Developing Human Resourcefulness

Strategies To Eradicate Poverty in the 1990s

January 1994

International Commission on Peace and Food
2352 Stonehouse Drive, Napa, California 94558

Executive Summary

For the first time in human history, entire populations have come to expect the material comforts and living standards that were once the exclusive prerogative of the elite. A global revolution of rising expectations is awakening an insistent urge for development in every country. The slow subconscious growth of society, which has long been inadequate to meet this demand, must be converted into a conscious process of accelerated development for all people everywhere. The awakened energies have to be harnessed and channeled into constructive developmental activities.

War and human progress have co-existed for millennium and have sometimes been mutually reinforcing. But the demand for widespread prosperity embracing the whole of society is incompatible with the enormous costs and destructive consequences of war. Peace is an imperative precondition for fulfillment of humanity’s aspiration for prosperity.

Despite the many unsolved problems confronting humanity, the world is gradually moving toward the realization that there are no inherent limits to human achievement and that the central determinant of that achievement is human resourcefulness. People are the driving force, the means and the goal of the development process. In order to fully utilize and enjoy this human potential, we must first evolve a clearer understanding of how and why individuals and societies develop and what we can do to consciously support that process.

Development is the process of awakening and releasing human energies in pursuit of higher achievements. New social institutions and individual skills are needed to positively channel the awakened energies into constructive activities. Otherwise, these energies tend to spill over into frustration and violence. Creating the awareness of opportunities, fashioning the institutions and acquiring of these skills are essential components of the development process.

Everywhere we see a vast gap between developmental opportunities and developmental achievements. The world today possesses an enormous reservoir of unutilized human skills and capacities, proven technology, practically valuable information, untapped markets, underdeveloped resources, legal expertise, and administrative and organizational know-how. A full utilization of these potentials can rapidly multiply the results of our effort and generate ten-fold greater achievements. Among these resources, organization possesses the greatest potential for transforming social life to meet the needs of all people. As the 20th Century has revealed the vast productive powers of scientific technology, the 21st should reveal the unlimited creative potentials of the technology of organization.

Culture has been at once a persistent barrier and a great motive power for development. An insistent clinging to the external forms of culture has often been a bar to advancement. The continuous enrichment of the values that constitute the core of every culture is the greatest fruit of civilization and the most powerful lever for further human progress. Physical, social, organizational, ethical and psychological values embody the essence of a universally shared life knowledge that is the basis of all successful human endeavors. The distillation of these core values and their active transmission through information, education and social institutions are the key to the most rapid and harmonious human development.

Acknowledging the invaluable efforts that have already been made by many agencies to emphasize the importance of a human-centered approach to development, this report presents a wider perspective of the dynamic process that underlies, energizes and supports human development in every field and focuses on strategies that can most effectively stimulate and accelerate that process. It attempts to uncover a vast untapped or under-utilized potential for promoting more rapid and successful advancement of our global society. It seeks to generate a faith and a conviction that if the experience and knowledge of accomplishment already gained by a portion of humanity is fully extended and applied for the benefit of all, eradicating global poverty can be achieved within a decade. By more fully exercising the inherent resourcefulness of our species, we can overcome the obstacles that still obstruct our efforts to create a better common future.

Summary of Recommendations

These recommendations should be carried out by both governmental and non-governmental agencies at the national and international level to generate accelerate the development process:

International Level

  1. The UN Secretariat should initiate an international effort to evolve a comprehensive, human-centered theory of individual and social development that will lead to the formulation of more effective strategies to accelerate the development process.
  2. Major international surveys should be undertaken by UNESCO to identify the gaps in the availability of information to people in countries at different levels of development regarding opportunities, accomplishments, problems and solutions in employment, agriculture, industry, commerce, management, science, technology, health, education, law and social welfare. The studies should assess the potential benefit and best strategies for filling in these gaps through intensified efforts to disseminate information.
  3. A special commission of eminent international thinkers should be constituted under UNESCO to evolve a vision of the progress the world is most likely to achieve during the next 25, 50 and 100 years and to identify recommendations to accelerate progress toward these achievement.
  4. Measures and indices such as UNDP’s Human Development Index that provide a comparative national assessment of progress on key dimensions of development generate greater awareness and stimulate greater political will and social initiative to improve performance. In a similar manner, UNDP should commission a program to construct one or a series of scales to measure the organizational development of countries covering major sectors such as commerce, industry, agriculture, education, health care, and technical training. The scale should evaluate the level of organization in terms of its overall support to activities in each of these fields and well as the number and quality of institutions providing this support. Where objective measures are not possible, a rank or relative scale will suffice. These scales can then be utilized by countries to assess their own level of organizational development and to identify key areas where improvement is most needed.
  5. Trained professionals from the UN Volunteer Corps and national service corps from member countries can be enlisted to identify and catalog highly successful social systems and institutions that enable some countries to perform significantly better than others, covering fields such as law and public administration, agriculture, industry, scientific research, education, housing and public health. This inventory will serve as a valuable resource to countries seeking models for how to improve the effectiveness of their institutions.
  6. One or more commercial organizations should be established as autonomous divisions of UNIDO, the Third World Academy of Sciences and other international agencies to promote the commercial transfer of technology to, within and between developing countries and to channel the profits from this activity toward research in these countries.
  7. UNESCO should commission studies to construct a series of scales to measure the level of key skills in societies at different levels of development. The scales should assess the quantitative and qualitative development of key physical, technical, vocational and organizational skills.
  8. A coordinated effort should be undertaken by the UN to establish a model program in one country designed to identify and tap all the available social opportunities and fully utilize all the available social resources. The achievements of this model will demonstrate the scope for every country to accelerate development by tapping their unutilized social resources.
  9. An international program coordinated by UNESCO should be initiated to prepare development education curricula for all levels of school and collegiate education. The curricula should present a conceptual and historical perspective of the process of human development taking place nationally and globally. It should actively foster values of tolerance and integration and identify opportunities for individual advancement, with special emphasis on entpreneurship and self-employment.
  10. UNESCO should initiate a research program to evolve a radically new educational curricula for the 21st Century that will endow the individual with the knowledge, skills and values needed for high material achievement, psychological well-being and true mental objectivity.

    Developing Countries

  11. In all developing countries with literacy rates of less than 95%, a massive campaign should be lauched to eradicate illiteracy by year 2000, engaging the participation of educational institutions, non-governmental agencies, military and national service corps personnel .
  12. Central and state governments should give the highest possible priority to raising the educational achievements of female children. The benefits of educating girls on health, nutrition, population control, and family welfare should be widely publicized. Developmental assistance should be directly linked to progress on this crucial issue.
  13. Governments in cooperation with public foundations, research institutes, universities and voluntary agencies should identify gaps in practically useful information available to and known by the population regarding individual and collective opportunities and achievements in agriculture, industry, trade, management, science, technology, nutrition, health, education, employment, law and social welfare. These agencies should promote wider dissemination through governmental and non-governmental channels and the media. This effort is especially needed to prepare the populations of Eastern Europe for rapid acceptance of new political and economic systems.
  14. Introduce measures to increase the velocity (speed of transmission and utilization) of money, information, decision-making, application and dissemination of technology, transportation and communication to increase productivity and stimulate development.
  15. Each country should assess the functioning of the key institutions that support agriculture, commerce, industry, exports, invention, marketing, distribution, consumer and commercial credit, housing, health, education, training and other key activities to determine the scope, quality and effectiveness of their operations in comparison with those in more developed nations. Evolve strategies to raise the quality and quantity of the social organization for development to that of nations at a more advanced stage.
  16. An entire spectrum of new institutions and systems needs to be established at the local and national level in East European countries in order to support rapid transition. Highest priority should be given to identifying and introducing them in all sectors of the national life.
  17. Combined teams of researchers and business professionals in each country should identify innovative systems successfully employed by other nations to improve performance in key sectors of the economy and propose steps to introduce as many as possible.
  18. Prepare an inventory of key physical, commercial, educational, organizational and technical skills needed to raise the country to the level of nations at the next higher level of development. Place maximum emphasis on investments to raise the quality and quantity of skills to that level.
  19. There is enormous scope for raising productivity by improving the technical knowledge and skills of farmers in developing countries. Establish agricultural farm schools at the village level throughout the country to train young farmers in advanced cultivation methods and demonstrate their efficacy on farmers’ lands. These schools should be located on lands leased out from farmers, which are commercially cultivated by the students as part of the training program.
  20. Basic technical and vocational skills are in short supply in most developing countries and this shortage acts as a significant constraint to more rapid growth in incomes and jobs. Extend and expand the system of technical and vocational training by establishing local craftsmen training institutes offering a wide range of basic technical and vocational training at the local level throughout the country.
  21. Research should be undertaken to identify proven but under-utilized agricultural, industrial, commercial, educational and medical technologies in the country and evolve strategies to more widely disseminate and to propose measures to popularize their use.
  22. Identify "products" that can act as catalysts to release the energies and initiative of the population for higher achievement. Develop systems and programs that make it possible for individuals to obtain these products by their own initiative.
  23. Development education should be introduced at all levels of the curricula of schools, colleges and universities in every country to impart a greater knowledge of the process of development the society is passing through and the opportunities which it presents for individual accomplishment, with emphasis on entrepreneurship and self-employment.
  24. The media and popular literature should be utilized to publicize success stories and achievements in every field and encourage constructive imitation to quickly multiply successful initiatives.
  25. Introduce model programs in one district to identify and tap all the available social opportunities and fully utilize all the available social resources.

    Developed Countries

  26. Raise the minimum compulsory level of education by two years in industrialized nations to reduce unemployment and better equip the next generation for coping with the increasing complexity and sophistication of life in the coming century. Intensify efforts to reduce high school dropouts and encourage greater enrollment in higher education.
  27. Government agencies and private research institutions should endeavor to identify critical information gaps that hampered progress on key social issues such as employment, trade, inflation, crime, drugs, urban poverty and public health, to commission studies to document essential information and to widely disseminate the findings.
  28. Examine the systems and institutions introduced by other industrialized nations to promote economic development and introduce those that can beneficially adapted.
  29. Introduce management training as an essential part of the high school and college level curriculum in order to impart essential planning, organizational and financial skills to all students.
  30. Governments and private enterprise in developed nations should intensify technical and vocational training programs to better equip their workforce for competition in the next century.
  31. As society progresses, certain achievements or "products" come to symbolize the higher status associated with that progress and the pursuit of achievements acts as a spur to the rest of the society. Aristocratic titles, the trappings of wealth and the automobile have played this role in the past. Conduct a study to identify new "products" that can act as a stimulus to release and channel social energies for higher achievement.

Part I: Concepts

The First Global Revolution

The increasing velocity of change around the world necessitates a fundamental rethinking of our concepts and strategies for development. After countless centuries of slow, often imperceptible progress, humanity everywhere is on the move. An avalanche of technological advance has brought with it wave after wave of social innovation. While not long ago most people expected to end their lives in the same place and largely the same position as they and their predecessors began them, today entire societies are motivated by an expectation, an urge, a feverish drive for rapid advancement that has acquired the characteristics of a global, social revolution, a revolution of rising expectations.

