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 In the race of fashion and globalization influenced with open market system, marketing policies and diversified choices and interest of people, it is worthless to talk about why certain products have reached to the remotest corners of the world. If we start blaming, everyone is likely to fall in the basket; Weather it is media or the policy makers, the industrialists or the government, politicians or the economics advocates, or the people itself.  But from my perspective, the more important question is why do people consumers) accept such products. Are they unaware of the consequences? If yes, who is responsible? Whose duty is it? Any way let’s not talk about rights and duties in the country where the meaning of democracy is blurred and lost in chaos. Nevertheless, the more important question is have citizens become more conscious of their needs and do they want the government to do things that will help them improve their conditions?

Here I have some more questions; Despite the fact Nepal being rich in water resources, why the people of this country has to pay more than Rupees 20 for the water/coke, which even doesn’t cost more than 25paisa.  MBA’s students might say that its distribution charge; but as a student of Human and Natural Resource Studies (HNRS),  I look forward into the matter and ask a question to myself that what the hell this government is for,  if even it can’t provide clean drinking water to its people. The event of Jajarkot is still alive in my mind.  The more I move towards the subject, the vaguer my answer become. Lots of question arises in fraction of seconds. Why people are facing acute food scarcity? Why do state of malnutrition is severe in Nepal. Why government can’t guarantee better livelihood of its people. Why can’t government deliver public services effectively?

Uff let me drop this debate here and move more closely towards the subject matter. To indentify the problem we have to move into the roots. I.e. who are behind the curtain? More specifically who own the companies that produce cigarettes, coke/Beers and wai wai? Yes we find that the market is elite controlled. These giants companies thus then formulate policies that can influence the consumer behavior. For eg the Hording Board of “Lava” snacks  which can be consumed by children, young and old  is highlighted with a promotional statement -“Better Served with Beers and wines” The products  like cigarettes lacks proper standard and distribution channel. The flashy promotion of cigarettes and alcohol near public places influence young mind towards it. Thus there lies problem in promotion and here on ethical ground media seems to be irresponsible.

 It has been proven that in underdeveloped countries government is weak. And here comes the private sector which is more interested to take as more benefits as possible from the weakness of government. The commercial houses with profit making objective are more likely to favor neo-classic approach of development. The capitalistic approach with these theories of economics is more concerned about the growth of Federal Reserve Bank. Thus, In their belief/logic every product helps to economic boom.  This is one of the reasons why these multinational giant companies have influence over policy in the underdeveloped world. To mention it too precisely we can say that the policy of this country is crafted by foreign gods.

 But are foreign gods only responsible for the policy influence?  As student of HNRS my main concern is why the policy actors/makers in this country are influenced/controlled by few foreign gods. Isn’t this symbol that the government is impotent?

Finally it is better to conclude, while there is government failure; market takes the advantage of the situation and creates public choices and interest in its own favor.

HARD TIMES

Abstract:  Written to ‘shake some people in a terrible mistake of these days’. Hard Times by Charles Dickens flies the banner of social reform, touching on themes of Education, Industrialization, Political Economy and, Utilitarianism in the sweeping Industrial Revolution of the 1850’s. This paper provides an analysis of how Charles Dickens’ viewed mechanical education and industrialism as regressive in its impact on human beings and society as illustrated in his novel “Hard Times”. It looks at Dickens’ argument that industrial society is harmful to human growth and development.

 

“HARD TIMES” 

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life”; with these lines, Hard Times (1854), the famous noble by Charles Dickens begins.

 

“Thomas Grad grind, a citizen of the northern industrial town of Coke town, is a convinced Utilitarian: an enemy to Fancy and a worshiper of Fact. He is intent on having the pupils in his model school—who include his children, Tom and Louisa—overcrowded so full of knowledge as to leave no room for anything else. Thomas Grad grind” is only another name for definitions, demonstration, stats and, calculations”

‘Hard Times’ is constructed around the opposition between fact and fancy.  Dickens criticizes the nineteenth century materialist and utilitarian philosophy, which had turned man into a simple component in the large machine of the society, leaving human being as ‘Production Input. Dickens denounces the political economy and the law system of the age, which were only concerned with raw facts and statistics, not minding the poverty and the hardships of the working class individual. Dickens completely demolishes the materialist and reductionist philosophy of his age, showing the irrationality of cultivating nothing but the totally inhuman ideas connected with fact and plain reality.

Hard Times by Charles Dickens flies the banner of social reform, touching on themes of Education, Industrialization, Political Economy and, Utilitarianism in the sweeping Industrial Revolution of the 1850’s. This paper provides an analysis of how Charles Dickens’ viewed mechanical education and industrialism as regressive in its impact on human beings and society as illustrated in his novel “Hard Times”. It looks at Dickens’ argument that industrial society is harmful to human growth and development and how his use of satire and humor to appeal to readers. Nevertheless, the noble is, at the same time, a social and a philosophical critique.

Hard Times was written to ‘shake some people in a terrible mistake of these days’.

AUTHOR – CHARLES DICKENS

Charles Dickens, a typical author, much loved for his great contribution to classic English literature was well known for his extraordinary epic stories, characters and in-depth representation of ‘modern-day life’. Hard Times is art work of Charles Dickens on a series of contrasts, between fact and fancy, head and heart, age and youth, work and play.

His own story is one of rags to riches. He was born in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812, to John and Elizabeth Dickens. The good fortune of being sent to school at the age of nine was short-lived because his father, was imprisoned for bad debt. Charles was sent to work in Warren’s blacking factory and endured appalling conditions as well as loneliness and despair. After three years he was returned to school, but the experience was never forgotten and became fictionalized in two of his better-known novels ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Great Expectations’.

