Aid, Institutions and Development

Aid, Institutions and Development

New Approaches to Growth, Governance and Poverty

Ashok Chakravarti

In spite of massive flows over the past 50 years, aid has failed to have any significant impact on development. Marginalization from the world economy and increases in absolute poverty are causing countries to degenerate into failed, oppressive and, in some cases, dangerous states. To address this malaise, Ashok Chakravarti argues that there should be more recognition of the role economic and political governance can play in achieving positive and sustainable development outcomes.

Preface

Ashok Chakravarti

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, politics and public policy, regulation and governance

Extract

My interest in institutions and governance dates back to my student days. The year was 1975. Mrs Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, had been indicted by the High Court for corrupt electoral practices. Rather than accept the court’s decision, to save her position she declared a State of Emergency in the country and suspended the Constitution. There were many who opposed this abrogation of democracy in India. They protested, and tens of thousands were thrown into jail. Others, like me, formed networks with other democratically minded forces and continued to fight the regime. I became the editor of an underground weekly called Democracy. It had a circulation of a thousand. In 1977 new elections were called. By now, the people had observed the regime’s dictatorial ways, they were mobilized, and the authoritarian forces suffered an overwhelming defeat. In an historical sense, this episode strengthened the foundations of India’s democratic system. It taught the ruling elites and the political class a lesson. Since then, no political leader has made any fundamental challenge to the rule of law or the Constitution of the country. It was my first experience with activism, democracy and governance. After a brief stint as an adviser to the government of India, I drifted into the United Nations’ system in 1980, first working for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and then for various UN agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Thus commenced my second experience with institutions and governance. As...