In previous centuries the primary aim of society was survival and stability of the existing social order. The primary social forces were aligned to maintain the status quo. Growth was confined to the advancement of a small number of individuals, mostly within existing levels of the established social order. Development was a slow, haphazard and largely unconscious result of countless individual efforts. Today the human aspiration for greater comfort, convenience, security and enjoyment motivates entire societies to embrace progress as their primary goal and collectively dedicate themselves to achieve it, encouraging and supporting the initiative of individuals to advance their own position and in that way contribute to the general progress. The race for development has become an intense preoccupation of every nation. The slow pace of trial and error growth is no longer adequate to meet the rising demands of the people.

This movement has become so widespread and so compelling that it is not bound by either rationality or morality. Revolution means to bring future results more quickly, sooner than they would come through normal evolutionary processes. The power of the human mind to formulate intense expectations of future results propels people to change their behavior now in order to attain them. These expectations are the seed and driving force for social progress. They provide the energy and create the openness and willingness for change. But they also increase the danger of frustration, disappointment and violence. Revolutions of the past have been partial and localized negative reactions against an existing social order that benefited aonly a small part of society. They resulted in war and destruction. The revolution of rising expectations is a positive, constructive movement spreading to encompass the entire global society and pressing for establishment of a higher social organization that can meet the expectations of all humanity. Society has no alternative but to meet these growing expectations by channeling the awakened energies into productive pursuits. The task now is to make the previously unconscious process of development conscious, to accelerate it and to convert the revolution of rising social expectations into a positive energizing movement of the entire society.

The Peace Imperative

The most essential prerequisite and condition for the fulfillment of this revolution is peace. In the past, war and development have often been able to co-exist and sometimes even complement each other. Technological progress increased defensive and offensive capabilities. The demands of war stimulated greater economic activity and spurred organizational innovation, especially to the benefit of those not directly engaged in the conflict. Guns were one of the first products of mass production. Today this is no longer the case. The devastating power of even conventional weapons on economic activity and society in general is so great that no developed nation can afford the costs of military confrontation either at home or overseas. No longer can non-combatants sit quietly on the sidelines or work productively undisturbed. War has come to involve and effect all of society. Infrastructure and productive facilities have become a principal target of military action. Food supplies are frequently the first major casualty and most lethal weapon. A single explosion can paralyze a major metropolis or contaminate an entire region with toxic material. The disruption of trade resulting even from regional conflicts like the Persian Gulf War of the War in Bosnia impacts not only on the economies of the combatants but also on neighbors, trading partners and global economic performance. Neither the victor nor the victim can any longer afford to resolve conflicts violently. Political states may still be able to survive wars, but developmental achievements cannot. The ravages of war will remain painfully visible in Bosnia and Somalia long after political issues are resolved.

So long as the benefits of development are confined to one or a few sections of society, the costs of militarization and war may not prevent economic and social progress. But when the goal is to extend the benefits of development to the entire society, every social resource must be garnered and harnessed for this purpose. The colossal costs of armaments and the colossal destruction of war are incompatible with the achievement of prosperity for all. Peace has become the fundamental imperative for development.

Development of What for Whom?

Development is the master word of the late 20th Century. Never before in history have so many people in so many countries been so totally preoccupied with writing, reporting, debating, planning, organizing, educating, training and acting to promote any grand cause. Development has become an all-embracing word that is widely applied to agriculture and industry, science and technology, economics and business, politics and administration, social and cultural change. Despite universal consensus as to its importance, there is still an enormous disparity of views about what development is and how best it can be realized. The UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, recently stated that reflecting on our basic understanding of development is "the most important intellectual challenge of the coming years".

Development is a strictly human phenomenon. There is no development without people. It is not agriculture, industry, economy, science or technology that develops. It is humanity that develops agriculture, industry, science, economic systems, culture and countless other instruments and fields of self-expression. The individual and the human collective are the center and driving force and chief protagonists of the development process. Understanding this truth, the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru once asked a group of new government officers to define development. After rejecting a long list of partial definitions referring to physical infrastructure, capital investment, industry, science and technology, Nehru offered his own: "By development we mean development of consciousness." Progressive changes in our knowledge, understanding, attitudes, perceptions, intentions, opinions, aspirations, motives and values, and in the skills, technologies, systems, institutions, laws and wider organizational mechanisms humanity fashions to express them constitute the foundation, the essence, the driving force and the instruments for the myriad expressions of development we see in different fields of social life.

Historically, society has progressed from experience to knowledge by a slow, trail and error process of physical experimentation leading to greater awareness, new discoveries and new ideas. It gathers facts and learns how to achieve by prolonged subconscious experience. It attempts and achieves, then later comes to understand the secret of that success. Eventually that understanding becomes formulated as a conscious knowledge which can be passed on to others. Even today, many of our past achievements are not yet fully understood and very few possess a vision of the future towards which it strives. The development the world strives after is not this slow subconscious process of learning. It is conscious development that can only be achieved by a knowledge of the process, the theory, applied practically to accelerate individual and social progress. If society has the vision of where it is going and the knowledge of how to release social initiative in new directions, it can then accelerate progress by moving from knowledge to experience. It can make the process conscious.

The recent shift in perspective from economic development to human development is an important step toward evolving more valid theory. Still many mistake the strategy and the measures for the process and the goal. The shift in emphasis from economic growth to improving life expectancy, nutrition, housing, education and employment opportunities; the shift in strategy from investment in infrastructure and industry to investment in schools, training institutes, and public health programs are based on the recognition that improving people’s lives, not building economic systems, is the essential purpose of development. But improving the status of people in terms of their education, health, nutrition, housing, life expectancy, political and social freedoms and opportunities is only a part of development. They define or describe development in terms of some of its goals and expressions. They do not really tell us what it is or how it happens.

Development is not only the achievement of certain definable goals or status. It is a dynamic and continuous process of increasing human capacity, of bringing to the surface and manifesting greater potentials of the individual and the social collective--of developing human resourcefulness to solve problems and tap opportunities to achieve progressively higher levels of comfort, convenience, security, knowledge, enjoyment, creativity and fulfillment. Human-centered development means development which seeks to harness the awakened aspirations of the people by providing the information, establishing the institutions and imparting the skills that will enable them to build up their capacities, direct their energies and utilize their available resources for their own progress.

A comprehensive approach to development can not afford to argue over the relative importance of technology, economic policy, political rights, education, training, organization, people’s participation or other factors. Rather it must come to view all of these as instruments and expressions of a more fundamental, underlying process. This process reveals a vast untapped potential, an extraordinary vision of opportunity, open to humanity at the present time, based on more rapid development of human resourcefulness and made possible by the recent reduction in global military threats and tensions.

Lessons of the Post War Period

A brief overview of development experience in recent decades illustrates a wide disparity between this conception and the strategies that have commonly been applied to improve the human condition. During the post-war period, soaring aspirations of newly independent states and socialist countries seeking to emulate the swift recovery of Western Europe under the Marshall Plan and quickly catch up with the West placed unprecedented responsibilities on national governments and later on international institutions to accelerate the pace of social progress. The role of government evolved from defender of the borders and keeper of domestic peace to that of economic leader and social provider. Former freedom leaders and war heroes were suddenly called upon to mobilize their countries for development, for which their experiences with armed struggle provided little preparation. Governments throughout the developing world tried to accomplish development through centralized planning, public sector ownership and entrepreneurship, tight control of trade and currency, subsidies, incentives, quotas, licenses and complex administrative procedures.

The resultant effort proved deficient in several respects:

  1. Most countries attempted development through bureaucratic, administrative organizations designed to control and regulate society but incapable of mobilizing social energies and releasing social initiative.
  2. Development was perceived in terms of programs to be carried out by government, rather than as a social movement of the population which government could encourage and support, but never accomplish on behalf of the society. Programs were rarely based on clear strategies for generating social initiative.
  3. Programs were usually fragmented sectoral initiatives that tended to ignore important contributing factors from other sectors and the complex interrelationships that exist between them. Even successful strategies were most often partial rather than integrated. Comprehensive integrated strategies such as India’s Green Revolution that combined information, technology, incentives, organizational mechanisms, education and training were the exception.
  4. Strategies and programs were rarely founded on well-conceived development policy that embraced the entire national life.
  5. There did not yet exist a conceptually valid theory of development that was comprehensive of the whole life of a nation.

The failure of this approach to meet the high expectations of the period invariably led to faulting the inadequate, corrupt or insincere political will of the leaders and institutions of government around the world. The assumption that government was in fact capable and competent to carry out this task was rarely questioned. Lack of political will became the ultimate scapegoat for all our failings. Recent experience as well as a historical perspective of development as a social process both suggest that government is at best a very inadequate instrument for development. While the waging of war can be carried out on behalf of society by a specially trained and highly motivated military, the task of national development requires the training and enthusiastic participation of the entire society, which cannot be accomplished by a centralized bureaucracy. No government can on its own strength and initiative develop a nation. Disillusionment with government is perhaps an inevitable reaction to the earlier illusion. The collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and move to deregulation in many developing countries are products of this disillusionment. But the real lesson of these changes is not the supremacy of one economic system over another. It is the realization that political will and governmental action never was or could be adequate to the task of national development. Only the will of society, which is reflected in the will of democratic governments and can be educated and called forth by its initiatives, has the power to transform the society.

The primary failing was not the inadequacy of governments, however much they may merit that attribution, but rather the inadequacy of our understanding of the development process. The need today is for theory, policies and strategies that embody these lessons. We need strategies that more effectively harness the capacities that government does possess as a catalyst to direct and channel the will of society for more rapid progress. Our concept of development as an initiative by government through bureaucratic administration of sectoral programs must be replaced by a theory, policy and practice that view society as the center of initiative and social forces as the main instrumentation.

The Individual and the Collective Dimensions

Economic development strategy emphasizes the strengthening of social capacity by building up physical infrastructure, production facilities and commercial organizations and by creating a conducive environment for increasing economic activity through appropriate laws, fiscal, monetary and trade policies. Human development strategies focuses primarily on improving the welfare and capacities of the individual through better health, education, political choice and economic opportunity. Together they encompass the two basic components of all development--micro and macro, personal and institutional, individual and collective.

The individual and the collective are two sides of human existence and the same laws hold true for both. The development of individual behavior to form personality and of collective behavior to create social organization are parallel processes. The challenge is to simultaneously develop the capacities and utilize the potentials of both in a complementary manner. For the individual, development involves acquisition of greater knowledge and understanding, new attitudes and behaviors, values, skills, capacities and talents. For the collective, development involves establishment of more useful and productive institutions, systems and organizations. The 20th Century has been one of unprecedented achievements in science and technology. It has also been a century of unprecedented creativity and accomplishment in the fashioning of more effective social systems and institutions combining to form an ever more complex and integrated global organization of human activity. The development of organization has given birth to a vast array of new social institutions whose aim is to support virtually every type of human activity--political, economic, social, educational, scientific and cultural.

