answers. Cultural norms and values may be harnessed for development if the proposed paradigms can convincingly, harmoniously, and generously guide the process for adaptation and change. If the paradigms are not successful guides for this process and yet we continue to insist that the paradigms need no serious review and adaptation, then we are creating our own “modern golden calves” in direct confrontation with the traditional ones.
I submit that these “modern golden calves” can be equated with: secularism, individualism, materialism, paternalism, and marketism. I insist on the “ism” ending to stress the dogmatic and ideological dimensions of these approaches.
Secularism — A “secular” state, as such, is not particularly objectionable if it means that the state should not be under the control of a religious institution. Objections arise when the state attempts to exclude all religious references and to diminish religions and spiritual values as irrational myths and superstitions. People are asking their governments and their foreign partners to respect their beliefs, even if they do not share them, and are requesting that space and time be given for these mechanisms to play their role in integrating new values or new paradigms in development. The involvement of religious and spiritual leaders in explaining important changes would increase their acceptance. The vocabulary used to communicate, inform, train, and mobilize people would gain by borrowing from religious and spiritual vocabularies. For example, the Japanese commitment to their dead – the basis of Shintoism – plays an important role in the search for consensus.
Individualism — In the eyes of many people in the South and gradually in the North, the Western economic growth model is perceived as a threat to family cohesion, and to a sense of community belonging (especially in rural areas), and to social solidarity in general. So much pressure is put on individuals to seek self gratification and to detach themselves from their milieus – the larger family and community – that they become schizophrenic. They were not prepared by their education for such behaviour: they are called on to move, to strive for higher positions, but they are given no time or opportunity to see whether they can also help in the positive development of their own traditional, cultural milieu. They are called upon to be largely selfish, and to compensate by sending money to their larger families.
The Japanese have resolved the problem in a different fashion. They compel their employees to become a family, shifting the centre of gravity from the traditional family to the corporate family. Japanese solidarity is of a different nature, but it helps to reduce the evil effects of individualism.
In Southeast Asia, it seems that this negative dimension of the development paradigm has been partly held in check. A number of small and medium enterprises have a family base and have been comparatively successful. How did this happen? If IDRC decides to pursue this investigation, this phenomenon could very well be an important line of research.
Materialism — We all know about the invasion of the Western propensity for consumption into developing countries. In Senegal and elsewhere, the biggest advertisements are for Malborough cigarettes and Coca-Cola. This Western mindset is causing a terrible shock. Many people in developing countries are losing the traditional ways of feeding themselves, as well as other norms of behaviour. And this materialism is really what is affecting the natural environment. Introduced patterns of consumption multiply needs and nurture greed, obliging people to exploit the green around them in order to satisfy these newly perceived needs. Urbanization is spreading, largely as a result of materialism. People resent speeches on ecology because they do not understand, and they do not understand because the discourse is contradictory.
Paternalism — or “father knows best.” Experts, both foreigners and Western-trained nationals, take this dubious role toward problems in developing countries. Experts are often not allowed by their own institutions to take the time to listen and to learn from the local people how they perceive the issues of environmental and societal impact. Consequently, the experts must rely on official government advice and statistics. The World Bank itself recognizes its mistakes in this regard. In fact, the vice-president in charge of Africa acknowledged recently that a turnaround in the role of expertise is needed. This brings us to the theme of good governance, both national and international. The lack of good governance leads to all kinds of misunderstandings and to the abuse of power. Good governance means less paternalism and more transparency and participation, that is, a greater incorporation of choice, different voices, and ethics. Increased participation will help resolve some of the antagonisms arising from the intricate relationships between traditional values, with their codes and overlays, and development paradigms, with their own codes and overlays.
Marketism — A dogmatic approach to market economy tends to shake people’s confidence in appropriate interventions or regulations. The theoretical position is that governments should not interfere with the level playing field created by the market. But in reality, the corruption of the ruling elite often creates, in dubious and critical ways, other interferences with the market.
Studies, especially on Southeast Asia, now show that selective local, social interventions in these countries are closely associated with the high rate of growth in productivity and the economic take-off in the high performing Asian countries. While allowing for social integration, we must not confuse the issue of regulation in a way that would ignore or distort purposeful government interventions in market economics to make them sound and effective. The World Bank and IMF studies admit some correlation between local, social interventions and growth, but stress that it is difficult to establish statistical links between growth and any specific intervention. Perhaps institutions such as IDRC should engage in what Keynes called an “essay in persuasion.”
In conclusion, we have more and more evidence of antagonism, absence of harmony, or at least a deep misunderstanding between the current paradigms for development (as sometimes dogmatically interpreted and pursued by their proponents), and a range of resistance points or refractory norms in traditional societies, some of which are formal and obsolete, but of which many act as legitimate defence mechanisms. The manifestation of fundamentalism, religious and otherwise, is an expression of this antagonism. It expresses a growing dissatisfaction with the perceived unethical behaviour of the ruling elites, and their monopolization of the political, cultural, and economic power, especially as their behaviour seems reinforced by current development paradigms and their foreign proponents. To illustrate this point, I often use the example of the bazaar in Tehran which funded both the communist Tudeh Party and the fundamentalist party in order to express their opposition to the Shah and his monopolization of power. With the crisis of ideologies and the demise of the communist world, fundamentalism – both religious and cultural – is the new credo of people who feel insecure because they perceive, rightly or wrongly, that a threat to their values is a threat to their survival.
There are three general recommendations which Father Ryan has relayed to us, reminding us of their underlying importance:
1) Local people should be listened to and trusted more.
2) Local religious and ethical paradigms should be considered integral elements in designing development research projects.
3) The global ethic for human development should emerge from the beliefs and experience of people as lived, not as rationally deduced.
As I read these recommendations, I was reminded of a thesis proposed long ago by Max Weber, that the paradigms of capitalist development were largely inspired by the religious values and ethical behaviour heralded in the dawn of the era of “Reform.” The proposed interaction between religious and ethical values and economic systems is a vast field of research for IDRC!
Dr. Mohamed Sahnoun
Director, Earth Charter Program
Pearson Fellow, IDRC
I begin this section by noting some of the reflections shared with me by those who read the initial report in order that their comments may enrich my own. These reflections ranged from enthusiasm and fascination to annoyance and even anger, from a casual dismissal (“there is really nothing new here”) to a charge that by undermining “the Enlightenment,” the foundation of serious scientific research, I am opening the door to still greater chaos in the development field.