Like many others, he began his literary career as a journalist. His own father became a reporter and Charles began with the journals ‘The Mirror of Parliament’ and ‘The True Sun’. Then in 1833 he became parliamentary journalist for The Morning Chronicle. With new contacts in the press he was able to publish a series of sketches under the pseudonym ‘Boz’. In April 1836, he married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of George Hogarth who edited ‘Sketches by Boz’. Within the same month came the publication of the highly successful ‘Pickwick Papers’, and from that point on there was no looking back for Dickens.

As well as a huge list of novels he published autobiography, edited weekly periodicals including ‘Household Words’ and ‘All Year Round’, wrote travel books and administered charitable organizations. He was also a theatre enthusiast, wrote plays and performed before Queen Victoria in 1851. Dickens began working on ‘Hard Times’ in January 1854 and completed writing the novel in July of the same year.

 His energy was inexhaustible and he spent much time abroad – for example lecturing against slavery in the United States and touring Italy with companions Augustus Egg and Wilkie Collins, a contemporary writer who inspired Dickens’ final unfinished novel ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’.

He was estranged from his wife in 1858 after the birth of their ten children, but maintained relations with his mistress, the actress Ellen Ternan. He died of a stroke in 1870.

 

THE SETTINGS

Throughout the novel there is a tight, airless atmosphere informed by the utilitarian ethic; English life is no longer organic and whole but lived according to a poisonous theory which allows the rich and powerful to exert their will upon their employees and upon nature itself. The industrial city of Coke town is itself begrimed into colorlessness, shrouded in fumes and the unending plumes of reek arising from its many chimneys. The characters, with the exception of Sissy Jupe and members of the circus troupe, act less like human beings than like automata, programmed to respond to life and to each other by standards of measurable expediency alone. Freedom, humor, and art are symbolized by the circus performers; in glimpses of them (and thus, into the lives of characteristically humorous Dickensian characters), Dickens contrasts the life of imagination with the life of utility.

THE MAJOR CHARACTERS

 

Thomas Gradgrind

Thomas Gradgrind is the first character we meet in Hard Times, and one of the central figures through whom Dickens weaves a web of intricately connected plotlines and characters. Dickens introduces us to this character with a description of his most central feature: his mechanized, monotone attitude and appearance.

Mr. Gradgrind expounds his philosophy of calculating, rational self-interest. He believes that human nature can be governed by completely rational rules, and he is “ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you what it comes to.” This philosophy has brought Mr. Gradgrind much financial and social success. He has made his fortune as a hardware merchant, a trade that, appropriately, deals in hard, material reality. Later, he becomes a Member of Parliament, a position that allows him to indulge his interest in tabulating data about the people of England. Although he is not a factory owner, Mr. Gradgrind evinces the spirit of the Industrial Revolution insofar as he treats people like machines that can be reduced to a number of scientific principles.

Gradgrind undergoes a significant change in the course of the novel. When Louisa confesses that she feels something important is missing in her life and that she is desperately unhappy with her marriage, Gradgrind begins to realize that his system of education may not be perfect. This intuition is confirmed when he learns that Tom has robbed Bounderby’s bank. Faced with these failures of his system, Gradgrind admits, “The ground on which I stand has ceased to be solid under my feet.”

 

Cecilia “Sissy” Jupe

Sissy is abandoned by her father who is a circus performer. He feels that she will have a better life if he is not able to hinder her progress in society. Sissy lives with the Gradgrind family but she is a poor pupil at their school. In contrast to Mr. Gradgrind, Sissy lives by the philosophy of emotion, fancy, hope and kindness. At the end of the novel, Dickens writes that Sissy grows ever happier and she eventually has children of her own to care for. At the end of the noble, Slissy is only the character left who lives a happy life.

 

Louisa Gradgrind/Louisa Bounderby

Louisa is one of the central characters of the novel. She is the eldest of the Gradgrind children and the prize pupil of the educational system. When she grows older, her father arranges her marriage to Mr. Bounderby. Throughout her life, Louisa is very unfulfilled because she has been forced to deny her emotions. She has an emotional breakdown after being tempted into infidelity by Mr. Harthouse. Her marriage with Mr. Bounderby is soon dissolved and she never remarries.

Although Louisa is the novel’s principal female character, she is distinctive from the novel’s other women, particularly her foils, Sissy and Rachael. While these other two embody the Victorian ideal of femininity—sensitivity, compassion, and gentleness, whereas, Louisa’s education has prevented her from developing such traits. Instead, Louisa is silent, cold, and seemingly unfeeling.

Josiah Bounderby

Although he is Mr. Gradgrind’s best friend, Josiah Bounderby is more interested in money and power than in facts. Indeed, he is himself a fiction, or a fraud. Bounderby’s attitude represents the social changes created by industrialization and capitalism. Whereas birth or bloodline formerly determined the social hierarchy, in an industrialized, capitalist society, wealth determines who holds the most power. Thus, Bounderby takes great delight in the fact that Mrs. Sparsit, an aristocrat who has fallen on hard times, has become his servant. Dickens implies that Bounderby uses his wealth and power irresponsibly, contributing to the messed up relations between rich and poor.

 

Stephen Blackpool

Stephen lives a life of drudgery and poverty. In spite of the hardships of his daily toil, Stephen strives to maintain his honesty, integrity, faith, and compassion. Stephen is an important character not only because his poverty and virtue contrast with Bounderby’s wealth and self-interest, but also because he finds himself in the midst of a labor dispute that illustrates the strained relations between rich and poor. Stephen is the only Hand who refuses to join a workers’ union: he believes that striking is not the best way to improve relations between factory owners and employees.

Through Stephen, Dickens suggests that industrialization threatens to compromise both the employee’s and employer’s moral integrity, thereby creating a social disorder to which there is no easy solution.

