Thesis on Development- A Case Study of an NGO in Bangladesh

The conspectus of the entire research would be that the micro credit program of BRAC did not have much positive impact on the quantity and quality of meals of the poor, spending of money on Eid, puja and other festive occasions, ownership of utensils and livestock and ownership of land by the V.O members. On the other hand, according to the V.O members who I interviewed averred that micro credit program had contributed significantly in the condition of dwellings, increasing savings but without easy access to it, creating employment opportunities for women (although most of the V.O members were inclined to give the money to their husbands), reducing domestic violence and in ensuring locomotive autonomy of women, which I called ‘deluge effect’. Despite such marked improvement in these spheres, there was a high drop out rate from the micro credit program of BRAC, because of the mercenary actions of the BRAC staffs. The micro credit program of BRAC also changed considerably the interaction process of the poor and the elite, the voting behaviour of the poor V.O members, decision making pattern of women in economic sphere and regarding marriage and education of their children. But the organizational aspect of the V.O members remained completely unaffected by the micro credit program, for BRAC imparted the V.O members the distorted version of the conscientization approach of Paulo Freire (1968), to make them aware of social injustices without upsetting the existing status quo. They did so to inculcate false consciousness in their minds, so that horizontal solidarity (after Foucault’s, 1977 ‘horizontal conjunction’) of these social actors doesn’t reach the boiling point of power that may endanger the existence of the privileged section of the society. Moreover, the worldviews of the poor V.O members resembled more the ‘emancipation model’ than the ‘survival model’ which might be attributed to the micro credit program of BRAC, but that did not imply that they were not fatalistic anymore.

Here a theoretical discussion would crystallize the point that Bijoypur village is not estranged from the rest of the world. Rather what the west devises theoretically has direct bearing on the Third World people like Bangladeshis. Thus the academic strife among development practitioners whether to espouse mainstream development or alternative development paradigm or to breed them to produce MAD (Mainstream Alternative Development), ultimately strangulates the target population. Because of the personal aggrandizement of both basic and applied researchers the atrocious dissection of poverty stricken people continues surreptitiously. The fiasco of social engineering even after the inclusion of anthropologists to usher in the long-awaited aura of development pave the way for careful deliberation of endogenous facet of development. Exogenous development intervention on the other hand always strive to ensure maximum participation of the poor people according to top-down approach, but in actuality the case have to be such that endogeneity become quintessential in development discourse where NGOs, donors and governments participate in people’s development, and help materialize stunted empowerment of those who are in the quagmire of wholesale poverty. Moreover there is no foolproof agenda to banish poverty from Bangladesh, for the penury which devours majority of her offspring is the upshot of hundreds of years of colonial exploitation and oppression, which in the new attire of imperial octopus-the progeny of colonial power- is simply perpetuating the state of underdevelopment through ‘development cooperation’. It is equally true that we cannot ‘do away with development’ as proclaimed by Sachs, because of its capricious use by some nefarious brokers of development. Anisur Rahman on the basis of sound reasoning warned us not to discard the concept of development because of its abuse; he even expressed his antipathy towards the post-development paradigm by putting simply “ I was struck by the intensity with which the very notion of ‘development’ was attacked. I submitted that I found the word ‘development’ to be very powerful means of expressing the conception of societal progress as the flowering of people’s creativity. Must we abandon valuable words because they are abused? What to do then with words like democracy, cooperation, socialism, all of which are abused?”(Anisur Rahman quoted in Pieterse: 2002:106). Anisur Rahman rightfully pointed out the abuse of the concept of development and accentuated the innocuous image of the term, what he failed to see was that exponents of post-development paradigm waged war against that development which had become synonymous with strategic exploitation of the poor, and domination of the imperial west over their previous colonies, not against the term itself.

Moreover, development-NGOs have been denounced as new missionaries engaged in recolonization, as unguided missiles or as the new East India Company. They have been accused of neutralizing popular resistance and facilitating popular acceptance of structural adjustment (Pieterse: 2002: 85). Assenting to the tenor of the thinking of David Lewis it can be said that such ‘dependent partnership’ of development NGOs with donors has converted these stalwart figures in the implementation of development projects into the reluctant pawn of the overbearing west, therefore ‘active partnership’ will call for reduction of dependence on ‘development cooperation’ and only then NGOs can contribute effectively in ‘democratizing development’. “According to Escobar, the problem with ‘development’ is that it is external, based on the model of the industrialized world and what is needed instead are more endogenous discourses” (Pieterse: 2002: 101). Therefore throughout my research I zeroed in mainly on the point that micro credit is not an open sesame to the alleviation of poverty, rather conscientization and dialogue in the true Freirian sense (not as the distortion of original essence of the term to endorse status quo) and endogeneity of alternative development paradigm can provide the platform for development to take place at the grassroots level. At the risk of overgeneralization, it can be predicated that, what hundreds of Bangladeshi Villages like Bijoypur enjoys is the transient benefits of dependent development. Therefore the continuation of this kind of development sponsored through the aid of foreign donors would be disquieting for villages like Bijoypur in the upcoming years. Finally yet importantly it can be concluded in accord with Andre Gunder Frank “If the now underdeveloped were really to follow the stages of growth of the now developed ones, they would have to find still other peoples to exploit into underdevelopment, as the now developed countries did before them” (1969: 46 quoted in Pieterse: 2002: 24)