But even those who are upset cannot let go. The report seems, willy-nilly, to invite or even push readers to deeper and more critical reflection on questions that simply will not go away. The reflection of a long-time global leader in the social justice and environment debate echoes that of many others, “It [the report] contains some profoundly provoking insights, observations, and ideas which I seldom see referred to in the development literature, and never in the engaging and insightful way in which you presented it.”
Some fastened on more specific themes. A seasoned economist noted “the enormous distance” he witnessed at the September 1994 World Bank-IMF meeting in Madrid between the mind-set of the participants at the formal meeting and that of the participants at the NGO forum meeting at the other end of the street. A Jesuit who works with native peoples pointed out the irony that, in preaching their gospel of development, Westerners have really been preaching “a false god” in the name of science. A feminist was disappointed that women have not been consulted proportionately, and expressed her fears that an increased interest in traditional and religious values represents a backward step into the Middle Ages, a return to the repression of women. Two respondents felt that I was not taking seriously enough “the profound fatalism” found among Muslims in the Middle East, and wondered whether I was simply revisiting Max Weber’s thesis on the religious roots of the spirit of capitalism. One person pointed out how I had achieved a broad consensus by intentionally focusing the interviews on the inadequacy of the dominant development paradigm and thus had inevitably sacrificed a deeper insight into the different ways the various religions approach development. Another respondent wondered aloud why, given the great wealth and variety of religious values and systems, we do not witness more clearly their immediate influence daily in concrete situations.
In the following sections, I will touch on some of these themes again under the headings: 1) Without a vision, the people die; 2) The global free-market model revisited; and 3) New evidence of spirituality in traditionally secular areas. These sections are meant to be reflections on the topics, not comprehensive analyses of these themes. It would be impossible to address the concerns raised in an introductory document such as this. The focus of this project was to canvas the personal views of a number of knowledgeable people about the relationship between economic development and cultural and religious values, in order to gain an informal sense of its relevance for research. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of the responses show that there is, as Mohamed Sahnoun said, a vast field of research here for IDRC.
The intuition that initiated this present project was that, in the present climate of confusion and uncertainty, persons experienced in the development field would be willing to talk informally and freely with me about what relationship they see between development (embracing the cultural and natural sciences) and religious values and systems. Nevertheless, in Phase I, it still surprised me how readily IDRC professional staff, and then later some 188 experienced persons on three continents – strangers for the most part – were, without exception, willing to share with me frankly and often enthusiastically their personal experiences, convictions, and beliefs about how they see this question today. For me, at least, it is a telling sign of the times that so many individuals from such diverse backgrounds, disciplines, experiences, and beliefs, in so many corners of the globe, are profoundly questioning “the correct thinking” of our age. Their common insight is that the global free-market paradigm is neither viable ecologically in the long term, nor adequate, in the short term, to meet the basic needs of all peoples for human development.
Those interviewed are not ideologues and have no ready-made alternative to offer, but they are searching for broader alternative approaches to development, ones that include a critical handling of cultural and spiritual values. I say a critical handling because most of those interviewed have no illusions about how easily cultural and religious values can be frozen into external forms and institutions that betray their original meaning. They would agree with Mohamed Sahnoun: manifestations of cultural and religious values, like values found in the dominant economic paradigm – secularism, individualism, materialism, paternalism, and marketism – can become modern “golden calves.”
If people talk of seeking an alternative vision, it is because they see the global free-market model – through such agents as structural adjustment programs and uncontrolled transnational corporations (TNCs) – destroying local values and identities by slowly homogenizing them into narrow Western market values, and thus into a nonviable global future.
That is why we find that the Commission on Global Governance, in its recent report, Our Global Neighbourhood, affirming the need for “neighbourhood ethics” and “neighbourhood values” as the cornerstone of future global governance. The report (1995, p. 47) favourably quotes Barbara Ward as suggesting that “people have to see with new eyes and understand with new minds before they can truly turn to new ways of living.” The quotation continues:
The most important change that people can make is to change their way of looking at the world. We can change studies, jobs, neighbourhoods, even countries and continents and still remain much as we always were. But change our fundamental angle of vision and everything changes – our priorities, our values, our judgments, our pursuits. Again and again, in the history of religion, this total upheaval in the imagination has marked the beginning of a new life ... a turning of the heart, a “metanoia,” by which men [sic] see with new eyes and understand with new minds and turn their energies to new ways of living.
What people seem to be rejecting today – consciously or not – is exaggerated secularism that begins by setting up a dualism of convenience between matter and spirit, body and soul. This dualism separates religious faith and knowledge from “science,” and ends up, in practice, by denying the reality of all that is not measurable or marketable.
Some people are searching for “a new global ethic,” others simply for” a common good” or “social justice” ethics, and yet others for “a covenantal ethic.” But, for others, ethical bases are not enough. They look to a transcendent reference of religion and faith on which to base their committed action. They remain skeptical about the effectiveness of purely rational ethics to lead people to sustained commitment in action – especially where rational ethics is based on narrow individualistic premises.
In all these thrusts, it is primarily NGOs rather than governments that have and will have the initiative in building a sustainable, global, civic community. It goes without saying that NGOs, to be genuinely creative and effective, need to be rooted in the local cultures where they work, and not simply be messengers of their culture to foreign funding agencies or clones of their partners. In our present worldwide crisis in leadership, it seems that new leadership must come from the people themselves, who are often ahead of their leaders in realizing what is really happening in the world around them. Nongovernmental organizations are flourishing in many regions today largely because of the persevering energy, enthusiasm, and leadership of women. I believe that through NGOs, women in developing countries will become empowered to expand their central role in the development process, a role for which they are finally being publicly recognized.
For indigenous solutions and leadership we instinctively turn to NGOs of every type; at the Copenhagen Summit, NGOs – both Northern and Southern – were the most creative actors. Even traditional churches are turning to “small group communities” to renew older and more formal structures and institutions. This seems the way we must go. Small groups help people find roots and identity. Eventually they produce the creative leaders to build the new movements and institutions necessary to develop the human family in a future of peace, both with each other and with the environment.
There will be those who find my hopes for NGOs too sanguine. I invite them to look again at what is happening around us in almost every region of the world, in every aspect of social justice – the women’s movements, the human rights movements, and the environmental movements. The expanding interconnected communications systems between these groups, and between groups of groups, give them the appearance of having qualities similar to those of a living breathing global body!