 

 

THE STORY

With a rule and a pair of scales, and the multiplication table always in his pocket, Sir Thomas Gradgrind is ever ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature. In point of fact Mr. Gradgrind is a man of realities, a man of facts and calculation, a man who proceeds upon the principle that two and two are four, and nothing over, and who is not be talked into allowing for anything over. Moreover Mr. Gradgrind is found to mentally introduce himself, whether that is his private circle of acquaintance or to public in general.

Thomas Gradgrind, a wealthy retired merchant in the industrial city of Coke town, England, devotes his life to a philosophy of rationalism, self-interest, and fact. He raises his oldest children, Louisa and Tom, according to this philosophy and never allows them to engage in fanciful or imaginative pursuits. He founds a school and charitably takes in one of the students, the kindly and imaginative Sissy Jupe, after the disappearance of her father, a circus entertainer.

As the Gradgrind children grow older, Tom becomes a dissipated, self-interested hedonist, and Louisa struggles with deep inner confusion, feeling as though she is missing something important in her life. Eventually Louisa marries Gradgrind’s friend Josiah Bounderby, a wealthy factory owner and banker more than twice her age. Bounderby continually trumpets his role as a self-made man who was abandoned in the gutter by his mother as an infant. Tom is apprenticed at the Bounderby bank, and Sissy remains at the Gradgrind home to care for the younger children.

In the meantime, an impoverished “Hand”— Dickens’s term for the lowest laborers in Coketown’s factory—named Stephen Blackpool struggles with his love for Rachael, another poor factory worker. He is unable to marry her because he is already married to a horrible, drunken woman who disappears for months and even years at a time. Stephen visits Bounderby to ask about a divorce but learns that only the wealthy can obtain them. Outside Bounderby’s home, he meets Mrs. Pegler, a strange old woman with an inexplicable devotion to Bounderby.

James Harthouse, a wealthy young sophisticate from London, arrives in Coketown to begin a political career as a disciple of Gradgrind, who is now a Member of Parliament. He immediately takes an interest in Louisa and decides to try to seduce her. With the unspoken aid of Mrs. Sparsit, a former aristocrat who has fallen on hard times and now works for Bounderby, he sets about trying to corrupt Louisa.

The Hands, exhorted by a crooked union spokesman named Slackbridge, try to form a union. Only Stephen refuses to join because he feels that a union strike would only increase tensions between employers and employees. He is cast out by the other Hands and fired by Bounderby when he refuses to spy on them. Louisa, impressed with Stephen’s integrity, visits him before he leaves Coketown and helps him with some money. Tom accompanies her and tells Stephen that if he waits outside the bank for several consecutive nights, help will come to him. Stephen does so, but no help arrives. Eventually he packs up and leaves Coketown, hoping to find agricultural work in the country. Not long after that, the bank is robbed, and the lone suspect is Stephen, the vanished Hand who was seen loitering outside the bank for several nights just before disappearing from the city.

Mrs. Sparsit witnesses Harthouse declaring his love for Louisa, and Louisa agrees to meet him in Coketown later that night. However, Louisa instead flees to her father’s house, where she miserably confides to Gradgrind that her upbringing has left her married to a man she does not love, disconnected from her feelings, deeply unhappy, and possibly in love with Harthouse. She collapses to the floor, and Gradgrind, struck dumb with self-reproach, begins to realize the imperfections in his philosophy of rational self-interest.

Sissy, who loves Louisa deeply, visits Harthouse and convinces him to leave Coketown forever, Bounderby, furious that his wife has left him, redoubles his efforts to capture Stephen. When Stephen tries to return to clear his good name, he falls into a mining pit called Old Hell Shaft. Rachael and Louisa discover him, but he dies soon after an emotional farewell to Rachael. Gradgrind and Louisa realize that Tom is really responsible for robbing the bank, and they arrange to sneak him out of England with the help of the circus performers with whom Sissy spent her early childhood. They are nearly successful, but are stopped by Bitzer, a young man who went to Gradgrind’s school and who embodies all the qualities of the detached rationalism that Gradgrind once espoused, but who now sees its limits. Sleary, the lisping circus proprietor, arranges for Tom to slip out of Bitzer’s grasp, and the young robber escapes from England after all.

Mrs. Sparsit, anxious to help Bounderby find the robbers, drags Mrs. Pegler—a known associate of Stephen Blackpool—in to see Bounderby, thinking Mrs. Pegler is a potential witness. Bounderby recoils and it is revealed that Mrs. Pegler is really his loving mother, whom he has forbidden to visit him: Bounderby is not a self-made man after all. Angrily, Bounderby fires Mrs. Sparsit and sends her away to her hostile relatives. Five years later, he will die alone in the streets of Coketown.

Gradgrind gives up his philosophy of fact and devotes his political power to helping the poor. Tom realizes the error of his ways but dies without ever seeing his family again. While Sissy marries and has a large and loving family, Louisa never again marries and never has children. Nevertheless, Louisa is loved by Sissy’s family and learns at last how to feel sympathy for her fellow human beings.

 

 

From the PERSPECTIVE OF HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF DEVELOPMENT – (AN ANALYSIS/critique)

 

Hard Times is concerned with industrial society, where  the workers in the factory are treated  as emotionless objects that are easily exploited for self-interest of the industrialists. It is an analysis and a condemnation of the ethos of industrialism. The novel focuses upon characters not as human types but as products of the industrial age. Hard Times is the reflection of nineteenth-century England’s overzealous adoption of industrialization threatens to turn human beings into machines by discomforting the development of their emotions and imaginations.

 

Hard Times is constructed on a series of contrasts, between facts and fancy, head and heart, age and youth, work and play. The story takes place in the phase of the industrial revolution, where Law & political economy controlled by the capitalistic, where man is just treated as production input and children are supposed to be database of facts and figures.

Hard Times has raised serious concerns over mechanization of work and education, mechanization of human beings, meaningless inequitable economic growth and unequal income distribution. It too has tried to focus on family values, role and importance of women’s in decision making, social justice.

