Bear with me, I am almost done with text-books. Only 4 more are left, of which, reading 2 of them depends on the result.
Social Theory and Development Administration
By Mohit Bhattacharya
After reading this book, I realized why so many engineers(& others) are taking Public Administration as an optional. The whole study matter engulfed me into so many diverse and myriad philosophies & ideologies. So many concepts which I used to take on face value got clarified & many others I learned. The rating shows my bias towards this book – after all it added a bunch of new intellectual pathways into my knowledge circuit. This is the first book I read by ‘Mohit Bhattacharya’, there are his other works on public administration only.
The book is divided into four sections. Each section dealing with particular topic of Development Administration,Governance,Decentralization e.t.c at length. The text flows effortlessly & gives you a smooth reading speed, keeping in mind the complexity of the concepts.
First Section, starts with the introduction to the term ‘development’ & ‘development administration’. The concept of ‘Development’ is dealt with, showing the historical underpinnings of it. The different theories explaining the meaning of ‘development’ & there evolution. Right from colonialist point of view to the post-developmental-ism. Ideologies of Modernists, Sustainable development, environmentalists,feminists,Gandhian,Marxists, Capitalist – each have been explain thoroughly & succinctly.
Second section, explains the concept of the new buzz word – Decentralization. The various participatory development means, voluntarism,empowerment & sustainable development methods are investigated. The difference between all the concepts involved in decentralization discourse has been identified. Third Section, is concerned with the matters of ‘Good Governance’, Rights and Ethics in development. How the concept of development administration has changed to concept of good governance. What is the right-based approach. The Ethical concerns in ‘Development’. These are some of the issues explained in this section. This section has taken heavily from the international conventions & UN surveys. It was like reading the critique & summary of the methods being proposed by the United Nation Organizations & World Bank.
The last section tries to present the ‘New Paradigms’ in the Development discourse. The challenges in the new millennial. Civil Society & Social Capital evolving as the third leg in the whole discourse alongside private & public players.There is a huge section dealing primarily with the Gender issues & Equality. The last part provides a solid discussion on the ‘Capability Approach’ of Amartya Sen.
This book is just amazing for a novice intellectual trying to understand the debates on development. There is no single path which has been effective & is the ultimate solution. When I compared my line of thoughts with all the theories – I found myself nearing the Neo-liberal & anti-development streams. (Yes, this type of combination can exist acc. to me). However, the highlights for me was the Amartya Sen’s Capability approach. I should have studied his works earlier, it is so close to the new understanding I was tinkering with in my head.
About reading it – if you are one of those who criticize government on each & every thing – please read it. At least, you will know more points on which you can criticize the govt. Also even if you are layman & can’t understand much of it – ‘there is always some thing new to look to’. People already dealing in such issues & the scholars, please recommend me further readings like this.
About UPSC candidates, it’s a must book for Public Administration optional(or Mohit Bhattacharya’s other book). For GS, I don’t consider it of much use as you can never get enough space & time to write answers if you go according to it. Howsoever, I will recommend reading it to better understand the general discourse on development. It will help expanding your viewpoint & understandings.