I realize that IDRC asked me to be an advisor to this project because I have extensive training in both theology and economics. And I would be personally remiss, having asked others to share with me their values and beliefs, if I were not willing to share with readers my own value points of reference. The vision I bring to my double task is, I believe, Ignatian. My spirituality consists in persevering, with the help of God’s spirit, to learn to contemplate God – the divinity – present and active in all people and in all creation. In other words, I believe that the world is one. To use the felicitous expression of Jesuit paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1960), it is un milieu divin, a spirit world. God’s spirit dwells in, acts in, and sustains all creation and yet leaves humans free to make their own choices. Neither our individual, personal futures nor the future of the planet are predetermined or determined. I like the intuition of Teilhard de Chardin that the evolution we experience is not chaos, it is “directed chance.” Without fully understanding it, I am also at home with his hopeful vision of a growing global noosphere, that is, a sphere of human thinking that surrounds the globe encompassing consciousness, interaction, sympathy, mutual concern, and growth of genuine love. Not only a growing unity of brains, the noosphere represents also a growing unity of hearts. Perhaps the rich experience I have had interviewing people of differing backgrounds in many parts of the world gives some small witness to the existence of this mysterious phenomenon.
I resonate deeply with the apostle Paul’s vision of the whole of creation – nature and humankind – struggling impatiently to realize the fuller fruits of the Spirit. He writes, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”6
Teilhard de Chardin, the scientist, closer to the material world, echoes this same vision of how matter prods and purifies the human spirit in the spirit’s constant search for God in his “Hymn to Matter” (1965, pp. 68-71), a song of praise which integrates for him spirit and matter, body, and soul. He wrote:
Blessed be you, harsh matter, barren soil, stubborn rock: you who yield only to violence, you would force us to work if we would eat … you who, by constantly shattering our mental categories, force us to go ever further and further in our pursuit of truth … Blessed be you, mortal matter! Without you, without your onslaughts, without your uprootings of us, we should remain ignorant of ourselves and of God.
Personally, I believe that it is through the mediation of such spiritualities and global visions of social and ecological harmony that one can relativize “the golden calves,” of both religion and science and find meaning for our own struggles. In this way we gain those “new eyes” and “new mind” referred to by Barbara Ward.
We saw how most of those interviewed do not accept today’s dominant development model as capable of helping us shape a viable global future. They see the immense and growing influence of this model with its narrow market “rationality” – the individual maximization of “want-satisfaction” – spreading worldwide, as the generic form of all human organization. This socially impoverished conception of the individual is being promoted or sold as the “universal” model for all peoples. The linear, deterministic “progress” it promotes, as Vandana Shiva points out, is ultimately “monocultural.” Countries in need are given only two options: to adjust themselves structurally to fit into the prescribed G-7 model, or to be thrown out of all economic options for survival. (Shiva 1995, p. 12) The growing and blatant abuse of power by TNCs in taking out patents for repackaging previously developed indigenous knowledge nakedly reveals the extremes accepted as normal by governments of developed countries
6 Romans 8:22-23.
and international businesses working from this mindset. Just one example is the intellectual property rights granted to American and Japanese corporations for “discovering” certain products of the neem tree, a tree whose properties have been known for generations in India (Shiva 1995, p. 18).
The international economy is out of control, at least beyond the control of individual governments, if not of the larger TNCs! But instead of hastening to build up new global regulatory institutions, rich countries blindly urge one another to compete economically even as they play at the game of global political cooperation. This is a nonsense situation in which only the TNCs win, because their broader global knowledge and experience in many areas prevents their power from being seriously challenged. The matrix for the growth of this power is conveniently screened by the dominant economic paradigm, buried in the “correct” yet abstract thinking of the day. What people are now challenging is this growing and unaccountable power associated with concentrations of corporate knowledge and money.
People are not rejecting the many valid human insights and gains that stem from the Enlightenment. What is being widely challenged today is the basic assumption underlying much of Western science, namely, that human progress is linear and determined. For those who believe that “rationality” excludes all religious knowledge and inspiration, Professor Jerzy Wojciechowski of Ottawa University has a timely reminder. He pointed out to me how the sense of linear time, so crucial to Western science, derives uniquely from divine revelation in the Bible. Biblical revelation is, in fact, almost totally about a beginning and a foreseen end to the human story.
What is also being challenged in economic research is not the assumption of “rationality,” but rather the excessively narrow limitation of “rationality” imposed by homo oeconomicus – that is, a “rationality” limited to a maximization of individual desires and needs. A happy sign that some economists are now open to expanding their concept of “rationality” can be found in a recent article by Amartya Sen (1995), president of the American Economic Association, entitled, “Rationality and Social Choice.” In that article, he argues that “rationality” in economics must be expanded to include the fruit of the process of “value formation” that takes place in the process of democratic and community-style sharing and dialogue in society today.
In Nature of Economics, Robert Heilbronner (1995), similarly insists that Western economics should be and can usefully be applied only in circumstances and cultures where the preconditions of Western capitalism – the laws and customs of private property – prevail. Otherwise, we must look for different types of economics that better fit the laws, values, and customs of local situations.
What people fail to realize is that our narrow “fundamentalism” in economics, by threatening the culture and beliefs of local peoples can push them towards a counter “fundamentalism” that is often nourished and strengthened by ethnic feelings and religious beliefs. Today’s marketism makes it almost impossible for poor peoples to build a flourishing civic community and society that fosters social responsibility.
We have recent confirmation of this truth from an unexpected source, Peter Drucker, the guru of modern management. In an article entitled, “The Age of Social Transformation,” published in The Atlantic Monthly, he suggests that the traditional fundamental assumption in Western democracies – that the economic interests of groups must be used to integrate all other interests – is no longer tenable in an economy wherein knowledge is becoming the chief resource. Noneconomic interests, such as pluralism of values, make compromises very difficult. Drucker (1994, p. 78) writes,
Economic interests can be compromised, which is the great strength of basing politics on economic interests. “Half a loaf is still bread” is a meaningful saying. But half a baby, in the biblical story of the judgment of Solomon, is not half a child. No compromise is possible. To an environmentalist, half an endangered species is an extinct species.
Willy-nilly, it seems, we are being forced to take human values – moral, spiritual, and cultural – into serious consideration. Drucker attempts only a generic answer of how we might approach this revisioning. He suggests that “social organizations” that are “the community” will have to take “social responsibility” for working on these new problems and challenges of modern society.
While this insightful conclusion seems to come to Drucker almost as an afterthought, thinkers such as rebel economist Herman Daly (1989), begin by pushing this dilemma to its logical conclusion. Daly wants us to shift our perspective from considering individuals as the central actors in economic life to considering “individuals-in-community” as the key players in modern society. His proposed shift would recapture the original conviction of Adam Smith that the market is so powerful as a system that it can function humanely only if the moral force of shared community values acts as a necessary restraint on it.