Three Components

Development is the process of the human mind seeking higher levels of accomplishment by expressing itself through higher levels of skills and more effective social institutions. It is the process of individuals and societies progressively discovering, developing and expressing more and more of their creative and productive potentials and utilizing those potentials to respond creatively and dynamically to challenges and opportunities in the external environment by learning new skills, fashioning new institutions, inventing new technologies and initiating new activities that lead to higher productivity, welfare and well-being. It is essentially a psychological and social process of increasing awareness, knowledge, energy, skill and organization that manifests externally in terms of the quality of our material existence.

Development takes place at several levels:

  • Physically, it leads to acquisition of skill and technology.
  • Socially, it leads to the establishment of systems and institutions.
  • Mentally, it leads to the formulation of knowledge and education.
  • Culturally, it leads to the acceptance and expression of higher values.

There are three essential components of this process: mental, social and physical. Man knows, organizes and expresses himself.

  • Observation leads to understanding that matures into conscious knowledge .
  • Effort leads to skill that matures into capacity and talent.
  • Collective activity leads to efficient systems and organization.

Unlike material resources which are diminished the more they are exploited, the more this human potential is developed and utilized, the greater it becomes. No longer are material limits the primary obstacles to our progress. The major problems facing humanity--poverty, unemployment, pollution, violence and crime--are made by people and they can be solved by people. They are problems of human development that can be solved by changes in our understanding, institutions and behavior.

Development is a product of the human imagination formulating new ideas, new activities, new goals to accomplish and then releasing and directing its energies to achieve them. There is no final goal to be achieved, no end to the process, no limit to its capabilities.

"But with information now the dominant resource, the most important factor that limits expansion of work is not land or raw material or capital equipment or transportation, but the ultimate components of dynamism: science, technology, values and social organization--in a word, the human imagination."

The Process

The process of development is kindled by isolated pioneering acts of individuals, institutions and social groups. As these new activities come to be accepted and supported by the society, they spread slowly or swiftly and are gradually taken up by more and more people. The movement culminates in a self-generating, self-multiplying dynamism that keeps expanding horizontally and vertically until it saturates the society at one level. New technology, spread of education, new systems such as hire purchase and franchise, new institutions like fast food and courier services all develop in this manner.

The fundamental driving force for this process is the awakening and release of social energies expressing as new ideas, new attitudes, new beliefs, new institutions, new activities and new products. The key to the movement is that the new activity must appeal to the current social aspirations of the people. The release of social energies is stimulated by a greater awareness of opportunities and challenges, particularly by awareness of the successful practices of other individuals and societies. Successful initiatives of pioneers are observed and imitated by others when their actions enable them to achieve some socially valued goal or status. A stage comes when society decides to encourage imitation of the new behavior by creating systems or institutions to support it. At a later stage, the knowledge and skill needed for the activity is incorporated in the training which parents give to their children or in school curricula.

Experience shows that even when all the enabling external conditions have been met, development does not occur unless along with opportunity there is also an awareness, understanding and aspiration that can be fulfilled by a change in economic behavior. In the 1950s the government built a hundred new high schools in rural towns throughout South India to promote education, but the population was not yet aware or convinced of the value of education, so very few parents enrolled their children and most of the schools were closed or later converted into primary schools. The population failed to respond to this opportunity because it had not yet come to recognize the importance of education. Two decades later every school was filled to overflowing and demand exceeded supply. The real gap was social, not material.

The key questions for formulating effective development strategies are: How to generate greater awareness that releases positive social energies for greater accomplishment? How to create the appropriate organization to channel these social energies efficiently and effectively? How to impart the skills needed by the individual to benefit from the new activity? This approach leads to emphasis on strategies that directly increase the quantity and quality of information, understanding, motivation, skill, productive systems and social organization. These are the key levers of development.

The necessary change in perspective can be summarized in the following manner:

From To
  • Unconscious growth based on trial and error experience
  • Conscious development based on an understanding of the process.
  • Development as status and goal.
  • Development as dynamic process.
  • Political will expressing through government programs as the prime mover.
  • Social will expressing through social initiative as the main driving force.
  • Sectoral approach.
  • Integrated (whole)
  • Emphasis on physical infrastructure and monetary inputs.
  • Emphasis on social inputs (knowledge, organisation, and skills).
  • Government focus on public enterprises.
  • Government emphasis on social issues.

Tapping Unutilized Potentials

The conventional view that development is essentially a function of scarce economic inputs is giving way to the perception that the opportunities and potentials for rapid development far exceed actual achievements in every country. Looking back over the past few decades, we realize that the speed of social progress could certainly have been much greater than it was. This is especially obvious in less developed countries and at lower levels of society where there is a large visible gap between social opportunities (educational, technological, entrepreneurial, etc.) and individual pursuit of them.

The tremendous potential for accelerating development is most easily illustrated by instances in which actual achievements substantially excelled expectations, such as the enormous leap in Indian agriculture during the late 1960s. At a time when India had to import massive quantities of foodgrains on an emergence basis to avoid widespread famine, the Indian government proclaimed the goal of achieving complete self-sufficiency in foodgrains and launched its Green Revolution program. Contrary to the prediction by an expert international team that the country’s foodgrain production would rise by a maximum of only a ten per cent over the coming seven years, it actually increased by 50 per cent in five years and 100 per cent in a decade. China’s phenomenal growth of incomes, employment and exports over the last decade is an equally astonishing achievement.

These unforeseen and unexpected accomplishments reflect the magnitude of potentials that these countries possessed but had not previously utilized. Every country possesses untapped potentials of this magnitude waiting to be uncovered. The same is true of the most advanced industrial nations, even though there are no more advanced countries to point to for purposes of comparison. As a nation develops, the unutilized potentials continue to develop also in proportion to that accomplishment. That is the meaning of human resourcefulness. Were this not the case, humanity would have exhausted its potentials long ago.

The world today possesses an enormous reservoir of unutilized human skills and capacities, proven technology, practically valuable information, untapped markets, underdeveloped resources, legal expertise, and administrative and organizational know-how. We now know that it is possible to produce all the food needed to support many times the current population of the world without any soil at all and with only a small fraction of the water now expended on food production. Similarly, our industrial production systems are capable of producing in such large volumes that many countries could produce the entire world’s requirement of one or more essential products. Medical technology makes it possible to eradicate many types of disease that are still prevalent. Yet famine, poverty and high mortality rates continue to exist. Many societies are still unable to utilize the available resources sufficiently to meet even minimum needs. No society has demonstrated the capacity to utilize these resources fully for maximum benefit.

A huge surge in development can be achieved if every socially available resource and potential is fully utilized by the people--if every capable youth, male and female, continues education up to the level of their highest aptitude; if every family employs all the health care knowledge and best practices known by the society; if every government self-employment program and training program is fully utilized; if all known technology for improving agriculture is widely publicized and put to practice. The highest priority must be to evolve strategies for utilizing these vast social resources more effectively.

The untapped resources of the society can be categorized under several headings:

  • Information that creates awareness of opportunities.
  • Skills that improve quality or productivity.
  • Proven technologies that can be beneficially applied.
  • Successful systems that can be imitated.
  • Organizational arrangements that promote cooperative, coordination or wider sphere of activity.
  • Social attitudes that foster self-confidence, individual initiative, and positive responses to new opportunities.
  • Education that imparts progressive social values and practically useful perspectives.
  • Development oriented laws, policies and programs that can be more fully implemented.

The magnitude of this potential can be illustrated by a single example of food production in India. Table I compares India’s average yields on major crops with the world average and the world’s highest yielding producer.



Average Yield (Kg/Ha)

World Average Yield


Highest Average Yielding Country


Rice 2,576 3,581 8,843
Maize 1,474 3,527 8,500
Wheat 2,226 2,441 7,447
Soybean 868 1,832 3,188

Proven technology already exists within India capable of raising the country’s average yields well above the world average for each of these crops, whatever the physical and financial constraints that may exist. The real limiting factors are inadequate dissemination of information about best practices and success stories, inadequate skills in employing these methods, inadequate organizational arrangements for marketing and processing, as well as out-moded policies and attitudes about the food self-sufficiency and the role of agriculture in the national economy. These factors all relate directly to the understanding, motivation, skill and organization in the agricultural sector. They are the very same factors which were tapped in the mid 1960s to launch India’s Green Revolution. Since then technology has improved, the population has become more educated, market demand is greater, commercial systems and institutions are more dynamic.

To document the validity of this approach and illustrate the existence of these potentials, ICPF recently conducted a study of agricultural potentials in India. The conclusion of that study was that India has the potential to double its annual growth rate in agriculture, utilizing this sector as an engine to drive the growth of the whole economy and to create sufficient job opportunities to raise its entire population above the poverty line by the year 2000. The strategy seeks to achieve these goals by tapping underutilized social resources--information, organization, technology, and skills.

Part II: Strategies and Recommendations

The first part of this report has presented the elements of a comprehensive theory of development as a social process. The second part applies these principles by examining the scope, need and benefits of utilizing human social resources more fully and effectively to accelerate development in developing and developed countries as well as Eastern European nations and the international community. The objective of this section is to illustrate the types of strategies that issue from the perspective presented in part one. More specific and detailed recommendations will be presented in part three, which has not yet been completed.

Gradients of Development

Measures and indices help us conceive and quantify possibilities. As comparison of more developed and less developed societies or a comparison of a rapidly growing society over time reveals a clear scale of progression in terms of economic growth indices and UNDP’s Human Development Index, a similar progression can be observed in the utilization of social resources described above--awareness, knowledge, information, skill, organization, technology, etc. Increasing the utilization of any of these resources leads to the development of the society. Comparing the status of these resources in different societies helps us identify the scope for imitation and further improvement.

Information as a Stimulus

Knowledge stimulates development. The rapid dissemination of information in modern society makes possible a more rapid transformation of society. President Gorbachev understood the transforming power of knowledge when he proclaimed his policy of glasnost, opening up the cloistered Soviet society to events in the outer world, creating widespread awareness of the alternative approaches and achievements of other nations, releasing the people's aspiration for a better life and giving scope for the expression of their pent-up energies. Knowledge brought down the Berlin Wall, ended the Cold War and ushered the world into a new era.

Knowledge of opportunities and potentials is an essential ingredient, a catalyst, of the development process. In the past, development strategies have tended to place too little emphasis on the power of public awareness to release people's energies and initiative on a massive scale. The vast accumulation of knowledge and new technologies for rapid dissemination of information that the world possesses today can be utilized to increase the speed of change, eliminate many false starts and wrong turns and much unnecessary suffering. The speed and extent of knowledge transfer are far from optimal between and within nations--even within industrially advanced nations--due to lack of information, out-dated attitudes and beliefs, lingering superstitions, and conventional wisdom.