 

EDITOR’S ANALYSIS

 

Education/knowledge is the major power from the perspective of Human Dimension of Development; regardless “literacy rate statistics” will be none of use, unless and until we find out what quality education is and how it should be delivered.

Education is the center part of the “HARD TIMES”. Charles Dickens has directly and indirectly shown all the root causes of social problem in mechanization of education. From the perspective of Human Dimension of Development we find that knowledge is the power/energy of human development. But means and ends must be clear. In the Novel “Hard Times”, Dickens has shown that the industrialized society is unaware of ends of development and thus have misutilized the power of education.

 

“The Gradgrind school opposes fancy, imaginative literature and “wondering.” Instead, they encourage the pursuit of “hard fact” and statistics through scientific investigation and logical deduction. But the Gradgrinds are so merciless and thorough in their education that they manage to kill the souls of their pupils. Sissy Jupe and the members of Sleary’s circus company stand as a contrast, arguing that “the people must be amused.” Life cannot be exclusively devoted to labor.”

Dickens suggests that what constitutes so-called fact is a matter of perspective or opinion. Dickens have opposed on making children as database of facts and figures. Somewhere he has indirectly raised concern about quality of education, what education is meant for?  “Should output of Schools should act as production input of factories?? For what schools are constructed for and who are supposed to govern or influence them?

What I conclude is, today’s so called “education” and the “education system” is responsible for the root causes of social problems. Weather it is widening of gab between richer and poor,

 North – South, industrialization, environmental pollution, poverty and or social conflicts. Unless and until we learn to create a balance form of society, unless and until we are clear on ‘ends and means’ of development and the best procedures to metalize them, unless and until we learn to distinguish between subjective and non-subjective, materialistic and non-materialistic parts of society and human being, ‘HARD TIMES’ will ever flourish in 21st century of the modernized and globalized world.

“Mr. Gradgrind believes that human nature can be measured, quantified, and governed entirely by rational rules. Indeed, his school attempts to turn children into little machines that behave according to such rules.”

Similarly, the major problem with Human Development Index (HDI) is that it tries to measure everything as like Mr. Gradgrinds. Whereas, I believe that “freedom” and “Joy”, the ultimate common goal of human being cannot be measured. Regardless, if the measurement indexes are developed, human being should be ready to bear the consequences of it as people during industrial revaluation of 1850s faced the consequences of ‘mechanization of human being’.

Finally, ‘Caring’ should not be sold in market, it is not commodity neither it should have curves of supply and demand. It’s crazy to put economic value on caring. Caring is priceless and thus it should be moved into family model. Through the various female characters in the novel, Dickens suggests that feminine compassion is necessary to restore social harmony. Hence-forth, if we mistaken to trade ‘Caring’  in the market for long time, it would give birth to  gender violence and crime, putting women more prone to vulnerability for example as the Nepalese women’s in gulf countries are facing physical and mental suffering in consequences of providing ‘caring services’.

 

Literature Review:

“Human Development” (HD) has become the new catchphrase in the development literature during the last quarter-century and is now the professed aim of some prominent development agencies. In the not too distant past, quantitative economic growth was the sole desideratum of developing nations, but “human development” encompasses more than mere material growth. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), arguably one of the most influential advocates of the new agenda for “quality of growth,” has defined HD as “creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests”. Sen (1998) elaborates the idea of HD by stressing the increased possibilities for people to lead freer and more fulfilling lives; it is, according to Sen, allowing individuals to “flourish as human beings”. Further, Sen and Streeten highlights that this broader view of development emphasizes opportunity improvement in the dimensions of education, health, and civil participation rather than annual flow of goods and services at market prices (Sen 1996; Streeten 2000). Advocates of HD claim that it has the added benefit of generating positive social externalities that can, in turn, help boost economic development. For example, social cohesion, strong civil participation, and more equitable distribution of income are expected to increase with HD.

Development and Human Rights both share a common goal i.e. Freedom. Development as Freedom is a popular summary of economist Amartya Sen’s work on development. In it he explores the relationship between freedom and development, the ways in which freedom is both a basic constituent of development in itself and an enabling key to other aspects. Freedom is both constitutive of development and instrumental to it: instrumental freedoms include political freedom, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency, and security, which are all different but inter-connected. whereas,  An important aspect of development policy is the relationship between economic growth, on the one hand, and democracy, human rights, and responsive governance on the other.

Essentially, democracy is nothing more than a mechanism that people have designed to rule themselves. In a small book entitled Democracy, which summarizes his substantial scholarship on the issue, the American political scientist Robert Dahl defines democratic decision-making by five criteria. First, democracy requires effective participation. Before a policy is adopted, all members must have equal and effective opportunities for making their views known to others as to what the policy should be. Second, it is based on voting equality. When the moment arrives for the final policy decision to be made, every member should have an equal and effective opportunity to vote, and all votes should be counted as equal. Third, it rests on ‘enlightened understanding’. Within reasonable limits, each member should have equal and effective opportunities for learning about alternative policies and their likely consequences. Fourth, each member should have control of the agenda, that is, members should have the exclusive opportunity to decide upon the agenda and change it. Fifth, democratic decision-making should include all adults. All (or at least most) adult permanent residents should have the full rights of citizens that are implied by the first four criteria.

The idea of political equality lies at the core of democratic decision-making. A violation of one of the above criteria leads to political inequality between people, and hence disrupts the democratic process. A democratic government is one which strives to meet as many of these criteria as possible. These criteria do not however exist in an institutional vacuum. Dahl outlines the following institutions necessary for a well-functioning democracy.