Professor John O’Neil (1994) of York University, in Toronto, carries Daly’s shift in perspective still further. He suggests that we need an alternative social theory to provide what the present Lockean “social contract theory” cannot provide because its cult of individualism ignores social responsibility. Instead, O’Neil recommends “a social covenant theory,” in which adult individuals do not “contract” the reality of society, but rather are born and raised into a social membership of families, nations, and the planet, and as such inherit a social endowment as “stewards” of society and Earth. Individuals, therefore, are bound together by a covenant of care. O’Neil arrived at this approach through his realization that, in our current contract society, only adults can be party to the social contract; children are merely “consumer goods.” And today we clearly observe that as market competition intensifies, the lot of children round the world worsens! And yet only by taking children as a social priority of the community can society find an enduring solution to the pressing problems of intergenerational social injustice and ecological degradation. From this perspective, a civic commons must be above a market contract. O’Neil’s covenant theory would, of course, provide a still firmer foundation for the “global neighbourhood” ethic presently being canonized by the Commission on Global Governance. Happily, this social theory also echoes the strong tradition found in the developing world of giving priority to family and community needs over the needs of individuals.
Perhaps one of the most convincing signs for hope for the future is the public evidence of more and more people turning from hubris to humility, and to an examination of the possibilities of spirituality, as they contemplate our alternatives for shaping a common future on this planet. Two recent international meetings made this point well.
The Parliament of the World Religions, held in Chicago, from 28 August to 5 September 1993, brought together some 8 000 people of various beliefs and intellectual disciplines from around the world. Its major theme was the role of religion and spiritual life in relation to the critical global issues of our day. Dr. Gerald Barney, a physicist and policy analyst and now executive director of the Millennium Institute, in an impassioned opening presentation, acknowledged the growing urgency for a new global orientation, saying,
… we can no longer guide our countries and our corporations because we no longer know what “development” is. We no longer know how to distinguish “progress” from “failure.” … we are now a species without a vision. We cannot act together because we no longer know our goal.7
Barney then asked religious leaders “to form a partnership with all humankind to dream a dream that can change our hearts and so help discover a new
7 Unpublished opening presentation entitled Global 2000 revisited: what shall we do? Presented at Parliament of World Religions, 28 August to 5 September 1993, Chicago, IL, USA.
development paradigm whereby all humans can begin to live sustainably, justly, and humanly on Earth.”
The organizers of the Parliament of World Religions successfully launched an initial declaration on ethics, Towards a Global Ethic, prepared by theologian Hans Kiing. It was an elaboration of two fundamental demands found in all religions: every human being must be treated humanely and what you do not wish done to you, do not do to others. It included commitments to certain basic principles of ethics: a commitment to a culture of nonviolence and respect for life; a commitment to a culture of solidarity and a just economic order; a commitment to a culture of tolerance and a life of truthfulness; and a commitment to a culture of equal rights and partnership between men and women. As attractive and potentially useful this articulation of a global ethic may prove to be, however, it is unlikely to provide the same impetus to action for those who are of a deep, fundamental religious faith as for those who put their faith in an secular ethical practice.
The second promising international meeting was the recent World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen. It focused on the growing conviction that human beings must be at the centre of any truly human development and that all development policies should be judged by the simple question: “What is happening to the people?” What struck many observers at this Summit was how often in the debate speakers resorted to religious language to make their points. Perhaps, this should not have been a matter for surprise, since there had been an official UN preparatory meeting entitled, Seminar on Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Social Progress, held in Bled, Slovenia, on 30 October 1994 (see UN 1994). Speakers at the Summit pleaded that we finally come to accept and act on the conviction that all people form a single human family responsible for one another. Without this conviction, they claimed, progress toward the goal of social justice will always be slow, because it will lack heart. The poor financial commitments flowing from the Copenhagen Summit demonstrated, however, that the world’s influential countries still lack heart and so also the political will to take on bold new initiatives.
Another piece of evidence of the growing awareness of religious influences can be found in an unexpected source. The recent book, Religion: The Missing Dimension of Statecraft (Johnston and Sampson, 1994), documents the heavy cost the USA has paid in recent decades for its diplomats’ “Enlightenment prejudice.” On principle, this approach has always denied any influence of religion in foreign policy analysis. Military strategist, Edward Luttwack, described the situation well in his chapter, “The missing dimension.” He wrote: “Policy makers, diplomats, journalists and scholars who are ready to overinterpret economic causality; who are apt to dissect social differentiations most finely, and who will minutely categorize political affiliations are still in the habit of disregarding the role of religion …” (Luttwack 1994, p. 9). Their selective focus even excluded the impact of religion in the Middle East! Thus even hardheaded American diplomats and foreign-policymakers are finally ready to acknowledge that the influence of religion must enter into their own analysis. Significantly, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, and Zbigniew Brzezinski all endorse the book, which seems to have been largely organized by the Center for Strategic Studies in Washington and prepared by insiders.
Religion also parallels the process of development in the developing countries through a growing awareness that to be enduring both religious teachings and development strategies need to be inculturated in the local peoples’ cultures, not simply layered on top of local cultural practices, or substituted for them. In Africa, for example, theologians and development researchers are presently exploring how to integrate the deep reverence for ancestors and the world of spirits into their Gospel teachings and their development initiatives, respectively. It is, indeed, high time that professionals admit that both Christianity and development processes have long been overwesternized, and have often been blind to significant positive values already existing in local cultures and beliefs.
Today, people representing both science and religion are putting aside some of their past hubris. Humbled and bruised from overstretching their respective limits, many in each sphere are ready to listen and learn from each other to exorcize their respective “golden calves.” An encouraging recent sign of these changes is that in their revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, members of the American Psychiatric Association no longer consider religious belief as pathological, that is, evidence of delusion, immaturity, escapism, or neurosis (Early 1995, p.20). Moreover, scientists present at the Parliament of World Religions were seeking a common ground where science and religion could work together to humanize technology and to free science from its idolatry of the dynamic of international technology.
On the other hand, religion has spent centuries coming to terms with new scientific discoveries. But only in the last century have religious leaders learned to dialogue with one another and to discover truth and beauty in their different beliefs and practices. Most now accept and defend as basic the right of all to freedom of religion, thought, and personal conscience, as affirmed in the International Bill of Human Rights. The Catholic Vatican II Council, in the 1960s, was a helpful step toward this goal, clearly teaching the right of freedom of religious conscience for all and encouraging dialogue and cooperation among world religions and other Christian denominations. Increasing awareness of the importance of religion and values in human development, and the recognition of other systems of belief, bode well for creative interaction between areas long considered to be solely secular or solely religious.