Developing Countries

Ignorance and skepticism about new opportunities are characteristic of development at each stage and in every field of activity. Developmental opportunities exist but are very often not exploited because of insufficient or wrong information. Conventional wisdom, tradition and superstition retard acceptance of new ideas. Teak wood is a high value, high profit crop, traditionally grown in hilly areas of South India. For decades farmers refused to believe that it could be grown commercially at sea level. Recently some enterprising companies established large scale teak plantations as an investment scheme for the urban middle class and suddenly the crop is being planted over large areas.

Information about success stories spur people to action. In South India coconut was traditionally grown as a plantation crop without addition of water or manure. When one pioneering entrepreneur started irrigating and fertilizing his trees, people in the community laughed. When his yields increased ten-fold, every local farmer started imitating his example. Yet information travels slowly in developing countries. In one cashew growing area, farmers achieve eight times higher yields by irrigating and fertilizing the trees. Amazingly, just ten miles away farmers believe it is just a rumor and refuse to imitate this practice, because it has not been presented to them by a credible source of information.

It is a common experience in developing countries that after years of inaction, new activities can suddenly catch on like wild fire. Although the technology had been popular in the West for more than a decade, in 1975 it was not possible to find a photocopy shop in New Delhi. Three years later there were more than 20 photocopy shops on a single street in the center of the capital. By 1981 instant copy businesses could be found in almost every rural town. This advancement occurred after one pioneering entrepreneur introduced the first machine. The example of the pioneer broke through an invisible social barrier and became a catalyst of change throughout the country.

Enormous potentials are waiting to catch the attention of the society and take off at this moment. Proven technology exists in many fields that await application because people do not know or do not believe that it can be employed successfully. Imitation of intensive aquaculture methods commonly employed by farmers in Taiwan and Singapore can raise average fish yields in South Asian, African and Latin American countries 25-fold. Advanced methods for micro nutrient management can double or quadruple fruit and vegetable yields in most developing countries. A complete list of proven but untapped technologies and commercial opportunities can be compiled for each country, each region and local area. Programs can be initiated to publicize information about these potentials, to demonstrate their successful application, to encourage entrepreneurs and to foster healthy imitation.

Often the information is already known, but it is not supported by convincing evidence. Twenty years ago, Nobel prize winning economist Arthur Lewis wrote about the power of agricultural development to spur industrialization. Yet his idea did not gain full credibility in India until an ICPF study demonstrated statistically that an emphasis on commercial agriculture and agro-based industry could stimulate creation of 100 million new jobs in India during the next ten years, sufficient to achieve near full employment. Converting a known idea into a statistic increases its impact on the educated population.

What is true of economic or commercial opportunities is also true of health, education, environment, government and management. Abundant potential exists for upgrading performance in all these fields through dissemination of reliable, appropriately packaged information by a credible source. Government departments, universities and scientific organizations are usually not well-equipped for this purpose. Non-governmental field agencies do perform this role for specific types of information in a local area or region. The acceptance of new information depends very much on the perceived credibility of the source. In developing countries, the government is often the only agency with the prestige and credibility to educate public opinion. In more educationally advanced nations, the opinions of expert individuals and institutions have greater influence. But everywhere, public opinion is reluctant to abandon its present convictions. Even scientists tend to accept only what comes from a prestigious person or institution.

The media can play an invaluable role in disseminating relevant information to the public. Education has dramatically increased the percentage of the population reading newspapers and periodicals. Radio reaches everywhere and TV coverage is rapidly being extended to outlying rural areas. But in order to fully utilize the media as an instrument for development, the type and quality of information being carried in most developing countries must be radically improved. There is need for establishment of specialized agencies, perhaps in the form of public foundations or research institutions, with the capacity, independence and credibility to research and project information about unutilized technological, organizational, educational and commercial potentials that can spur development. The functions of these agencies would be:

  • to identify critical gaps in information needed to stimulate development in various fields.
  • to conduct or commission studies to document improved practices in agriculture, business, education, health, government, media, etc.
  • to develop public educational campaigns to disseminate information on new opportunities and untapped potentials.
  • to commission films, novels, short stories and syndicated columns to communicate developmental information in readily acceptable forms.
  • to support pioneering examples of new or improved activities in different fields.
  • to establish programs to encourage others to imitate successful pioneers.
  • to recognize and reward pioneers, innovators and high achievers.

A modest investment of this type can accelerate adoption of new activities, magnify the response to government programs, and double the total developmental achievements of a country over the next five years.

Eastern Europe

The populations of the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are highly educated but long deprived of free access to information. Recent economic reforms have dramatically increased the importance of information in the functioning of the economy. Under the old command system, a few people in Moscow took decisions which millions of Soviet citizens carried out. When scientific research indicated that plowing back rice straw enriched yields, a central decision was taken to adopt the practice on farms throughout the country. But now that the command system has been abolished and the members of each state and collective farm are legal owners and decision-makers, millions of individuals participate in making economic decisions.

A shortage of information about economic principles, commercial opportunities and successful practices outside the country is a severe limitation to development. When a team of visiting economists tried to explain that smaller size farms could be operated more efficiently, Russian farm managers and economists cited the example of large corporate American farms as principle evidence to refute this argument, unaware that the average farm in the U.S. is only one-hundredth the size of the average Russian state farm. The macro economic reforms introduced to free prices and legalize private property cannot generate the desired results, unless the population is also given easy access and exposure to a very wide range of essential information on new technologies, legal reforms, trade potentials, self-employment opportunities and modern management practices. The plethora of new laws, regulations and deregulations being enacted in these countries has the population baffled and bewildered regarding what is now legal or illegal, acceptable or impermissible. During the past year alone the Russian government has enacted 40 new laws relating to the field of agriculture, of which most people, including the principal beneficiaries, are either ignorant or confused. The transition of these nations can be significantly accelerated by systematic dissemination of economically important information to the rural population regarding potentials in agriculture, industry, technology, commerce, management and law. Similar efforts are required in urban areas and in other fields such as politics, public administration, international relations, education, social institutions and health.

Educating Public Opinion in the Industrialized Nations

Even in the information-rich West, where the average citizen is overwhelmed by a continuous barrage of ideas, opinions and so-called 'facts' of varying accuracy and credibility from myriad sources, there is a need for more reliable information. This superabundance conceals gaping holes of ignorance. American foreign policy toward the USSR in the 1980s was certainly influenced by the fact that, as recently as 1988, more than 50% of Americans believed the Soviets fought against the United States in World War II. The irrational alarm which economists sounded in the late 1970s about the impact of inflation on the poor in the U.S. overshadowed compelling evidence published by a leading economic institution that poorer Americans were actually better off and it was primarily the rich who were less advantaged by the price rise. Current debate on the issue of foreign aid to Eastern Europe is complicated because too few Americans understand how the Marshall Plan stimulated the growth of Western Europe and the U.S. economy in the 1950s. Attitudes toward the future of trade relations and the need for protectionism are colored and complicated by a lack of understanding of the extent to which the entire world economy benefits from an open trade regime. This ignorance and confusion powerfully affect public attitudes and perceptions within countries and, thus, the quality of domestic and foreign policy.

The industrialized nations excel in the dissemination of information on economic and commercial issues. Even here there is considerable scope for increasing awareness in areas such as self-employment opportunities, the linkage between education and career development, management practices, foreign trade opportunities, etc. The debate in North America over NAFTA is obscured by lack of clear information regarding its impact on the countries involved. The importance of continuous investment in training is often ignored by all but the most advanced corporations. Quality and service have only recently gained recognition as critical factors in business success, while other important ingredients are still neglected.

As economic development advances, society gives increasing importance to progress on other social issues and to the psychological growth of the individual. This transition has been gaining momentum in the West since the 1960s. Drugs, crime, ethnic and race relations, environment, health, education, child care, and the life of the elderly are increasingly sources of public concern. Ignorance and superstition demoralize the population and make effective social action difficult in these areas. Revolutionary techniques in early child education have been ignored in the West for decades due to superstitions regarding the proper age for children to learn how to read, despite the testimony of hundreds of thousands of parents that preschool children can learn language, reading and math skills much faster, easier and more enjoyably than older students and that the process can strengthen parent-child relationships, foster a love of learning, dramatically raise IQ scores, and improve the social and psychological adjustment of the child. Research indicates that as much as 90% of illness in the West is psychosomatic in origin. An effective program of public education covering prevention and treatment of these disorders could significantly reduce the incidence, eliminating much personal suffering and saving billions of dollars.

Society is changing more rapidly than ever before. Development generates real tensions in the society from consequences that we do not anticipate when the changes are taking place. The liberation of women from confinement to the traditional roles of mother and housewife through education and entry into the work force is directly linked to social problems arising from the breakdown of the family. The greater respect and freedom for the individual in society which coincides with a shift away from authoritarian behaviors has resulted in a breakdown in discipline as well. The gap between the new values and old methods leads to friction and confusion. People try to resolve the tensions generated by development in old ways that are no longer effective, e.g. using authority where education is required. These problems can be minimized by educating the public to understand the changes taking place and to adopt appropriate new behaviors. Sources of tension in society related to pollution, youth, the aged and crime can also be mitigated in this way.

Impact of Information on Global Issues

The need for information is even greater at the international level, where there are innumerable opinions and prejudices but far too few facts and no real models for the world community to emulate or imitate in its unconscious groping toward a new world order. In the emerging world, more and more it is public opinion rather than government authority that sets the direction for social change. Internationally, public opinion is an even more important determinant, since the authority of global institutions is still quite limited.

The revival of nationalistic sentiments and racism around the world is directly counter to the movement toward unification we see taking shape in Western Europe. Unbridled nationalism--which usually feeds on a short-sighted perception of immediate advantage and ignores the far greater long-term benefits of association--threatens national integrity and regional stability in Canada, India, Russia, Yugoslavia and many other countries and impedes progress toward regional cooperation and global governance. The republics of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia are today reeling under the unexpected shock of economic disunion. Too little thought was given to quantifying and publicizing the gains and losses from the fragmentation of states and the long term impact on economic growth and living standards. Today the industrialized nations are ignorant to what extent their economic malaise is the result of economic decline in Eastern Europe. Policy makers and citizens in the West are equally unaware of how important accelerated growth in developing countries, which represent huge untapped sources of unsatisfied demand, is to future growth in their own countries, where demand is becoming more and more saturated.

Superstitious fears of inflation have become so prevalent internationally that the direct relationship between increasing social value of the individual and rising prices is completely overlooked. Development raises social aspirations and expectations and prompts the individual to want and demand a greater return for his labor. When the farm laborer is no longer willing to work all day for a subsistence level wage and the factory worker insists on owning a house or a motor scooter, regardless of whether or not their productivity has increased, then prices rise and the economic value of the worker relative to other factors and the social value of the individual rise too. Blind insistence on inflation fighting and budget balancing can significantly retard development, as it has in many developing countries that unquestioningly accept the superstition. Educating the public to understand the causes and possible benefits of moderate levels of inflation and debt is a prerequisite for more intelligent public policy initiatives by government.