  1. Elected officials: control over government decisions about policy is constitutionally vested in elected officials.
  2. Free and fair elections: elected officials are chosen in frequent and fairly-conducted elections in which coercion is comparatively uncommon.
  3. Inclusive suffrage: practically all adults have the right to vote in the election of officials.
  4. Right to run for office: practically all adults have the right to run for elective offices in the government, though age limits may be higher for holding office than for the suffrage.
  5. Freedom of expression: citizens have a right to express themselves without the danger of severe punishment on political matters broadly defined, including criticism of officials, the government, the regime, the socio-economic order and the prevailing ideology.
  6. Alternative information: citizens have a right to seek out alternative sources of information. Moreover, alternative sources of information (should) exist that are not under the control of the government or any other single political group attempting to influence public political beliefs and attitudes, and these alternative sources are effectively protected by law.
  7. Associational autonomy: to achieve their various rights, including those listed above, citizens also have a right to form relatively independent associations or organizations, including independent political parties and interest groups.

Whereas, the political democracies influence HD, from the resources redistributive perspective, it is frequently argued that when the general population is allowed to vote, the government tends to redistribute public resources toward the consumption of the general population. That is, low-paid workers and the poor are more likely to benefit from a government that “responds.” In perhaps the most authoritative definition of democracy, Lipset (1981) defines democracy as “a political system which supplies regular constitutional opportunities for changing the governing officials, and a social mechanism which permits the largest possible part of the population to influence major decisions by choosing among contenders for political office.” In this political system, majority rule allows the general population to exert its political influence, and consequently to enhance its social and economic welfare. The accountability of the government to the people derives from a power distribution structure that tilts favorably toward the masses.

Nevertheless, we must not identify democracy with majority rule. Democracy has complex demands, which certainly include voting and respect for election results, but it also requires the protection of liberties and freedoms, respect for legal entitlements, and the guaranteeing of free discussion and uncensored distribution of news and fair comment. Even elections can be deeply defective if they occur without the different sides getting an adequate opportunity to present their respective cases, or without the electorate enjoying the freedom to obtain news and to consider the views of the competing protagonists. (Sen, 1999)

 

Importance of Democracy from Human Dimension of Development

 

Democracy is desirable because it is ultimately better than authoritarianism and fares better on a number of issues (2000, pp60–61): it prevents cruel and megalomaniac autocrats from coming to power and harming citizens; it guarantees fundamental human rights, such as the freedom of expression that autocratic governments cannot grant; it better serves people’s interests than an autocratic government; it gives people the right to self-determination; it is better at guaranteeing peace between nations; and citizens are generally more prosperous under a democratic government than under an autocratic one. Dahl concludes that, ‘with all these advantages, democracy is, for most of us, a far better gamble than any attainable alternative to it’ (2000).

The human development and capability approach justifies the desirability of democracy as a form of government and mechanism for people to rule themselves on three fronts: first, democracy and political participation is a value in itself. As Sen (1999) puts it: ‘Political freedom is a part of human freedom in general, and exercising civil and political rights is a crucial part of good lives of individuals as social beings’. To deny people the freedom to participate in political life, either through direct or indirect forms of political participation, is a violation of their human dignity. Drèze and Sen (2002) push the argument further by affirming that this intrinsically valuable freedom does not have to rest on the fulfillment of other freedoms. For example, not being able to be adequately nourished does not entail that people should not be able to participate as political agents: ‘being able to do something through political action – for oneself and for others – is one of the elementary freedoms that people have reason to value. The popular appeal of many social movements in India confirms that this basic capability is highly valued even among people who lead very deprived lives in material terms’ (2002).

One has to note here that intrinsic value of democracy does not mean that democratic institutions will be the same everywhere and at any time. Democracy, this mechanism that allows people to rule themselves, need not be exercised in the same way across time and space. The democratic institutions that were outlined earlier are not universally identical but are always embedded into local cultures and practices. Thus, democratic rule does not necessarily have to be modelled on Western liberal democracies.

The intrinsic value of democracy, that the ability of people to take part in decisions that affect their lives is a good in itself, does not detract from its instrumental value. Democracy is good because it leads to good consequences. Because democracy is a mechanism through which people can voice their concerns in the public space – concerns, for example, about receiving adequate health care, about preserving the environment for future generations, about care of immigrants and asylum seekers, etc.

And more over, Democracies construct collective values, such as the values of tolerance and social equity, and establishing the priority of helping those in need first – but it is noteworthy that some democratically-constructed values might be negative, like racism.

 

From theory to practice, From Philosophy to Reality:

So far, we have discussed what democracy and political participation are in theory. We saw that, ideally, a democracy functions on the basis of the formal exercise of political and civic rights (freedom of expression, of association, etc.), the full political participation of people (i.e. every citizen should have a say in matters that affect his/her life), an accountable and transparent government and well-functioning electoral institutions, etc. In practice, however, these democratic ideals are never fully observed. Contrasting the practice of democracy with its ideal, Drèze and Sen (2002) observe that the actual practice of democratic ideals in a given society critically depends on a large array of factors. They cite the following: first, the practice of democracy depends on the extent of political participation, like election turnouts, the number of political parties, and the number of people who present themselves in elections. Among other factors that disrupt democratic institutions are inefficiency, corruption, incompetence of the bureaucracy and lack of motivation. Further, when people are not well-informed about different political parties and their programmes or when they do not have the educational level to understand their programmes or the policy issues that concern them, their vote may not reflect their best interests.

Nepal could be a best example to study; the country has seen the Kings (Monarchy), the Ranas (Dictators), Pancha’s (the Panchyat System), Political Leaders (Multi Party Democracy), Maoists (Revolutionaries transforming into political party) and now Mr. President, but all so far nothing have worked out. The nation is struggling hard not to be tagged as state of failure. Whilst, the next agenda is federalism. The question is why do even strong theories didn’t work in this small nation once which was viewed as zone of peace.

