Like democracy and justice, sustainable development is also a buzzword in contemporary political debate and everyone is in favour of it, in this era of globalization. In recent years it has drawn a global attention. It is universally believed that development which is not sustained is not true development. UNDP recently has admitted that development and sustainability are not separated. In this connection, we may discuss about rural development in India which is an integral part of our planning since independence. The researcher will try to give a brief about the roots of sustainable development and changing patterns of sustainable development, the way to reach sustainable development a paradigm shift from sustainable development to rural development. Lastly, we also analyze the notion of the government of India towards sustainable rural development through its various projects and planning.
The word sustainability derived from the Latin root sustainer, is endurance, that too on a long-term basis. Simply defined, sustainability signifies the attribute or capability of a process or phenomenon to go on and achieve its functional objective in such a manner that its positive effects tend at least two out weight its negative effects. After 1970 the very term sustainable development has emerged as a substitute against the so-called economic growth model and devastating manner of industrialization. In the 1960 and 1970 with the growing concerns about the environment, there was a strong realization that environmental problems were due to a complex problem interrelationship between humankind, global resources, and the social and psychological environment. It resulted in a public debate about conventional growth objectives, strategies, and policies. To meet the growing challenges some scholars argue the substitute of zero growth. But this concept is also criticized by some eminent scholars. They argued that environmental safety and continuing economic growth need not be mutually incompatible and not necessarily conflicting in nature. The term sustainable development was used to refer to this new perspective. It was stated that sustainable development could be achieved through the conservation of living resources. Following a decision being taken at the UN conference in Stockholm in 1972, the World Commission of Environment and Development (WCED) was set up in 1993 to promote economic development and environmental safety simultaneously. According to the WCED report, `sustainability’ means to give more importance to quality of life, rather than higher material standard of living. It defines sustainable development, `meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs.
Sustainable development differs from development in general. Thus the characteristic features of sustainable development include the following:
a. It is a long term continuing process;
b. It is best on equality and justice;
c. Its approach is balanced and integrative ;
d. It has common goals, though roots are different;
e. It accepts nature not merely a resource for development but also as the earthly world for survival and development of mankind; and
f. It is participatory in nature.
So sustainable development is maintaining a delicate balance between the human need to improve lifestyles and feeling of well-being on one hand and preserving natural resources and ecosystems, on which we and our future generations depend. But the question is how do we measure progress towards a sustainable society? How will we know when we have actually arrived at the promised land of sustainably? There are so many types of indications of sustainability. But we can summarize such indicators in the following way:
i) Efficient use of resources.
ii) Limiting pollution.
iii) Diversity of nature to be valued.
iv) Local needs to be met locally.
v) Everyone to have access to food, nature, shelter, and fuel.
vi) Opportunities for work.
vii) Good health.
viii) Access to facilities and services.
ix) Freedom from fear of crime and persecution.
x) Access to skills, knowledge, and information.
xi) Opportunities for culture available to all.
xii) Involvement in decision-making.
Sustainability indicators are meant to represent the way in which individuals and groups can make better choices about their future with the expectation that the indications would lead to a change in lifestyle. Here it must be admitted, however, these indicators are not sufficient, but without these, it is difficult to analyze the sustainability level.
Shepherd describes rural development, “is a set of activity and action of divers actors; individuals, organizations, groups which have taken together leads to progress in rural areas. Progress is defined differently by different people; historically, material progress growth of incomes and wealth, poverty alleviation has been the main consideration”. The World Bank observed that “Rural Development is a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of a specific group of people”. So we can say rural development is a process that leads to a continuous rise in the capacity of the rural people to control their environment accompanied by a wider distribution of benefits resulting from such control. Here environment does not mean only agriculture or economic development. It includes all aspects of rural life social, economic, cultural, and political.
The perception towards rural development has been changed in the second half of the last century and a holistic approach has emerged. In fact, there are several factors responsible for turning out attention from rural development to sustainable development. The Brurtland Report (1987) United Nations Conference on a new status, the establishment of U.N. Commission basic factual behind this change. Andrew Shepherd has mentioned it as ‘paradigm shift’. He also mentions the difference between the “old paradigm’ and ‘new paradigm’ of rural development and the factors behind the emergence of this new paradigm. In this own words ‘there are four fields where substantial conceptual advances have been made, A) these are moves to sustainable agriculture, B) sustainable local institution, C) Revolutionising the project. D) Gender perspective. Shepherd opines that the conventional protect mode of operation, with its shout time and unrealistic attempts to deal with uncertainties through the exercise of control is no longer viable. We need to reach the genuine stakeholders with a long-term perspective. He also suggests that it would allow the rural development practitioners to walk in a participatory, gender-sensitive, holistic manner, evolving there Strategy and organization to make the minimum possible contribution to positive and sustainable development. In fact, he has given a theoretical foundation of a new paradigm of rural development with a new methodology.
For Citing this Article use:
- Prasenjit, S. (2017). Sustainable rural development in west Bengal a case study bankura and purulia since 1993.