Many believe that fear will be the only motive strong enough to bring about the radical changes needed. And this seems to be the message behind Barbara Ward’s haunting dictum: “The scientist and the sage, the man of learning and the poet, the mathematician and the saint repeat to the human city the same plea and the same warning: ‘We must love each other or we will die’” (ul Haq 1994, p. 16; see also Ward 1976). But looked at more closely, Ward’s comment contains an even more fundamental point. It is not just fear of death or annihilation that will move us; fear does not provide answers. In order to find the answers we seek, we must truly learn to love one another, to seek hope and solutions in a vision of a gradually emerging self-conscious planet like the noosphere of Teilhard de Chardin, to take on the responsibilities of a radically different perspective. And we seek those answers because having lived lives based on the pursuit of power, material comfort, and scientific knowledge, we know them to be unfulfilling in the deepest sense and ultimately finite. To confront bravely both the external and internal crises of our modern world, to wrestle out answers based on other perspectives and world views, to take the hand of the infinite, we must love!
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Taipei, Taiwan: 20–24 February 1994
At Fu-Jen University:
Professor Wu Bing-Eng, PhD. Dean, College of Management.
Professor Shang-Chi Gong, PhD. Director of Graduate School of Finance.
Assoc. Professor, Jen-Lung Kao, PhD. Head, Department of Business Administration.
Professor Shirley Shiu-Fang Yu, PhD, Monetary Theory.
Professor Yu-Chao, PhD, Engineering Management. Dept of Business Administration.
Yves Raguin, S.J. and Yves Camus, S.J. Ricci Institute for Chinese Studies.
Beda Liu, S.J., PhD, Anthropologist. Director, China Research Center, Fu-Jen University.
Leau-Yia Thih, Buddhist nun; Director, Ling-Jiou San Prajna Cultural and Educational Foundation.
Luis Gutheinz, S.J., Convenor of Two Ecumenical Research Teams on The Quality of Life in the Bioregion of Taiwan, 1980–1991. (Final Report: Quality of Life in the Bioregion of Taiwan, January, 1994).
Manila, Philippines: 25 February – 2 March 1994
Teresita C. Del Rosario, PhD, Social Anthropology. Professor at Asian Institute of Management.
Mary Racelis, PhD, Sociology/Anthropology. Ford Foundation Representative.
Romana de los Reyes, PhD, Sociocultural Anthropology. Director, Institute of Philippine Culture.
Cristi Marie C. Nozawa. Executive Director, The Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources.
Antonio J. Ledesma S.J. Director, South East Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute, Cagayan de Oro City.
Bienvenido Nebres, S.J., PhD, Mathematics. President, Ateneo de Manila University.
Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., DL. Former President of Ateneo University, and personal advisor to former President Aquino.
Noel D. Vasquez, S.J., PhD (Sussex University on Labour Organizations). National Superior of Philippine Jesuits.
Ismael Zuloaga, S.J. President of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia; Former representative of the Jesuit General for China.
Orara O. Salvador, S.J. Director, Social Order Institute.
Jack Carrol, S.J., PhD, Sociology. Director, Institute on Church and Social Issues; Editor of popular publication: Intersect; The Intersectorial Communicator).
Bishop Cisco Claver, S.J., PhD, Anthropology. Influential retired Jesuit bishop; President of Philippine Bishops’ Commission on Social Justice.
Jakarta, Indonesia: 2–4 March 1994
Habib Chirzin. Editor-in-Chief, Mizan, Islamic Forum of Indonesia for World Culture and Civilization; Director, (Ecumenical) Forum on Peace and Development Ethics Studies.
Alan H. Feinstein and Chip Fay. Program Officers on Environment, Ford Foundation.
Tony Kennedy. (Cdn) Program Officer, UNICEF.
John Dijkstra, S.J. Life-long inspiration of BINA SWADAXA, a community self-reliance development agency (successor to Pancasila Farmers’ Association).
Franz Magnis-Suseno, S.J. Professor of Ethics, Catholic University; specialist in Islamic studies and dialogue.
F.X. Danuwinata, S.J. Specialist in Buddhist and Islamic studies and dialogue.
Yogyakarta, Indonesia: 4–6 March 1994
Dr. Frederick Bunnell. Specialist in international relations, Department of Political Science, Vassar College, NY. On sabbatical studying the emergence of NGOs in Indonesia.
Rev. Romeo Mangunwidjojo. Japanese priest, architect, novelist. His thinking and writing is focused on intercultural relations in Indonesia.
Michael Sastrapraledja, S.J. Rector, Catholic University. General Secretary Indonesian Philosophical Society; Member of Council of Research on Values and Philosophy, Washington DC.
Jim Spillane, S.J., PhD, Economics. Director, Sanata Dharma Research Centre.
Theo Gieles, S.J., PhD. Head, Dept of Economics and Development, Catholic University; author of most teachers’ manuals in this field in Indonesia.
Bride Susanto, S.J., PhD, Anthropology. Researcher, Sanata Dharma Research Centre.
Singapore, Republic of Singapore: 6–8 March 1994
Randy Spence. Economist, Regional Director IDRC, Southeast and East Asia.
Stephen Tyler, PhD, City Planning. Senior Regional Program Officer, Environmental Policy, IDRC.
Annette J. Stark, PhD. Principal Regional Program Officer, Health Sciences, IDRC.
John D. Graham, PhD. Regional Program Officer, Environmental and Natural Resource Management, IDRC.
Arun Abraham. Senior Regional Program Officer, Science, Technology, and Innovation Management; Corporate Affairs and Initiatives, IDRC.
David Glover, PhD, Economist.
Penang, Malaysia: 8–9 March 1994
Chin Saik Yoon. Publisher, Southbound.
Third World Network Staff. Editors of Third World Resurgence. J. Rajamoorthy, legal specialist on human rights sat in for the Director, Martin Khor Kok Peng, who was out of the country.
Bangkok, Thailand: 10–12 March 1994
Dr. Gothom Arya. Buddhist, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University.
Dr. Jacques Amyot. Retired founder of the Social Research Institute at Chulalongkorn University; first IDRC Regional Director in Singapore office.
Dr. Jingjai Hanchanlash. Former IDRC Regional Director, (limited to an enthusiastic phone call, because of conflicting shedules and commitments.)
Dr. Prawase Wasi. Buddhist. Siriraj Hospital. Very respected, knowledgeable, and active in all that touches on public health in Southeast Asia.
Chaiwat Thirapantu. Director of Project and Program Development for the Human and Natural Resources Development Association.
Sheldon Shaeffer. Newly arrived to work with UNICEF.