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Viewpoint:

(The author’s viewpoint is strongly focused towards those developing countries where corruption is rampant; conflict is spread all around; ever growing population is illiterate, and where the political leaders are remote controlled by foreign gods)

 

 

Why do people need to be governed? Why should do demons rule the world and why should god? Why should any opnion or ideology rule the world? Mine question is would you tolerate being governed by any king, dictator, politician, any policy, or law for each and every choices that you make in your life. What short of freedom then you have been delivered? And the next thing why should you govern anyone else? What’s the reason behind that? I have got a simple solution. The solution might be living with the self realization of responsibility towards the nation. Mine statement is very simple if everybody lives his/her life with complete honesty and with self realization of responsibility towards the nation, with self realization of responsibility towards the mother earth, I assure no policy and no government would be required in this world. However since, this simple solution is not preferable by this civilized world, I doubt this remains as a “philosophy” till all the paths are discovered and tagged useless. For now I have no other way than moving to the subject matter “Human Development and Political Freedom/Democracy”.

However moving towards the subject matter is not an easy job. First I am really confused about the term “Development”. What is development? I really don’t have any answer and the confusion gets worse when the “Human” is added to the word “development”. Thus, while coming to Human Development my mind becomes completely blank. It’s not that the subject matter is complex to define rather it is useless to talk in the world where means have become ends and ends have become just the means. The crazy world which I define as slaves of Central Bauru of statics can never go beyond stats and data. First the social researchers, authors, scientists, professors and professionals must become conscious that everything can’t be measured, secondly when human is placed in center then Maslow’s pyramid of needs and wants should be placed in the center of human development debate because human development describes human development as widening of human choices and we all know that choices are related with human needs and wants. But think again, do widening of human choices is the solution?

Whereas, moving towards the term “development”; what I define development as any ongoing activity that moves the global society towards global unity, global harmony, and brings individual human being more closer to complete freedom. (It might be freedom from bondage, freedom from slavery, freedom from hunger, freedom from polluted environment, freedom from poverty, freedom from diseases and freedom from suffering). Here what we need is integrated approach that brings human being more closer to complete freedom. So while we talk about integrated approach, again the Maslow’s pyramid can be a good reference to start from. However you must be wondering about indexes and measurement units? Again the solution lies in honesty, ethics and moral values. The more ethics and moral values people of a nation have and the more they are honesty, the less indexes and measurement units the country have and vice versa. We must recognize that everything can’t be measured, and everything can’t be assigned a monetary value. Freedom and joy can’t be measured and neither we should try. It would be just a crazy and mad act to do so. I call it crime against humanity. We must learn to differentiate between materialistic and non-materialistic things. We must understand different aspects of human being and the meaning & glory of life. If such philosophical things are understood then means and ends should be probably easy to diagnosis.

Had been their only few thousands of population on the planet we wouldn’t have felt the need for any government. Since there is population pressure on resources, a mechanism is needed for meeting the ends of development i.e. the complete freedom. While coming to the point, “human development and political freedom”; democratic government would be right form of the government with few conditioned applied. The conditions are, leaders must have self realization, they must be Master of Their Own and the must be ever true to their spirit. I emphasis on democracy because core center part of democracy is the freedom, the ultimate goal of human being. The next condition could be – “Media” must have a censor board; the third condition could be – Education (along with Curriculums, syllabus) and Education System should be redesigned and redeveloped, and updated frequently; the fourth condition could be – guarantee of pollution free environment for living and the final condition could be – Understanding of the core concept of meta-modern era among the professionals in all of the government bodies.

Finally by stating democracy and democratic government, I strictly mean that the government should not rule over people, rather the system should help people help themselves attain their ultimate goal;  the leader should accept their responsibility to achieve global harmony. And the most, with Honesty, self realization of responsibility and consciousness towards the meaning of life on the planet the leaders should work under their full capacity so that people enjoy the glory of life.

 

(Note: personally I don’t support any form of government, but since the present context has a very typical demand, democracy would be beneficial to extent with the conditions applied)

 

References:

  1. http://www.idrc.ca/ (The International Development Research Center, Science for Humanity) (browsed on 25/05/2010)
  1. http://findarticles.com/ (browsed on 25/05/2010)
  2. http://hdr.undp.org/en/humandev/  (Human Development Reports) (browsed on 26/05/2010)
  3. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/frontmatter/135934.htm (as browsed on 26/05/2010)
  4. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Democracy/On_Democracy_Dahl.html (excerpts from the book “On Democracy” by Robert A. Dahl, Yale University Press 1998)

“How Choices and misunderstanding on Scarcity has put the whole World into chaos.” – A Need to Redefine Resource Economics.

 

Let’s assume a hypothetical case, i.e. Wants=0, then just think about Resources, will the Resources be Scarce?  Wants are unlimited; look at wants of people in 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, and 20th Century. Just study the pattern. They are very much interesting. We can find significant increase in Wants of the general people.  Without a doubt, for the contribution in rampant increase in wants of general people, the award goes to none other than the elite controlled media. Certainly Western Media will bag more medals for it then the eastern ones. Over the decades we can see severe impacts of uncontrolled wants of ever increasing population on natural resources.  The Capitalistic and Marxist have close link with unlimited uncontrolled wants and ever increasing population respectively. Capitalistic are very much clever to cash the unlimited wants while for Marxists population may not be a big issue.  But I put a question to them. What is development? Is that only confined to greater revenue?  Do quality of life is only a philosophical issue to talk? And is Development the end? Do there exists nothing beyond development?

Nevertheless, it is not limited to them only, just find out how corrupt governments and their corrupted policies, greedy marketing strategies, narrow and conservative market oriented Resource Economics are contributing in overexploitation of resources.  Just find out how over exploitation of resources are creating trouble in your community, society and the entire world. Just find out how you have been affected by choices of others. Now find out how scarcity and choices are interrelated. Hence, now find out how Scarcity, Choices and Resources are interrelated or not related at all.

