Workshop on Integration of Endogenous Cultural Dimension into Development

Integration of Endogenous Cultural Dimensions into Development:

UNESCO Workshop, April 19-23, 1995, New Delhi

Under the aegis of UNESCO, the Janapada Sampada division of IGNCA organized a workshop within the framework of United Nations World Decade for Cultural Development from April 19 to 23, 1995 in New Delhi.

The workshop was attended by senior scholars, planners & social workers from different Asian Country viz., China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Srilanka, Thailand, Vietnam etc. apart from India. Several papers representing case studies of different participating countries were presented by the participants who also debated critical issues ranging from theories of culture to problems and prospects of developments especially with reference to Asia. The participants were unanimous in pointing out that the ever-increasing global problems facing human kind cannot be seen apart from culture. They realized that the classical method of development based on the experience of industrialized world has neither brought about peace and harmony, nor has alleviated poverty, or has brought any socio-economic equality or has fostered value systems which are conducive to peace and harmony.

Realizing the task to be negotiated in future, it was pointed that we are in such a stage of history where not only we have to take stock of the common problems of mankind without any prejudice to any race culture or religion. Moreover, in order to make man and man; at one hand and man and nature on the other, to live in relative harmony there is an absolute need for redefining development and of integrating endogenous cultural dimension into it. Furthering this, the participants felt that there is a need to work toward realizing a new humanism which can tolerate diversities of unity rather than enforcing it otherway round.

Reflecting on culture and development the scholars pointed that ‘tradition’ as culture has been used frequently as a simple contrast to development and as such has taken on almost a pejorative meaning, while development has been defined as a rationalization of the means to the end and is never the substitute for tradition as the end. The participants also regretted that there has been a tendency of limiting development to techno-economic field only which as a result has reduced man to the status of disposable economic unit. In the same breath the tendency of limiting the culture to performing arts has created symbols and values of individualism and consumerism which has de-recognized the religious or spiritual initiation, ethics and morality.

Expressing their dissatisfaction over the state-centric development, it was pointed out that there is a considerable ‘cultural illiteracy’ among the policy makers, planners, administrators and the experts which comes heavily on the way of the success of many development projects launched with good intention and the ‘democracy of the haves’ or ‘inner colonialism’ or the ‘bureaucratic traditions’ has caused everywhere two nations – the nation of the minority ‘haves’ and the nation of the majority ‘have nots’.

Enumerating the guiding principles, the participants pointed out that in making the technocratic development profitable, it is not the culture that has to concede the development ideology but it is the latter that has to relate itself to culture. At this point, it was also stressed that the moral and ethical basis of life and living should be linked with the paradigms of development. Emphasizing upon the process of development, through education, it was stated that education in its original sense of the term is nothing but an experience instituted from within, that prepares enlightened individuals and social group for whom education relates in direct proportion with development. However, it was cautioned also that literacy should not be made fetish but through an understanding of local knowledge and a respect for oral tradition, verbal and non-verbal modes of communication the goals of human development can be achieved.

Stressing need for an information model for the endogenous development the workshop delved upon the process and the extent of integration of endogenous insights, knowledge and techniques with exogenous modern science and technology and the indigenous response to self-organizing and low-cost innovations such as biogas solar energy etc. The workshop concluded that such a model should contain information regarding local knowledge of nature and environment, of agriculture and other subsistence mechanism, of health and healing practices, of social perception and population management, of rules, ranks and gender issues. Furthermore, it should also contain information regarding the state of textual and oral traditions, verbal and non-verbal modes of communication, the linkage of formal (modern) and informal (traditional) systems of education, language and literature and also the role of religion in the integration of the community life.

The model should also contain the account of the sacred worldview, myths, rituals, and artistic manifestations of the people participating in the development programme, and the endogenous cultural concept of good life, truth, non-violence, freedom, equality, peace, and poverty, preached by great religions and by such lumanaries as Confucius, Buddha, Zen masters, Natsume, Gandhi, Vinoba and other practical philosophers who found visionary schemes of human development.


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