Dr. Uthai Dulyakasem, Buddhist, Anthropology/Sociology. Director, Research and Development Institute, Silpakorn University.
Dwane Hallow Horn Bear. Chief of North American Dakota Indians, in Thailand to compare experiences with aboriginal tribes.
Jean Barry, S.J., PhD, Psychology/Counselling. Presently responsible for training regional coordinators of Thailand’s AIDS program.
Colombo, Sri Lanka: 13–15 March 1994
Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne. Buddhist. President, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement. Centre for Society and Religion. In absence of the Director, Tissa Balasyria, OMI, I met with his assistant, Mrs. Bernadeen Silva, and the Executive Secretary, Newton Fernando.
Dr. Godfrey Goonetilleke. Buddhist/Baptist. Director, Sri Lanka Centre for Development Studies, also known as Marga Institute.
Hewage Jayasena. Buddhist. Director, Buddhist Socio-Economic Development Institute; longtime member of Society for International Development (SID).
Aloysius Pieris, S.J., PhD (Doctorate in Buddhist Studies granted by Sri Lankan Buddhist scholars, under supervision of University of London). Director, Centre of Research and Encounter (primarily with Buddhists); author of An Asian Theology of Liberation.
Madras, India: 15–16 March 1994
Lakshmi Krishnamurti. Executive Trustee, Satyamurti Centre for Democratic Studies.
Ignatius Hirudayan, S.J. Director, Inter-Faith Dialogue Centre (with Hindus), Aikiya Alayam.
Bombay, India: 17–18 March 1994
Dr. M.J. Manohar Rao. Hindu. Professor of Economics, University of Bombay.
Professor Avadhoot Nadkarni. Dept. of Economics, St. Xavier College.
Dr. Jiban K. Mukhopadhyay. Senior Economist, Dept. of Economics and Statistics, DES, Tata Services Ltd.
Ernest Fernandes. Assistant Director, Xavier Institute of Management.
Dr. S. Parasuraman. Professor, Unit for Rural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Studies; current intermediary between local peoples and government officials on controversial Narmada dam project.
Debi Goenka. Director, Bombay Environmental Action Group.
Paul Vaz, S.J. Professor of Development Management at National University; also consultant to UNDP for evaluating grassroots projects; Director, Seva Niketan, a welfare and self-help agency in central Bombay.
M.V. Kamata. Hindu. Longtime senior columnist for the Times of India, based for several years in New York.
New Delhi, India: 19–22 March 1994
Vijay Pande. Regional IDRC Director for South Asia.
Dr. Cherla B. Sastry. Principal Program Officer, Forestry Asia; Environment and Natural Resources Management.
Brian M. Belcher. Principal Economist, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR).
Aung Gyi, PhD. Principal Programme officer, (Water and Resources), Environment and Natural Resources Management, IDRC.
Michael Loevinsohn, PhD. Principal Program Officer, Environmental Policy and its Implications, IDRC.
V. Ramalingaswami, Professor Emeritus. All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences; IDRC Board Member; consultant to UNICEF.
Anil Agarwal. Director, Centre for Science and Environment, India’s equivalent to Lester Brown and World Watch.
Ashok Khosla. Co-Director, Development Alternatives. Internationalist searching for alternatives to the accepted development model.
Dr. Kamla Chowdhry, PhD (Harvard School of Business). Hindu. Retired from an extensive career in the world of unions and business management. Her interest is now focused on ecology.
Dr. Shiv Vishwanothan. Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.
Varkey Perekkatt, S.J. President of South Asian Jesuit Assistancy.
John Chathanatt, S.J., Theologian and Ethicist; author of Liberation Theology: A Dialogue between Gandhi and Guttierez; manager of Vidyjajoti Journal of Theological Reflection.
Soosa Arockasamy, S.J., Biologist/Theologian. Chief Editor, Vidyjajoti Journal of Theological Reflection.
Paul de la Guerivierre, S.J., Economist. Director, Indian Social Institute.
Walter Fernandez, S.J., PhD, Sociology. Indian Social Institute, specialist on aboriginal peoples.
Rudolphe Heredia, S.J., PhD, Sociology. Research Director at Indian Social Institute, specialist in ecology.
Kathmandu, Nepal: 23–24 March 1994
Dr. Kanak Mani Dixit. Editor, Himal; Chairman, Editorial and Publishing Committee.
Professor Pei Shengji, Ethnobotany. Chinese citizen. Specialist on relationship between ethics/religion/culture and biodiversity. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
Ludwig Stiller, S.J., PhD, Economist. Human Resources Development Centre. Specialist on Planning for People — the experience of Nepal.
John Locke, S.J., PhD (Buddhism in Nepal). Human Resources Development Centre, doing ongoing research on Buddhism in Nepal’s history and present development.
Paris, France: 26–29 April 1994
Jeanne Damlamian. Program Specialist, Bureau for Coordination of Environmental Programmes.
Maté Kovacs. Chef de la Section des Politiques Culturelles, General Director of Unesco’s recent study: Dimension culturelle du développement; vers une approche pratique, April 1994.
Claude Fabrizio, editor of the above study.
Christine von Furstenberg, Specialist in epistemology and multidisciplinary approaches to research.
Jean Yves Calvez, S.J. PhD, Political Science. Editor, Revue Etudes, Paris; professor at I’Institut d’études économiques et sociales, Paris.
Henri Madellin, S.J. PhD, Economist. Aûmonier national du mouvement des cadres et dirigeants Chrétiens, Paris.
Frank Chaigneau, S.J. Director, La Table de Cana (a large rehabilitation and training centre to find employment in the food industry for ex-prisoners, refugees, and handicapped persons).
Michel Fedou, S.J., PhD. Professor of World Religions; also participant in Christian-Muslim dialogue in Paris area.
Alain Heilbrunn. General Delegate for Central Europe, Total [Oil], Paris.
Jan Kerkoffs, S.J., PhD. Professor Emeritus of sociology and religion, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
Rome, Italy: 26–29 May 1994
Evening Carrefour with the following:
Gerry O’Connell. Executive Member, Amnesty International.
Michael Czerny, S.J. Director, Secretariat for Social Justice, Jesuit Curia.
Mark Raper, S.J. Director, International Refugee Services, Jesuit Curia.
Tom Michel, S.J. Specialist in Islamic Studies for the Vatican; Director, Secretariat for Ecumenism, Jesuit Curia.
Florence, Italy: 30 May 1994
Dr. Karl Eric Knutsson. Senior Researcher, International Child Development Centre, UNICEF.
Amman, Jordan: 30 April – 3 May 1994
Bishop Ambroise Aujo. Chaldean Bishop of Syria.