Ok,  if the relation is understood, lets again come to our assumption, wants=0; i.e. just like reverse engineering,   if by any ends and means, if human wants are slowly and gradually minimized;  then just now do a little research. You will be surprised to find out that the whole meaning of scarcity and choice has changed for you. Thus, Scarcity and Choices vanishes.  Now study about Resources.  I am sure you will redefine Resource Economics.

For a  bit,  let’s study the pattern of wants in society. The more things/commodities a person have or is used to with, the more he has “wants”. Let’s discuss few examples: A beggar who have nothing wants food, clothe, shelter, while business man in a city who have easy access to all basic needs wants petrol for his motorbike, mobile for communication, generator/inverters for continuous power supply, computers/printers/calculators to maintain business transaction, perfumes/ornaments to maintain his status in society, refrigeration/air cooler/ washing machine to make life easier. So now find out the resource consumption pattern in different communities.  So now just imagine if wants are minimized or controlled then how severely breakeven point curve of resource economics in the developed/capitalistic countries will be affected.  Now you should have found reason why media is used to govern wants of people. You should have found why capitalistic misuse power of media to have influence over wants of people.  You must have known now how your wants are converted to your needs, how media influence your  wants  and,  how the  Capitalistic  are clever enough to keep these wants ever  increasing and how they cash your wants without letting you know all the drama keeping them behind the scene. Now I hope you will think about the ways to minimize your wants.

Whilist,  let’s discuss about a middle class Family.  Suppose you are the head of the family. Now assume that the next drama starts. Your wife asks you golden bracelet, oh you will be pleased to gift, but what if she asks a golden necklace in the same month. If you love your wife so much then you would try to fulfill her want at any cost. You will work overtime, do hard work all day and night and bring her the necklace that she wished. But what if, in the same month she asks a good silk sari to wear with those ornaments. Definitely, you will try to convince her that it’s beyond your capacity. Yes you got it; this is what I am trying to explain, social institutions must be wise enough while addressing the unlimited wants of ever growing population. i.e., we cannot harvest or manipulate ecosystems in such a way as to diminish their productive capacity, or threaten the natural diversity of life forms (biodiversity). This requires that we critically examine how we harvest renewable resources, and adjust our consumption and land-use practices to fall well within the regenerative capacities of ecosystems.

Ok, if this cautiousness has come to you then let’s plot the production possibility curve plotting “Natural Resource Conservation” along X-axis and “Development” along Y-axis.  Then now you can see what a great wisdom do the term Human and Natural Resource Management needs. Now again answer the following economics’ questions to yourself.

  • What, and How Much, to Produce.
  • How to Produce it.
  • For Whom to Produce it.

Then find out whether these questions have something to do with these philosophy i.e., Substances Produced by Society must not systematically increase in Nature, for e.g.  Plastics, ozone-depleting chemicals, carbon dioxide, waste materials, etc must not be produced at a faster rate than they can be broken down in nature.

“Choices” and the misunderstanding on meaning of “Scarcity” have put the whole world in a chaos. Choices are related to unlimited human Wants; Whereas, Natural Resources are component of Nature so complicated phenomenon to be understood by the limited knowledge.  Here I just put few logics to support Natural Resources are not Scare only the problem is there is that Human beings have priotised  unlimited wants which social  institutions with limited knowledge are inefficient to manage.

People pollute water and complain “Water is Scarce”, just look the situation in Kathmandu.  River Bagmati has been turned into a drainage system and they are ready to expend million dollars to fetch water from Melemchi.  Off course, the major credit for it goes to the government and its policies.  You just find out why water has been scarce in Mega cities of the world, but why not in rural plains. And one more question, do sand in desert is scarce?  Yet, are you willing to go up with the mugged up definition of Resource Economics? Then just have a brainstorming.

 

Natural Resources are not scarce, just have a look

  1. Some Natural Resources are living process and in a life cycle. So how can they be scarce? For e.g., Water Cycle.

Only the problem is:-

  1. Human wants are unlimited and uncontrolled.
  2. Over exploitation and mismanagement of natural resources are rampant.
  3. Population growth rate is ever increasing.
  4. Human beings have limited knowledge because the capacity of brain is limited to some few 1000 terabytes of which only few percentage humans are able to utilize.
  5. Technology is never 100% efficient.
  6. Social institutions lack proper understanding in addressing the needs and wants of people. Just give a look to Maslow’s pyramid of humans need and want and then find out whether or not economics has been able to address them. You will be surprised to find out how economics is narrow and helpless to solve human problems.

If agreed then let’s have a look on polluters pay principle. Do you think it will help mitigate climate change? Just a rubbish theory; Unethical and irresponsible act. Polluter pay principle is just a game played by developed countries/Capatilistic/Industrialist and it has nothing to do with mitigating climate change. These theories/practices give right to developed nations/Capatilistic/Industralists to pollute environment. Just study what choices they have, what decisions they make and why.  Can you believe that their increasing “wants” have over exploited resources of poor countries up to some level? Then will you agree that this narrow market oriented Resource Economics is contributing in conflict generation and resource overexploitation.  Such narrow and market oriented resource economics only booms hindrance in national and international peace. Apply some creativity, remove the pollutant factors from the Resource Economics and see resource economics contributing in peace and sustainable development. Can I hope, one day developed nations will be promoting handmade utensils/goods of developing nations rather then there  commodities manufactured with additional huge tones by-products. This would be a courageous step towards climate change by the world’s super powers, G7, G8, G20 or whatever. And one more question, if u don’t mind, plz let me know how much people of  Bhopal and their  generations should be paid/compansated for the industrial disaster of 1984? You may still argue but I am sure that this narrow Resource Economics  can  never be effecient  while internalizing negative externality.

