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What role does culture play in development? | World Economic Forum
But it can also be precipitated by social acceptance, by selective elimination and by integration. From a policy perspective, malleable aspects of culture are more interesting as they open up the possibility for intervention. There are other complications, however, in attempting to use cultural explanations for economic development. Huntington remarks how in the early s Ghana and Korea were broadly comparable in terms of income per capita, structure of production, and foreign aid.
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Thirty years later the contrast could not be more pronounced. Ghanaians had different values. In short, cultures count. The problem with this formulation is that it does not provide a very auspicious basis to start a dialogue with Ghana as to how they could catch up with Korea. Not surprisingly, international financial organizations and bilateral donors have shied away from framing the debate in terms of cultural norms.
In many developing countries investors are unwilling to plan for the long-term because of the risks associated with political instability. What may appear to be cultural traits may, in fact, be behaviors shaped by economic incentives and thus amenable to change through changes in the underlying incentives. So, to take an example, the absence of a work ethic in the Soviet Union was not a reflection of some ingrained cultural trait, but rather was a natural response to an environment in which wage differentials were extremely narrow, promotion was not linked to performance, and life-time employment was more or less guaranteed.
Sachs identifies a number of factors which have fundamentally affected development in various parts of the world and can be detached from conceptions of culture.
What role does culture play in development?
He notes, for instance, the dis advantages of geography, such as access to natural resources, being landlocked or part of a poor, volatile neighborhood. Easterly discusses the heavy burden on Africa associated with the historically arbitrary demarcation of international borders. Poverty may have more to do with geography and climate, with natural resource management, and with the toxic interactions between ethnic diversity and artificial borders, than with purely cultural factors. We are witnessing the gradual emergence of a universal, global culture based on such values as adherence to civil and human rights, gender equality, respect for property rights, the rule of law, acceptance of market forces as a mechanism for resource allocation.
In saying that education and the acquisition of knowledge and skills are desirable development objectives we are making a statement that holds true across different regions of the world, that applies to all contemporary civilizations.
Of course, societies will differ in the ways and the extent to which they have internalized some of these values in their policies, their traditions and their institutions. Acceptance of the desirability of gender equality, for instance, does not mean that inequalities and injustices based on gender—deeply entrenched in all our cultures, to a greater or lesser extent—will suddenly disappear.
Women have equality with men. All the citizens of India have the right to vote at all the levels of our political system. There has been tremendous progress in the field of education. More than million children receive education at the primary level.
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The increase in numbers at the secondary stage is also impressive. Education at college and university levels has also increased enormously. Today, there are about universities in India. Basic education is being provided at the elementary level. Today, at senior school and university levels, emphasis is being put on vocationalisation, computer studies, applied sciences, management and on some other relevant and gainful fields of knowledge to tackle the problem of unemployment among the educated young men and women.
In , a new Education Policy was implemented by the Government of India placing greater emphasis on the quality of education particularly at the school level.
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Special attention has been given to the education of the SCs and STs, women and backward sections. Education has promoted migration of people from villages to towns and cities. There is an increased emphasis on Hindi and other national languages. The policy of learning three languages at the school level has been implemented in all the states of the Union of India.
Since this was done on the basis of the language spoken by the people, each state has some cultural cohesiveness. India was characterised by the unique type of feudalism under which the rajas, thikanedars, jagirdars and zamindars were treated as Mai-Bap parents.
The institution of zamindars as intermediaries was removed with the stroke of a pen. Later on, the consolidation of small landholdings and ceilings on maximum landholdings were taken up as measures of land reforms.