Dr. Leila Sharaf. Former Minister of Culture; Member of the Arab Thought Forum; active outspoken Muslim; wife of the former prime minister, and cousin of King Hussein of Jordan.
Dr. Ali Oumil. Secretary General, Arab Thought Forum.
Clarence Burby, S.J., Psychologist. Citizen of Iraq; worked most of his life in Iraq and Syria. Very knowledgeable about Islam.
Cairo, Egypt: 4–11 May 1994
Eglal F. Rached, PhD. Senior Progam Specialist, Environment and Natural Resources Division, IDRC.
Gilles Cliche, PhD. Senior Program Officer, Information Sciences and Systems, IDRC.
Magdy M. Garas. Senior Officer, Caritas-Egypt.
Feddia Haddad. Teacher of literacy program for young girls, Caritas-Egypt.
Dr. Aziza Hussein. President of National Steering Committee of NGOs for Cairo International Conference on Population; also Director, Family Planning Society, Cairo.
Dr. El Sayed Yassin. Director, Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Al-Ahram Foundation; Former Secretary General, Arab Thought Forum.
Gerald R. Skinner. Minister-Counsellor, Canadian Embassy; married to an Egyptian Muslim and a longtime counsellor to Canadian Embassy in Moscow.
Dr. Ahmed Kamal Abou El Magd. Faculty of Law, Cairo University; Muslim intellectual; advisor to World Bank.
Christian Van Nispin, S.J., theologian. Expert in Islamic tradition and teaching, and participant in Christian-Islamic dialogue.
Maurice Martin, S.J. Librarian, College de la Sainte-Famille; specialist in Islamic history and politics, especially for Egypt and Lebanon.
George Agaiba. Director of Justice and Peace, Egypt, organized ecumenically across churches and religions of Egypt.
Steve Ronian, S.J. Citizen of Iraq. Staff of Caritas-Egypt.
William Siddam, S.J. A native of an upper Nile village, where his family still lives; now works with Egyptian youth.
Samir Marios. Director, Copt Orthodox Center for Social Thought and Communication.
Nairobi, Kenya: 11–16 May 1994
Dr. Eva Rathgeber, Regional Director, IDRC.
Titus Adeboye. Anglican priest. Coordinator of African Technical Policy Studies Network (ATPS); former Minister of Agriculture, Nigeria.
Dr. Hartmut H. Krugmann. Physicist, Principal Program Officer, Environment and National Resources Division, IDRC.
Dr. Osita M. Ogbu. Economist; Senior Regional Program Officer, Economic and Technology Policy Program, IDRC; former staff person with World Bank.
Dr. Terry Ryan. Economist; Economic Secretary to the Ministry of Finance; Professor of Economics, University of Nairobi.
Peter Henriot, S.J., PhD, Political Science. Director, Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection, Lusaka, Zambia; former Director of the Center of Concern, Washington, DC; Advisor to Zambian Bishops on issues of social justice at recent African Synod.
Cecil McGarry, S.J., Theologian. Professor at Hekima Theological College; Peritus to African Bishops at recent African synod.
Harare, Zimbabwe: 16–18 May 1994
Cosmas Wakatoma. National Director, Catholic Development Commission, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference.
Dr. Marshall Murphree. Anthropologist, Centre for Applied Social Sciences, University of Zimbabwe.
Dr. M.F.C. Bourdillon. Professor of Anthropology, University of Zimbabwe.
Roland von Niddon, S.J. Director, Silveira House (a major network of facilities for training rural people in living, manual, organizational, and political skills).
Michael Hanly. Irish volunteer; English teacher; Editor of popular publications for Silveira House.
Francis Ckhirwonga. Director of Training Program at Silveira House.
Abidjan, Cote d’lvoire: 19–21 May 1994
Réné Roy, S.J., Social Management. Director, Institut africain pour le développement économique et social (INADES, African institute for economic and social development).
Michel Lambott, S.J., Agriculturalist. INADES-FORMATION (a network of rural formation facilities organized in ten African countries).
Michel Guery, S.J., Anthropologist. Director of a program to rehabilitate street kids, to provide them with apprenticeship training and jobs in small, local artisanal enterprises.
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: 21–23 May 1994
Professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo. African historian; Director and Founder of Centre for African Development Studies.
Evening carrefour with the following:
Joseph Parcouda. Economist; President of the Cathedral Parish Council.
Songre Ambroise. Coordinator of Archdiocesan activities.
Alidou Ouedgraoud. Muslim; Judge; President of the InterAfrican Union on Human Rights.
Paul Ismael Ouedruago. President of Fondation Jean Paul II pour le Sahel.
Joseph Compaore, S.J., Social Psychologist.
Luc Antoine Boumard S.J., and Joel Roumeas, S.J. Both longtime workers in rural development programs in Chad.
Cardinal Paul Zoungrana. Archbishop of Ouagadougou, just returned from the African Synod in Rome.
Dakar, Senegal: 23–25 May 1994
Youssou Ndiaye. Director, Institut supérieur de management (Higher institute of management), University of Senegal.
Mamadou Diouf. Program Officer (Research), Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA).
Marie-Angélique Savané, PhD, Sociology. Team Leader, Country Support Team, UNFPA; member of Board of Governors, IDRC.
Professor Mallick Ndiaye, PhD, Sociology. Dept of Philosophy, University of Senegal.
Gérald Bourrier, Regional Director, IDRC.
Réal Lavergne, PhD, Economist. Senior Program Director, IDRC.
Caracas, Venezuela: 13–17 June 1994
Anthony Aguirre, S.J., Economist. Director of Interdisciplinary Research, Andres Bello Catholic University; President Elect of National Academy Social Science; former Research Director at Ministry of Finance.
Luis Ugalde, S.J., Social Historian. Rector, Andres Bello Catholic University; former Director, Institute de Investigaciones economicas y sociales (Institute of economic and social research).
Professor Eduardo Ortiz. Economist; Director, Instituto de Investigaciones economicas y sociales (Institute of economic and social research), Andres Bello Catholic University.
Ligia Bolivar. Sociologist; Director, Programa Venezolano de Educacion-Accion en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA, Venezuelan program of action-education in human rights).
Arturo Sosa, S.J., Sociologist. Director, Centro Gumilla et Ephrem SIC (Jesuit Centre for socioeconomic research and action, working primarily with the poor in city barrios); member of Episcopal Commission on Relations between Bishops and Government.
Carmen García Guadilla. Psychologist; Centro Estudios del Desarrollo (CENDES, Centre for Development Studies), Central University of Venezuela.