Serously answer me, How much should U.S.  pay to Japan for polluting its land?  How much should China pay to India for polluting its air? How much should Russia pay to Germany for polluting its water? Hahaha it seems as if the thirld world war if fought wud be fought for pure land, pure air and, pure water.  Don’t hurry, take your time. But at the end you will find your Resource Economics helpless to solve human generated problems.  The present narrow  Resourcce Ecconomics is only a womb that gives birth to uncountable conflicts. lets take another example.  Look at the defination of “Forest” adopted by UNFCC, I doubt which level of expertise they have; Have they imagined what short of problem it would give rise to. Don’t they know difference between “Forest” and “Plantation”; i would only like to suggest them is come to Nepal, a small kid will explain you what is Forest.  Do you believe REDD could be successful to mitigate climate change with present definition of “forest”.

Resource economics should broaden itself, it must be able to solve human problems rather than confining to “wants”  and “price”.  Money is mechanism only to make exchange of products easier. Can you imagine a world where we have nothing to exchange. It would be a hell. We exchange and thus development flourishes, cooperation strengthens, societies come closer. Just imagine everyone has everything then can u answer me why anyone should come to you?  You might be confused what i am talking about. Its simple, we exchange products, put price for a commodity but thats not the only end. Money is just a means but, in practice, Economics is found culprit for making it as the destination.

Ok, lets move on,  tell me operating system is scarce or not?  When i say operating system you must have picture  of Bill gates Microsoft’s Windows, OK agreed you have to pay a price for that. But have u used “Linux”, its all free of cost, you can download it free of cost.  After then you must have a question about the price i.e.; zero price. But i don’t think i have to explain it in detail, Everbody knows about it.  Money is just a medium that we use to exchange goods, just to make our life easier.  we all know about “the bata system”.  Thoes were the days of Industrialization when Economics was defined but now the context has been changed, but now its time for meta-modern society and hence-forth Resource Economics shares a broad goal with Human Rights. Thus there is a sever need to Redefine Resource Economics. Resource Economics must play significant role in mainstreaming Human Rights as per the “need”  and “want” of the global society. The achievement of lasting progress in the implementation of human rights is dependent upon sound and effective national and international policies of economic and social development.  So the government with civil society needs to contribute its effort more towards mainstreaming of human rights.  Yet, are you well off with the narrow Resource Economics? Decesion is yours.  Yeah, I understand  every decision has an opportunity cost. But just see where we are now?

A deep understanding towards ecology and the planet earth is most when one talks about Human and Natural Resource Management.  You can make furniture out of a tree but can u produce a tree? Off course you can plant them but the ultimate producer is the Nature itself. So how much do human beings know about Nature? It’s mysterious.  Nature is only the ultimate producer; human beings can only produce death things i.e., they can convert one thing into other, But Nature only can produce that is living. Respect the Nature, they are a living Process.  Natural Resources have to be identified and studied very carefully, the way they are produced by the Nature, and the way they are decomposed by the Nature itself.

And finally the understanding on spiritual values of nature may help you solve complex problems of human beings in the simplest way. Just respect the river that flows through your city, water will be never scarce.

Let it be Poltics or Media; Banks or Industries; Government or Non-Government; today every sector is polluted with Corruption. Corruption Can be cearly seen as one of the major cause which has brought this country to such a disasterous point.

The only Self Realization of Responsibility towards the Motherland is sollution to all the problems.

If the feeling of Nationality is in Heart & Soul, then one can never induldge himselft in any Corruption. The insist to do, Potentiality, & the Nationality within each youth is enough for the Development & Restoration of Peace of this Nation.

This is the land where Buddha was born; Even his feeling is understood, One can find his Heart filled with love for the whole world. Nothing to Kill &, Nothing to Die for. No Boundries & No Issue to Fight for. If one develops love for his Country, then & there he will be transformed into a Honest & Beautiful Personality.

And once, if the Corruption is gone; no matter whichever the Government comes, Definately the Country will achieve Peace & Prospereity.

If One really needs Peace; then How can he be Corrupted…?

Many Enlighted Souls were born on this land, who devoted themselves for their Country & for the whole World. We are fortunate to be born on this land; it is a Great Honour for us…

“Choices” and the misunderstanding on meaning of “Scarcity” has put the whole world in a chaos. Choices are releated to unlimited human Wants;  Whereas, Natural Resources are component of Nature so complicated phenomenon to be understood by the limited knowledge.  Here i just put few logics to support Natural Resources are not Scare only the problem is there is that Human beings have priotised  unlimited wants which social  institutions with limited knowledge are ineffecient to manage. 

people pollute  water and complain “Resources are Scarce”.  Whereas,

 

Natural Resources are not Scarce beoz:

1.  Humans wants are unlimted.
2. Over exploitation and Missmanagement of Resources are
     rampat.
3. Population growth rate  is ever growing.
4. Some Natural resources are living process and in a life
     cycle for eg. Water Cycle.
5. Human being have limited knowledge because Brain has certain limitations.

6. Technology can never be 100% efficient.

 

Natural Resource Management needs a great wisdom. Respect the Nature, they are a living Process.  Natural Resources have to be identified and studied  very carefully, the way they are produced by the Nature, and the way they are decomposed by the Nature itself.

(…and plz stop telling Natural Resource as stuff;  u say them stuff just bcoz u have limited set of knowdledge. )

The whole world needs indiviual attention now; Man Made Climate Change is all due to Total Disrespect towards ecology and the planet earth. Due to Ego & Super Ego World is having Blood Wars everywhere and, here thus now we need to build a society that respects the Nature and reflects Love & Care for the entire Humanity.

NATURAL LIFE

livINg tHE wAY tHE NatuRE iS

 

Imagine People living the life the way Nature is…!!!