Myriad international negotiations on debt, trade, aid and the environment are complicated by the absence of any clear vision or consensus as to the type of future world economy we are striving to evolve and the opportunities that greater economic integration will generate for all nations to further improve their standard of living. The international economic and financial institutions are so focused on current issues that too little thought is given to the emerging potentials, likely composition and optimal structure for the world economy in the coming century. There is, for example, no comprehensive model of the global economy, world trade or world labor markets that can reliably indicate the likely results of alternative policies at the international level. Very often these institutions are compelled to endorse policies favored by member states, rather than those justified by impartial analysis.

The international information gap has been partially filled by the work of international commissions, institutions and non-governmental agencies. But the need and the untapped potential are still great. Most of these organizations focus on narrow or short-term issues. They cannot be expected to provide the breadth of vision and perspective needed to set new directions for the world community. However thorough their research or objective their analysis, they usually lack the credibility to carry conviction with various interest groups.

There is need to significantly strengthen international efforts with the assistance of leading thinkers:

  • to evolve a vision of what the world will be like in 2025, 2050 and 2100 and to identify steps that can be taken now to accelerate development toward fulfillment of that vision decades sooner.
  • to examine current problems and potentials at the international level and project appropriate views, facts, perspectives needed to educate world leaders and international and national public opinion to deal effectively with the issues.
  • to commission studies by experts to obtain facts where they are wanting, compile statistical evidence where arguments alone are not convincing, and evolve solutions where they are needed. The studies can be directed to meet information needs at the level of leaders in politics, economics, business, and education and of the general public at the national and international level.
  • to project the findings and recommendations on key issues through press statements, articles and published reports.
  • to compile bluebooks of essential information for people in different positions and levels--ambassadors, businessmen, government leaders, etc.


The march of humanity is marked by the development of wider and higher organizations. Society supports new activities and encourages people to imitate the achievements of pioneers by establishing new institutions, organizations, systems, laws and policies. These organizations harness the awakened energies of the society and direct them for productive pursuits. Society continuously advances in its capacity to fashion ever more efficient and effective types of organization. The establishment of new and innovative social institutions has been an especially important ingredient in global progress during the post-war period. These institutions, both public and private, serve society in an incredibly wide range of functions: commercial, financial, industrial, export, research, educational, training, health and recreation. They enable society to encourage, support, standardize, regulate and control certain activities by institutionalizing them.

The magnitude and complexity of the organization that supports development cannot be understood by looking at the macro level. It is best seen by a minute examination of the processes by which the society carries out small, routine activities. Society consists of a miraculous web of accepted systems, conventions, habits, and customs that govern the way it operates--like the laws and practices that govern the flow of high speed automobile traffic on busy thoroughfares and through complex intersections. The sophistication and effectiveness of this web depends on the knowledge, attitudes and skills of countless individuals and on the procedures and institutions that have been established to govern their interaction. These are the fundamental building blocks of development.

Social systems are the established procedures and accepted mechanisms by which society conducts its activities. Systems play an equally important role in releasing and supporting social dynamism. But because they are not as visible as institutions, their importance is often neglected. Thousands of such systems have been fashioned by human resourcefulness to support development in different fields. As the system of mortgage has enabled a majority of middle class Americans and Europeans to purchase their own homes, the road transport industry in India grew exponentially in the 1970s because the hire or lease purchase system made it possible for many small entrepreneurs to purchase buses and lorries and pay for them out their future earnings. The system of franchising has led to a rapid proliferation of new businesses in many countries. The credit rating system enables companies and individuals to purchase goods and services on credit terms, thereby geometrically expanding the volume of commerce. The Yellow pages or classified business listings enable customers to easily locate the products and services they require. Systems for standardization of product quality protect the consumer and prompt people to buy more. The system of warehouse receipts enables American grain traders to purchase unseen crops with full confidence in their quality. The absence of this simple system retards trade on the recently established commodity markets in Russia and other CIS countries.

The combination and coordination of systems creates higher order potentials that neither of the separate systems possess in themselves. The combination of computers and telecommunications has launched a worldwide revolution in information, communication, transportation, financial services, marketing, industrial production, scientific research, education, defense and other fields. The linking of franchising with lease purchase enables many more entrepreneurs to go into business for themselves with ready-made products, services, marketing outlets, advertising programs and customer base. The possible permutations and combinations are endless and so is the potential productivity they can generate.

Organization is an limitless resource for development that determines the productivity and harmony of relationship and interaction between people, systems, institutions and activities. As the last century has unleashed the powers of physical technology, in the next humanity must master the technology of organization.

Developing Countries

New institutions lie behind the success of most major development achievements. India’s Green Revolution was as much as product of new quasi governmental institutions as it was of new farm technology. The Food Corporation of India was established to provide farmers with a guaranteed market and remunerative price for their surplus production and to distribute the surpluses in food deficit regions. The Fertilizer Corporation was set up to ensure availability of the chemicals essential for higher yields. Seed corporations were responsible for producing and distributing the new hybrid seeds. Warehousing Corporation build and managed the storage facilities needed to house the large increase in grain production. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research became the apex body to coordinate agricultural research and educational activities in the country. In a similar manner, India’s dairy revolution was made possible by the establishment of the National Dairy Development Board which acted as an apex body to assist the establishment and coordinated functioning of tens of thousands of local cooperatives owned by ten of millions of tiny scale milk producers. Many developing countries have established specialized agencies to promote industry and foreign trade--industrial estates and industrial investment corporations, export-import banks, export promotion councils, export processing zones and the like.

Thirty years ago government was the only agency capable of investing and managing activities on so massive a scale. Today the society is more developed and mature and many of these functions are now handled more efficiently in the private sector. The main issue is not whether new institutions should be owned and operated by government or by the private sector. That varies from country to country according to the stage of development. The key is to identify the institutional gaps that retard more rapid development in different fields and take steps to fill these gaps either by creatively adapting institutional models that have proved successful elsewhere or by inventing new forms appropriate to specific conditions. Whatever the model chosen, it will be successful only in the measure it is linked to the social urge of the population and helps channel the social energies more effectively than before.

Wherever a country fails to live up to its natural potentials, some such institutional gap will be present. In examining the potentials of commercial agriculture and agro-exports in India, ICPF identified critical missing links in the field of horticulture which prevented the exploitation of the country’s natural competitive advantage in fruit and vegetable production. In most instances tiny scale producers sell their produce locally for marginal profit, because they lack the organizational and managerial capabilities to arrange for storage, processing and distribution and marketing of perishable commodities. Low profit margins during peak season discourage expansion of the area under cultivation. Recently the State of Maharashtra took steps to supply the necessary institutional infrastructure by establishing a complete chain of cooling, handling and distribution facilities linking the rural areas with urban and export markets. Government efforts have been quickly multiplied by private enterprise leading to a dramatic growth in high value added farm output, rural employment and food exports.

Imitation and extension of proven systems to new fields and areas can significantly magnify the benefits of development. The system of registered crops has been successfully employed by India’s sugar mills for decades to contract out sugarcane production to small farmers and provide a guaranteed price and market for their crop along with credit facilities and inputs to assist cultivation. The extension of this system to fruits, vegetables and flower crops can stimulate a rapid increase in their production.

China’s phenomenal achievements in rural enterprise and employment generation were made possible by the establishment of a new type of institution--the township and village industries. Over the past decade, thousands of these privately owned and managed enterprises have been set up. A unique system has been forged to provide these enterprises close linkages with scientific institutions to provide for the transfer of improved production technologies. These enterprises now represent 16.5 percent of all businesses in China and employ 22 percent of the total workforce.

What India has done for foodgrains and milk production and China has done for rural industry can be done by every state and every country to promote development in different sectors. A comparative study of institutions and systems in more and less developed regions and countries for every major sector will make it possible to construct accurate scales and reliable road maps for more rapid development.

Eastern Europe & CIS

The crucial importance of institutions is clearly evident in the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union which are in the process of establishing market economies. These countries already possess highly educated and skilled work forces and relatively sophisticated industrial infrastructure. But most of the social institutions that served under the centralized command system need to be transformed out of recognition or entirely replaced in order to support a market oriented system--commodity and stock exchanges, credit and collection agencies, land and mortgage banks, producers’ cooperatives and buying groups, wholesale marketing organizations and distributorships, securities brokers and regulators, commercial law and tax accounting firms, medical insurers and pension funds, management training and consulting firms, trade and professional associations, private television and radio networks, public power utilities and private telecommunication corporations.

The effort for economic reform in these countries has focused primarily on changing laws and public policy. The task of revamping the institutional infrastructure needed to support a market economy has received far too little attention. Russia is in the process of encouraging large scale privatization of agriculture and creation of private farms. Yet the country lacks even a rudimentary agricultural extension service to provide individual farmers with technical and commercial information. Under the old system of large state and collective farms, each farm could afford to have its own specialized technical staff, so an extension system was not essential. Under the new system it will play a critical role. Similar gaps exists in every field. The absence of these essential institutions is largely responsible for the dramatic increase in illegal activities in these countries. The recent success of the Polish stock exchange shows that the establishment of these institutions need not take many years to accomplish. A complete listing of essential institutions, small and large, should be compiled based on the experience of other nations and plans drawn up for introducing them.

Industrialized Nations

Even in the most industrially advanced nations, new institutions are continuously conceived and born. Rising environmental concern has led to the proliferation of recycling and waste management organizations. The problem in urban poverty in the U.S. has given rise to a variety of new institutions designed to promote entrepreneurship and job opportunities, training, housing and community effort. Business incubators have proved successful in promoting new businesses by providing small enterprises with affordable office space, shared staff and equipment, and financial and marketing assistance.

The Atlanta Project is a highly innovative, non-governmental experiment seeking to establish a new type of organizational setup for addressing inner city poverty. The city has been divided into a number of districts. Major corporate sponsors and trained project staff are assigned to work with citizens in each district to identify and evolve solutions to the community’s most serious problems. Project staff then coordinate their efforts with over 100 local, state and federal agencies. The eventual solution of all the problems still plaguing society today will depend on the establishment of new or better institutions and systems.

Organizing the Global Community

Thus far, the development of social organizations like the development of technologies has been partial, piecemeal and sectoral, leaving large gaps between parallel and interrelated activities and institutions. This is especially obvious today at the international level where the organization of the collective social life of humanity is fragmentary and rudimentary, though far more complete that it was a few decades ago. Humanity has not yet been able to fashion a total organization truly suited to fulfill the aspirations of the entire society.