Dr. Heinz R. Sonntag. Sociologist; Director, CENDES; President, Asociación Latinoamericana de Sociología (Latin American sociological association).
Dr. Chi-vi Chen. Economist; Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences, Economics and Business, Andres Bello Catholic University. Significant experience of business and academic life in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 17–21 June 1994
Frank Ivern, S.J., Sociologist. Jesuit Provincial; former Director of the Jesuit Secretariat for Social Justice, Rome; former Director of IBRADES, the Brazilian Jesuit centre for socioeconomic research and action.
Paulo Antonio Abreux, S.J., Economist, IBRADES.
Marcello Azevedo, S.J., Anthropologist/Philosopher. Director, IBRADES.
Thais Corral, Director, Rede de Defensa da Especie Humana (REDEH).
Santiago, Chile: 21–24 June 1994
Gonzalo Arroyo, S.J., Economist. Former advisor to President Allende and member of the group, Priests for Socialism; Vice-Director of ILADES (Jesuit Centre for socioeconomic research) and of the review, Mensaje.
Professor Pilar Cereceda Troncoso. Geographer; Director, Institute of Geography, Catholic University of Chile; Associate with IDRC on “fog” project.
Dr. Jose J. Brunner. Sociologist; President, Consejo Nacional de Television (National council of television); formerly with Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLASCO); Board Member of IDRC.
Sergio Molina. Economist; Director, Banco Del Desarrollo (Development bank); former Minister of Planning and of Finance.
Marcela Gajardo. Interdisciplinary Education; Government agency for International Cooperation (AGCI); formerly associated with FLASCO.
Carlos Massad. Economist; Minister of Health; formerly with the International Monetary Fund.
Dr. Eugenio Tironi. Sociologist; Chairman of the Board of SUR Profesionales (Centre of management training for public employees, especially at the municipal level).
Martin Hopenhayn. Philosopher; senior staff person at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL).
Joseph Ramos. Engineer/Economist; senior staff person in charge of articulating CEPAL’s “Growth with Equity.” approach to development.
Rene Cortazar. Economist with CIEPLAN (Public Planning Centre); until the recent election, Minister of Labour.
Mario Zanartu, S.J., Economist. Professor of Economics and Ethics at ILADES.
Dr. Jaime Ruiz-Tagle. Sociologist; Executive Director of the union-related Programa de Economia del Trabajo.
Patricio Cariola, S.J., Education. Director of Centro de Investigacion y Desarrollo de la Education (CIDE, Centre of education research and development).
Montevideo, Uruguay: 24–28 June 1994
IDRC Regional Office:
Anthony D. Tillett. Economist; IDRC Regional Director; former Executive Director, Lester Pearson Institute for International Development, Dalhousie University, Halifax.
Fay Durrant. Program Officer, Information and Communications Systems Networks, IDRC.
Mario Torres. Sociologist; Program Officer, Social Sciences Division, IDRC.
Silvio Gomez, MD. Program Officer, Health Sciences Division, IDRC.
Carlos O. Sere. Agricultural Economics Consultant, soon to join the IDRC regional staff
Dr. Carlos H. Filgueira. Sociologist; Director, Centro de Informaciones y Estudios del Uruguay (CIESU, Uruguay Information and Study Centre).
Dr. Jose Arocena. Sociologist; Dean of Social Sciences, Catholic University of Uruguay.
Dr. Nea Filgueira. Sociologist; Director, Grupo de Estudios sobre la Condicion de la Mujer en el Uruguay (GRECMU, Study group on the condition of women in Uruguay).
Dr. Alma Espino. Economist; Executive Secretary, Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios sobre Desarrollo Uruguayo (CIEDUR, Interdisciplinary centre of studies for development).
Juan Luis Segundo, S.J., Theologian. Cofounder of liberation theology in Latin America.
Lima, Peru: 28–30 June 1994
Vincente Santuc, S.J., Philosopher. Dean of Philosophy, Faculty ESPEL, ‘Antonio Ruiz de Montoya;’ Coordinator of Jesuit Intellectual Apostolate in Peru.
Juan J. Wicht, S.J., Economist. Director, Research Center, University of the Pacific.
Rev. Gustavo Guttierez, Theologian/Pastor. Cofounder of liberation theology in Latin America.
Francisco Sagasti. Industrial Technology and Development; Principal Researcher at Grupo de Analisis del Desarrollo (GRADE, Development analysis group). Consultant to President of IDRC.
Dr. Denis Sulmont. Sociologist; Dean of Social Sciences, Catholic Pontifical University of Peru.
Eduard Grillo Fernandez. Agronomist; Director, Programa Andinode Tecnologias Campesinos (PRATE, Andean program for rural technologies).
Felipe MacGregor, S.J., Educator. Director, Instituto de la Paz (Institute of peace) at University of the Pacific, researching the incidence of violence in Latin America; member of the Council of the United Nations University.
Bogota, Colombia: 1–6 July 1994
Humberto Rojas. Rural Sociologist, recently retired from the regional office of UNICEF; formerly under contract with IDRC.
Francesco de Roux, S.J., Economist. Researcher; Advisor to the Episcopal Conference on peace and violence; former Director of Centre for socioeconomic research and action (CINEP).
Gabriel Izquierdo, S.J., Anthropologist. Director of CINEP; longtime researcher and organizer of integral development among a group of 25 000 peasants on the north coast of Colombia.
Dr. Mario Calderon. Sociologist; Researcher with CINEP on culture and environment in relation to peasant communities; also researcher on the Catholic church and culture in Colombia.
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Dr. William F. Ryan, S.J., has been involved extensively in the social and ethical dimensions of development in Canada and overseas for many years. He holds a master’s degree in labour relations from St. Louis University, a licentiate in theology from College St. Albert, Louvain, and a doctorate in economics from Harvard University. He was founding director of the Center of Concern in Washington, DC, a board member of the North-South Institute from 1978 to 1991, and general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1984 to 1990. He is currently the director of the Jesuit Project on Ethics in Politics, based in Ottawa, Canada.
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The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is committed to building a sustainable and equitable world. IDRC funds developing-world researchers, thus enabling the people of the South to find their own solutions to their own problems. IDRC also maintains information networks and forges linkages that allow Canadians and their developing-world partners to benefit equally from a global sharing of knowledge. Through its actions, IDRC is helping others to help themselves.
IDRC Books publishes research results and scholarly studies on global and regional issues related to sustainable and equitable development. As a specialist in development literature, IDRC Books contributes to the body of knowledge on these issues to further the cause of global understanding and equity. IDRC publications are sold through its head office in Ottawa, Canada, as well as by EDRC’s agents and distributors around the world.