In spite of the phenomenal growth in global communications, transportation, commerce, finance and tourism, the fact remains that it is still more difficult to carry out most activities internationally than it is domestically because the international activities are not as well organized. Transfer of technology is a case in point. Thousands of companies in developing countries are seeking information and collaborations with corporate counterparts in developed nations, while at the same time Western corporations are constantly in search of new collaborators and customers in developing countries. Yet the search in both directions is largely by trial and error and personal reference, because the field of technology transfer is not yet fully organized the way commodity sales are organized in London and Chicago or global trade in flowers are organized in the Netherlands, which handles 68% of world trade in cut flowers. Even within and between developing countries, the absence of effective institutions and systems retards transfer of proven technology from the laboratory to the field or factory, from one company to another, one country to another. The countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States possess valuable technologies which may be particularly suited to applications in developing countries, but for want of an institutional mechanism, it is difficult to find appropriate matches. Governments have proved to be inadequate mechanisms for technology transfer, because they lack both the technical and commercial expertise and the sense of urgency. International transfer of technology within and between developing countries can be facilitated by establishing new institutions that function on commercial lines and channel back the profits from technologies sales to support research activities in developing countries.

Every unmet social need can be addressed through the fashioning of new and more effective social institutions and systems. As society advances, much more can be done in the private sector, by both for-profit and non-profit agencies. The failure of centrally-planned and controlled economies does not contradict this view. The market economy is as much dependent on systems, institutions and regulation as that of former communist states. The main difference is that the market economies have been more successful in fashioning organizational mechanisms that support rather than stifle human initiative and creativity. The reaction against the lethargy, waste and impersonality of bureaucratic organizations permeates every society today. Too often people have felt oppressed by the social institutions that have been established to serve them. This should not lead us to reject these incredible products of human resourcefulness. Rather it should compel us to become more imaginative and innovative in adapting and adopting systems and institutions to better serve the needs of the individual and the community.

Velocity of Social Forces

The higher the level of development, the faster everything moves. The more developed the society, the faster it communicates new ideas and new information, develops new technologies and products, establishes new systems and institutions, adopts new policies and laws, transports goods, delivers services and carries out activities. Money, information, education, technology, public opinion, training, administrative decisions, transport, communication are powerful social forces and resources. Their productivity is directly proportionate to the speed with which they are employed. Like the land that is utilized for only one cropping season a year when it is capable of yielding two crops, slower movement and utilization of these resources is directly linked to the overall productivity and development of society.

In the most industrially advanced nations, money circulates far more rapidly than in less developed countries. Banking transactions, money transfers, collection and reinvestment of funds occur more quickly. The velocity of money in the West is roughly 2.5 to 3 times higher than in the average developing country. Increasing velocity multiplies the use value and productivity of money. The industrialized nations are constantly seeking to improve technology, management methods, systems and organizations to further increase the velocity of money. The same is true for information, technology, training, transport and other factors. Increasing the speed of dissemination of information and new technology can accelerate the creation of new businesses and new jobs.

In many developing countries, governments control and determine the movement of these resources to a very large extent. Inefficient bureaucracies are slow to take decisions, issue licenses, review applications, sanction loans, and amend legislation. This inefficiency directly impacts on the pace of development, but because it is difficult to measure, the extent of the losses it inflicts are seldom recognized or addressed. Streamlining and expediting decision making and movement of social resources is a highly effective strategy for spurring development. Comparative scales need to be created to measure the movement of each of these social forces within and between nations. Strategies can be evolved to stimulate more rapid overall development by directly acting to increase velocity of these forces up to ten-fold or even more.


Ultimately it is skills that determine the productivity of humanity’s ideas, energies, institutions and technologies. No matter how brilliant the idea, how excellent the organization or how advanced the technology, human skills preside over the activity and determine the outcome. An enormous range and depth of physical, technical, organizational, managerial and social skills are needed by society in order to utilize the power of technology, institutions and systems to achieve concrete developmental results. These skills admit of constant and continuous improvement without limit in the same way that technology and organization can always be further improved. A comparative survey of the level and quality of skills in any country with those of countries above and below it on scales of economic and human development will reveal the crucial role of skills in development. The phenomenal economic growth of Singapore, S. Korea, and more recently Thailand are the direct result of the massive investments these countries have made in upgrading the skills of the workforce. More than 50 percent of the increase in productivity achieved by E. Asian countries over the past three decades is attributable to investment in education and skills. A scale of progression on key skills can help every country identify its relative position, assess the scope for further progress and evolve strategies to fill the gap. Raise the skills of society to those of countries higher up on the scale and the country will move to that position.

Developing Countries

In spite of the tremendous effort and investment that has gone into upgrading skills in developing countries in recent decades, the true importance of this resource is still vastly underestimated. Physical infrastructure, money and more recently macroeconomic policy attract much greater attention and receive far higher priority. Yet perhaps nothing can contribute more to stimulating development than greater investment in upgrading the productive skills of the nation.

India, for example, has established an elaborate system of technical education and training consisting of world class technology institutes at the top, supported by engineering colleges, industrial training institutes and other training facilities for basic technical skills. Yet today there is a huge shortage of quality vocational skills among the huge number of people at lower levers of the society who seek desperately to raise their standard of living. The export potential for Indian engineering goods is severely constrained by a shortage of qualified tool and die makers. In most regions even carpenters, electricians, masons and mechanics are in short supply, and where sufficient number exists, quality work is difficult to find. The technical training infrastructure is inadequate at the lower levels. Establishment of craft and vocational training institutes at the local level in every community can impart a wide range of basic technical skills to complete the hierarchy of technical institutes and saturate the population with basic skills for development. At higher levels, large numbers of educated unemployed coexist with commercial opportunities for which trained personnel are lacking. A recent study estimated that software exports could provide employment for 200,000 Indian engineers compared to only 7000 qualified persons who are presently available. A massive program of basic vocational and skills training should be launched in every developing country on a parallel with the 100% literacy programs that are now being promoted to wipe out rural illiteracy. The military in many developing countries possesses the organizational capabilities and experience with intensive training to assist with this task.

The same institutional gap exists in agricultural training systems. In India, agricultural colleges and universities train researchers, government and bank employees, but not farmers. District level agricultural polytechnics train lower level employees and do provide some training to farmers, but only a tiny fraction of what is required. The T & V system has proved of limited success, perhaps because it lacks the demonstration effect which made the Green Revolution so successful. The chain of agricultural training can be filled out at the lower level by establishing thousands of village level farm schools throughout the country. The farm schools should be located on land leased from farmers for live training of educated farm youth. The students can learn commercial farming techniques while being employed for pay at the school. The system would require little investment, because qualified instructors could be required to utilize improved methods to demonstrate higher levels of productivity on the leased lands and utilize the income from cultivation to pay for the training activity.

Eastern Europe

The switch from a centrally planned to a market oriented economic system cannot be successful until the population has acquired the skills needed to function effectively in the new economic environment. Under the communist system, emphasis was placed on education and training in technical subjects with little attention to marketing, organizational, commercial and interpersonal skills, which are basic requirements for functioning in a market economy. Skills in negotiation, legal analysis, finance, advertising, selling, commercial design, pleasing customers, motivating employees, just in time inventory, new product development are essential for competition in the global market.

In Russia where private entrepreneurship was extinguished seventy years ago, managerial, financial and marketing knowledge and skills are extremely limited. The very concept of finding a need and filling it commercially is foreign to the mentality of most people. The example of a Russian sweater manufacturer who wanted to export his product for five times the domestic price, because he knew that sweaters sold in American stores for that much indicates the magnitude of the change in mentality required to adjust to the new system.

For most of these people, the last two years have brought more political and social freedom than they ever bargained for and less economic opportunity than they possessed under the old system. Their eagerness for a better future has been frustrated by a lack of understanding, skills and concrete opportunities to improve their standard of living. Those who can, including some of the finest talents in all fields, are going overseas in search of opportunity. Those who cannot or will not leave are learning to cope and some to succeed grandly. Scientists are converting research labs into factories. Farm workers are becoming agri-businessmen. Those who speak foreign languages are selling their translation skills for premium prices. Stopping the drain of talents and achievement of international competitiveness depends on rapidly raising the commercial skills of the work force.

A detailed inventory should be compiled of the types and levels of skills needed for transition to the market, covering areas such as entrepreneurship, management, national and international marketing, strategic business planning, finance, quality control, product development, production technology, design, and human resource development. Intensive training programs should then be introduced to impart these skills on a massive scale to the people.

Industrialized Nations

The rapid introduction of new technology and the increasing demands of global competitiveness place pressure on people in the most advanced industrial nations to continuously improve their skills. In some countries, high levels of unemployment co-exist with shortages of key skills due to the mismatch between the skills of the workforce and the evolving needs of industry. Although much attention is given to this issue in the Western media, there is still enormous scope for upgrading the skills of the work force in developed countries. A recent study found that additional money spent by corporations on training of their workforce can generate as much as a 30-fold return in terms of higher worker productivity, yet training remains a vastly under-utilized resource even by large corporations in the West. A comparison of the most talented and productive individuals within any organization and of the most productive organizations with their less productive counterparts will demonstrate that by any objective standards, the scope for raising skills is still enormous.

The industrialized nations have lost confidence in their ability to continue to improve the living standards of their people. Whatever the changes in technology and life style that come about, they will most certainly demand ever higher levels of skills from the active members of the workforce. The human species has proved countless times in the past that our ability to learn and improve and raise our levels of competence is not bound by the limitations of performance in the past. A commitment to constantly improve the skills of our people is an essential investment for the continuous development of human resourcefulness. Governments and private enterprise in developed nations should intensify technical and vocational training programs to better equip their workforce for competition in the next century.

The vast majority of new enterprises established in the industrialized countries are small privately owned businesses. These companies have an extremely high failure rate, primarily because their owners lack the managerial and commercial skills needed for lasting success. Raising the success rate of this dynamic sector can be a strong impetus to economic growth, and employment generation. Management skills such as planning, budgeting, communicating, organizing work, decision-making and time management are important for success in virtually every field of life. Management is as essential to running a class room, hospital or family as it is to a company. Management training should no longer be regarded as a specialized field primarily for business executives. Every high school and college student should receive basic training in key management skills.


Education is the greatest known civilizing force and single most powerful lever for human development. Training imparts skills, but education increases the capacity of the individual at a more basic level. It makes the ordinary mind more active and alert. It converts physical energy into mental energy. It trains the mind to consider many possibilities, to see things from a new and wider perspective, to question and challenge the status quo, to think and imagine, to innovate and invent, to make decisions for oneself and to act on one’s own initiative.

Education is the process by which society passes on the accumulated knowledge and experience of countless centuries to new generations in a systematic, concentrated and abridged form, so that today’s youth can start their lives at the high point of knowledge and wisdom attained by preceding generations. The individual and the society acquire knowledge in a gradual, piecemeal manner as a result of countless observations, life experiences, failed efforts and achievements. This process of learning is largely subconscious or half conscious. We "learn" from experience and come to "know" long before we are able to mentally formulate and conceptualize our knowledge as theory and verbally communicate it to others. The conversion of subconscious life experience into conscious, theoretical knowledge usually takes centuries. This accumulated knowledge of the essence of accomplishment is a great power that can be utilized to accelerate human development and abridge the time needed for society to arrive at progressively higher levels of material, social and psychological fulfillment. Education is the legacy of our forebears to our youth and the single most precious gift we can offer to every citizen. Not until we have exhausted all conceivable steps to make this invaluable resource available to everyone can we dare to say that we have done all we can and should do.

Four Goals for Developing Countries

The very highest social priority should be given to four educational goals in developing countries. First, there must be a massive effort to achieve UNESCO’s goal of eradicating illiteracy worldwide by the year 2000. Adult literacy rates in the least developed nations still average less than 50% and are less than half that level in a number of countries. Time alone will not eliminate this problem, because illiteracy like poverty tends to perpetuate itself. Unless today’s illiterates are given assistance, a great many of their children will suffer from the same social handicap. The problem can only be wiped out by an all out commitment of every national government to eliminate the huge backlog of illiteracy while at the same time insuring that every newly born child is taught to read and write. National youth service corps and military personnel can be utilized to help provide the necessary manpower.

Second, literacy must be complemented by technicracy, education that imparts basic technical information to the population through a variety of pedagogic methods suited to the educational level of the recipients. This will require a vast multiplication of basic technical institutions at the local level along the lines of the farm schools and craft and vocational training institutes discussed above. While literacy is highly desirable, it is not necessarily an essential prerequisite for learning technical skills if appropriate methods are adopted.

Third, every possible step must be taken to provide education for female children, who represent the future mothers of the next century and the most important key to improving the health and living standards of those living in poverty. In the poorest developing countries, literacy rates among females are 40% below rates for males and the average number of years of schooling for females is 60% lower. While there have been substantial gains in primary and secondary school enrollment for girls, it still lags far behind the rates for male enrollment in many countries. Uneducated females represent a huge reservoir of untapped human potential that must be given every opportunity and full assistance to develop their innate capacities.

Development Education

Fourth, radical changes are needed in the content of school curricula at all levels to make education relevant to the real needs of the students and the development of the country. The society whose system of educated is integrated with the social aspirations of the country will develop most rapidly. The system of education prevalent in most developing countries is oriented toward the outer form, acquiring a degree or qualifying certificate, rather than the inner content of knowledge. Education in physical facts, scientific theories, technological applications and professional disciplines gives the student the qualifications needed for salaried employment. The information taught is very often unrelated or only distantly related to the actual needs of people to be successful in an occupation or in social life. The problem of educated unemployment in many developing countries is a direct result of a system that fosters obedience and rote learning rather than individual initiative and creative thinking.

An educational system is needed that prepares the student to understand the process of development taking place in the society. Educating students to understand the dimensions and process of social change which the society is undergoing helps the individual become aware of and respond to social opportunities. An understanding of this process generates self-confidence and encourages the individual to seek out self-employment opportunities rather than competing for scarce salaried jobs. The introduction of Development Education in the school curricula can make the content of education directly relevant to the needs of the country.

Development education can examine the entire field and history of human social evolution based on the principles of development presented in part one. Every subject, social institution and human accomplishment can be viewed from a developmental perspective to understand how it evolved, what factors or forces shaped and propelled its growth, how it influenced and was influenced by other developments. Students in developing countries can draw particular benefit from examining the successes and failures of developing countries over the past four decades as well as the experience of more developed nations. Through this study, the student can come to understand the central importance of ideas, attitudes, social values, institutions, systems and skills in human progress. On the practical side, this education can examine the recent and current trends in society--scientific, technological, commercial, industrial--that represent development opportunities for the individual and the collective. The goal of development education should be to equip the student with an understanding of his society, its achievements and potentials, and the opportunities open to individuals to participate in its future growth. The index of its success will be the extent to which students of this curriculum seek self-employment rather than salaried jobs.

Education in Developed Nations

Two centuries ago it was simply inconceivable that every member of the population in any country could or would receive even a minimum level of education. In earlier periods, education was considered a luxury or privilege of the elite, rather than a basic right of every individual. This revolutionary change has been brought about by the universal recognition that education is absolutely essential for development of the individual and the human collective. Few industrialized nations fully meet their own present standards of minimum education for every citizen. Too many people still fall through the gaps and fail to acquire the basics. In 1991 the high school dropout rate was 10.5 percent in the U.S. and nearly 30% among some minority groups. The present standards set for the education of every citizen are not optimal levels, they are only minimums. These minimums themselves are arbitrary. Evidence suggests that raising the minimum levels of achievement further may be the most important initiative that governments can take to prepare their citizens for a more productive, prosperous and peaceful future.

Education for the 21st Century

The knowledge communicated to posterity through formal education is the theoretical knowledge which society has made fully conscious. Since this body of conscious knowledge is the product of past experience, it can be effectively applied to deal with situations which the society has already mastered through its past growth. Today society is confronted by a host of problems--physical, environmental, political, social, economic and psychological--for which it as yet possesses inadequate knowledge or solutions. We are still seeking, still learning from experience how to cope with them. A survey of current concerns and initiatives regarding ethnic and nationalistic strife, environmental protection, unemployment, hunger, poverty, crime, drugs and over-population indicate areas where our knowledge remains incomplete and at best partially effective. Knowledge in these areas may be possessed fully by a few people or groups. But since it has not been consciously formulated and accepted by society as a whole, it cannot be passed on to the next generation through formal education.

The challenge to humanity is to evolve a system of education that can effectively prepare our youth for life in the 21st century, when the conscious, formalized knowledge of present day society is still inadequate to deal satisfactorily with all the problems of the late 20th century. Is it possible to develop a form of education that will not only prepare people to cope with the problems that have already been mastered by a part or all of humanity, but also enable them to deal effectively with problems that are as yet unresolved or unperceived? We believe that it is practically possible to fashion such a system, because the necessary knowledge does already exist subconsciously in society and consciously in a few individuals or social groups. We are calling for a systematic effort to identify and "make conscious" the knowledge already possessed by society but not yet transmitted through the educational system. There is potential for accelerating and augmenting the dissemination of knowledge in society and the resulting human development at least ten-fold. By such as effort, social accomplishments that would otherwise take place over the span of a century or more can be achieved in one or a few decades.

The primary goals of education are to endow the individual and society with the capacity for physical accomplishment in life, psychological fulfillment and mental understanding. Humanity seeks--

  • Physically, to acquire mastery over the external environment to achieve greater material comforts and conveniences.
  • Psychologically, to acquire inner harmony, joy and personal fulfillment.
  • Mentally, to acquire objective understanding and effective knowledge.

But the general experience of humanity until now is that the achievement at all these three levels is a best partial, temporary and subject to factors beyond our control.

Physically, humanity still believes that there are external constraints that place severe limits on our achievements. The world possesses the physical knowledge needed to produce sufficient food and other material necessities for everyone. The economic accomplishments of Western nations and more recently of East Asian countries demonstrate that the knowledge does exist for achieving widespread prosperity. Their success is based on attitudes of self-reliance, self-respect, and independence, a strong work ethic, high levels of individual skills and organizational efficiency. But the knowledge they possess is not yet a conscious possession of humanity as a whole that is passed on to every individual, even in the most advanced nations. The knowledge required for material prosperity, if consciously and systematically imparted through education, can eradicate famine and poverty from the earth.

Commercially, bankruptcy is a common, ever present threat in business. Most corporations believe that their survival and growth is fully dependent on external economic conditions. Yet there are many well-documented instances of companies that have survived and continued to grow for decades, even in the midst of severe depressions and radical changes in market and technology. These corporations possess a knowledge of the essential elements for sustained success that combines the ability to forge perfect material systems with the enthusiastic vitality of a living organization. Certainly the world does possess considerable knowledge about the conditions and processes that generate organizational dynamism, vitality and growth. This knowledge, if consciously imparted through education, can dramatically improve the performance of commercial organizations in every country.

Socially, most people believe that their personal success depends on family, circumstances, government, society, laws and other external factors and that in life, success and failure inevitably alternate and accompany one another. While a great many individuals struggle to achieve minimum levels of success, there are also many average people who continuously rise to greater heights of social and material achievement. Some even claim that with the knowledge and attitudes they possess, it is possible for others to follow their example. The present educational system imparts valuable knowledge of nature and social history, but it teaches very little of the qualities and values needed for success and high personal achievement in life. Every culture possesses the knowledge of the essential qualities necessary for lasting success, but traditionally this knowledge has been passed on through the family. This knowledge has not yet been consciously formulated and systematically imparted to the entire population through formal education.

Psychologically, most people believe that human existence must be a continuous oscillation between happiness and suffering that depends heavily on external conditions and events. The youth of the 1960s revolted against the external social establishment which they perceived as a major barrier to their freedom and happiness. But the greatest constraints to human happiness are the psychological barriers--the inner establishment--of inherited and acquired attitudes, characteristics and values. By consciously acquiring the right attitudes, values and motives, it is possible for the individual to attain a self-existent happiness and inner harmony which nothing can disturb. This knowledge too can be consciously formulated and communicated through the educational system of the 21st Century.

Mentally, our knowledge is both partial and biased. It is based on unidimensional perspectives that seek to reduce complex realities to simple theorems. Partial knowledge often produces immediate successes and long term problems and sometimes results in dangerous consequences, such as the environmental imbalances generated by application of powerful industrial technologies. In addition, our "understanding" of economic, social, political and environmental problems is based on beliefs, attitudes and selfish motives that are very far from rational. When Galileo discovered the telescope, the clergy could declare it the devil’s instrument by subjecting physical fact to the whims of current belief. Even today among the elite of the world’s scientific community, what is admitted as ‘knowledge" is based more on social than rational considerations. As one world famous scientist put it, "What is accepted within the scientific community depends on who says it, not on the rationality of what is said." Material prosperity, social success and psychological fulfillment cannot be based on a knowledge that is partial, unidimensional, ego-centric or socially conditioned. True rationality and integral knowledge that bases itself purely on fact unencumbered by selfish interests and social conformity can evolve technologies without negative side effects and resolve existing conflicts without generating new ones.

Human fulfillment in the 21st Century depends on our ability to impart a knowledge to our youth that will free them from the constraints and limitations of the material, economic, social and psychological environment and enable them to acquire the inner resourcefulness to achieve material prosperity, social success, psychological harmony and mental objectivity. Formal education is the only social institution capable of systematically imparting this knowledge to entire generations of people around the world. Education must and can impart not only the material facts, but also the mental perspectives, psychological attitudes, personal values, individual skills and organizational abilities needed for full and rounded human accomplishment.

‘Products’ that Stimulate Development

In different ages, the social aspiration expresses as the seeking after specific social and material attainments. The social progress of a decade or a century comes to be symbolized by these social, psychological, and material attainments--aristocratic title, education, wealth, etc. Those aspiring for upward mobility come to identify this achievement with specific outward signs and symbols, such as fashions and social habits. Often a material object or "product" comes to symbolize the whole social movement, the aspiration of the society. In earlier centuries, the acquisition of land was the most important "product". Land bestowed both material wealth and social prestige on the owner. Land gave rise to a landed aristocracy and social rankings determined by one's position in relation to the king. Heredity social status solidified the attainments of the aristocracy but led to feudal social stagnation. Commerce opened up new avenues for the social aspiration of those excluded from the aristocracy through world trade, foreign conquest and opportunities for individuals to escape the confining limitations of a rigid social hierarchy. Gold and later money became more mobile and transferable "products" of the last two centuries, symbolizing in themselves all the other social attainments and bestowing social status on the possessor.

The 20th Century is the age of the individual. The process in this century has come to encompass the entire population and be symbolized by educational achievements, job positions (rather than military or aristocratic rank) and commercial products. The greatest commercial product of this century is the automobile. Ever since Henry Ford first launched his car for the common man, the automobile has been the symbol of rising expectations and upward social mobility, not only in the West but around the world. The house, telephone, television and computer have played a similar role to varying degrees.

Social growth is stimulated by seeking for products that can be attained by the individual through socially approved forms of personal effort, such as acquisition of higher education and more remunerative employment. Many products serve this role for one or more layers of society to some extent. A few, like the car, become comprehensive symbols. The product, in order to be comprehensive rather than partial, should appeal to all levels of society, have material utility, have social prestige, and determine the goals of and motivate the individual.

The aspiration to maintain or increase social prestige--for upward social mobility--can be a more powerful stimulus to development than economic opportunity. Prospering Indian villagers strain to purchase fancy clothes, wrist watches, refrigerators and motor scooters, to send their children to English medium nursery schools, to perform elaborate marriages and religious ceremonies as symbols of their increasing social status, just as middle income Americans exceed their economic means to buy prestige cars, time-share resorts and exotic vacations. Development strategies will be most effective when they are linked to the acquisition of products that release social initiative.

In the most economically advanced nations, new "products" can be identified that will release and channel social energies to achieve higher goals in the next century. Education can play this role--not the form of education symbolized by the degree, but the content of knowledge that raises the capacity of the human being and increases his ability to achieve personal satisfaction.

Culture and Development

The development of civilization over several millennia has produced extraordinary achievements in science, technology, social institutions and material prosperity. Education and culture represent the summit of this development. The relationship between culture and development is a subject of intense controversy. Experience in some places shows that cultural traditions can be a substantial barrier to rapid progress, whereas in others cultural factors seem to propel the development process. Much of the controversy is resolved when we distinguish between the external forms and behaviors associated with particular cultures and the inner content of values that informs and supports these external expressions.

Societies differ widely in their external forms and norms of behavior, i.e. the language, dress, fashions, arts, customs and habits surrounding family life, economic, social and religious activities. Different forms of identity, behavior and expression come to be associated with different classes, castes and ethnic groups. These external forms change over time and lose their homogeneity and uniqueness as societies come into greater contact with each other. History describes an endless intermixing, imitation, borrowing and adaptation of external forms which is gradually leading to the emergence of common global culture that is highly tolerant of variations in form and behavior.

Customs constitute the external forms of culture, values are the inner content. The forms of culture vary widely but the values are universal, though different societies accord different degrees of importance to particular values. These values represent the essential knowledge of life which society has accumulated over time and passes on to new generations as guiding principles for successful living. As society imparts skills and information to its youth to help them understand, adapt to and control their physical environment, it also imparts values that support the survival, growth and development of the individual and the society. These values are the heart of every culture, giving it life and sustenance. All great accomplishment, all development, is based on the acquisition and expression of one or more higher values--physical and organizational values, social and ethical values, psychological and spiritual values. Cleanliness is a physical value that is at the root of achievements in hygiene and medicine. Punctuality is an essential value for all productive activity, whether it is the timely planting and harvesting of crops at precisely the right season, the delivery of export orders faster than the competition, or quick administrative decision making that clears away bureaucratic hurdles to rapid action. Systematic functioning and coordination are organizational values that promote efficiency and expansion of modern institutions. Communication, cooperation and tolerance are social values that enable people to work together harmoniously. Honesty, a work ethic and a sense of responsibility are psychological values which enable people to rely on each other for mutual benefit. Peace and harmony are spiritual values that constitute the stable foundation of social existence.

Together these values constitute the basis for the tremendous developmental achievements of the past two hundred years. The Japanese commitment to teamwork and consensus has been a key factor behind its phenomenal economic progress. A unfailing commitment to discharge all family debts lies behind the great commercial success of the most prosperous community in South India. The refusal of the American Quaker shopkeepers to charge exorbitant prices led them to introduce the concept of 'fair price' two hundred years ago and made them highly successful in business. The German dedication of quality has made them preeminent engineers. The commitment of Dutch traders to partnership with other countries rather than exploitation made their sailing vessels welcome in all ports and enabled them to build lasting commercial relationships around the world.

The crucial role of cultural factors in development can be illustrated negatively by instances in which the necessary values are absent. The reluctance of the poor in many developing countries to assume responsibility for repayment of their debts makes it extremely difficult to persuade financial institutions to extend credit where it is most needed. The lack of appreciation for the value of time makes many Third World producers unreliable suppliers for critical raw materials and components. The effort to rapidly transform the countries of Eastern Europe into market economies has severely underestimated both the importance of values in any economic system and the conscious effort needed to promote appropriate values. The centrally controlled command system functioned on the basis of authority, obedience, conformity, and security. The market system depends on values of individual initiative, innovation and risk taking. Behind every development failure lies a failure to exhibit the values essential for success.

Development is retarded by the slow pace at which society acquires new values. Normally this change occurs with a change of generation. Those accustomed to the old ways are gradually replaced by a younger generation more open to something new. But values can be consciously and systematically introduced in order to abridge the time needed for transition.

The controversy over the relationship between culture and development is complicated by the fact that development both creates and destroys cultural forms and values. Every developmental achievement results in an abandonment of old behaviors and attitudes and acceptance of new ones. Those attached to the old way feel a decline in culture, just as the 18th and 19th century aristocracy of Europe perceived the turn to democracy as a breakdown of social and moral order. Development destroys survival-based, traditional values and creates achievement-oriented, progressive values. Over the last two centuries in countries around the world development has strengthened expansive values that encourage greater freedom, tolerance, individual initiative, self-confidence and self-respect, dynamism, risk-taking, efficiency, punctuality, organization, communication and cooperation, open-mindedness and respect of new ideas, innovation and creativity. At the same time development has weakened values that support respect for tradition and hierarchy, seniority and authority, self-effacement and humility, patience and perseverance, generosity and self-sacrifice, and unquestioning acceptance of the status quo. The 19th century tolerated values based on the exploitation of people over people through slavery, colonialism and war and the domination of man over nature. The guiding values for the century now commencing are freedom and respect for the individual, social equity, tolerance for diversity and harmony with the environment.

Development is widely regarded as the cause of declining moral values in society, as the source of increasing corruption, crime and violence. These negative consequences of development are partially the result of declining values, but they are primarily due to the fact that values such as freedom are extended to vast sections of the population which were confined in the past by rigid social barriers and minimum expectations, so they never had need or occasion to embrace the values they now eschew. Development has swept away many of the barriers that prevented these people from acting in the past, while at the same time it has raised their expectations and very often their frustration with the status quo. The self-restraint that formerly was the result of lack of opportunity, of fear and repression is now replaced by a self-assertion that has not yet acquired the positive productive values needed for achievement. While it is true that corruption it more prevalent today than ever before, it is also true that the entire global economy functions on the basis of a faith, honesty, openness and tolerance that would have been inconceivable in the past. We mourn the loss of the cloistered values of the past which were very often accompanied by narrow rigidity and provincialism, while failing to recognize the enormous growth in positive human values that has made possible the incredible progress of the past few decades.

Culture is not only a product of human development, it is also a powerful lever that can be utilized to accelerate it. In past centuries the local culture of a community was acquired and handed down to future generations through the family. For a number of reasons this is no longer sufficient. The family is losing its preeminent position in social life due to increasing mobility of people, the breakdown of the extended family and the growing role of other institutions such as the corporation in value formation. Education is taking over many of the functions earlier performed by the family. Until now education has focused primarily on the transfer of information, ideas and mental skills. In addition, every educational system impart values, either explicitly or implicitly. For example, the educational systems in many former colonies still impart authoritarian and security-oriented values which encourage youth to seek salaried jobs, especially in government, rather than self-employment in industry; whereas education in the industrialized West imparts values of open-mindedness, individual initiative and innovation. By a conscious effort, education can be made a very effective vehicle for imparting higher development-oriented cultural values to youth.

Integration and tolerance for diversity are crucial values for the further development of the human community. Yet the increasing speed of globalization has accentuated a contrary tendency toward increasing fragmentation. Smaller social groups are reaffirming their own cultural uniqueness on ethnic, linguistic and religious grounds and demanding separation from larger heterogeneous groups of which they form a part, such as the nation state. The movement toward fragmentation within previously integrated communities fails to take into account the advantages of consolidation and association that the society has discovered in the past. When fragmentation is insisted upon, it usually leads to violence and almost inevitably leads to an economic decline that has not been fully anticipated at the time of disunion. Recent events in Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union are dramatic illustrations of the enormous costs and social disruption resulting from this tendency. The same force retards efforts at increasing integration within and between nations, such as the present efforts toward the economic and political unification of Europe and economic cooperation in North America. This type of resistance will continue to grow in strength and visibility until such a time as society comes to fully accept and appreciate the value of integration. The pull of fragmentation cannot be countered solely at the political level. Education--both formal and public--is the best means for rapidly communicating and imparting the benefits of this value to the largest numbers of people.

In order to fully harness cultural potentials for development, we need to better understand the natural process of value formation in society, to discover the circumstances and conditions under which new values are accepted, and the factors that retard or facilitate this process. In other words, we need to evolve a theory of value formation which will ultimately enable us to consciously identify and instill values that are most conducive and supportive of a peaceful, prosperous living for all humanity.


The movement of humanity over the past few hundred years from exclusive governance of society and enjoyment of privileges by a small elite to universal human rights, democratic government and universal education is leading inevitably to the time when economic well-being and social security will also be the inherent right and possession of all humanity. This radical revolution now in process is as compelling and irresistible as earlier revolutions which brought the shift from monarchy to democracy and from a dominant aristocratic to a dominant middle class society. This most modern and first truly global--because it embraces all levels and sections of humanity--revolution is driven forward by the rising expectations of a better future that are inexorably growing and contagiously spreading in the minds of hundreds of millions of people. The energy they release and their potential for constructive accomplishment is enormous, provided they are endowed with the essential knowledge, skills and supportive social institutions needed for achievement. This knowledge, skill, organizational technology and experience are already possessed and utilized by a portion of humanity. Making them available and accessible to all is the greatest challenge and opportunity of our time.