It's been just a year since our inaugural issue, and so much has changed! In the past year, our questions about development have been influenced by the volatility of the Indian currency, the nagging dialectic of growth vs. inclusion, and the outcome of the world's largest democratic election. Beneath these events and debates are fundamental questions. We believe that the most important result of the elections is not the winner, but rather the election-centered dialogue around the question "What is development?" The development of India is being discussed at chai shops, across desks and in living rooms across the nation; not only by policy makers, but also by the subjiwalas (vegetable vendor) across the street from our flats, the dukhandars (shopkeeper) that sell us dried goods, and by our coworkers.
While closely watching current events in India from the US, we have also been fortunate enough to take on a new editor, Angela Kohama, a 2013-2014 AIF Clinton Fellow based in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. As our on-the-ground editor and manager, Angela has lent us the eyes and ears of perspectives around her. We're so lucky to have her and to hear her accounts below:
I am not fluent in Gujarati, but between my limited Gujarati, "Hinglish," and a few English speaking friends who graciously translate conversations for me, I have come to the conclusion that Indian citizens are primarily focusing on the economic development of India, forgetting about the importance of social indicators such as public health and education.
India is at a unique crossroads at the moment. The immense amount of momentum around this new leader who is promising to 'develop' India has captured the hearts of many across the nation; and many citizens are viewing the next five years optimistically, hoping for a booming economy. But will this economic growth help small business owners? Will literacy rates increase across the nation? Will maternal mortality rates decrease? How are Indian citizens defining 'development?'
In this issue of Badlaav, individuals working on the ground in India will examine a unique range of development issues, many of which are being discussed at this very moment. Some incorporate politics into their analysis of present development failures, some choose to focus on the NGO space. What will these next five years bring for India's development?
As India is undergoing a massive political transition, the question becomes about what can be done better. Our 2014 theme of "development failures" is examined not necessarily with prevailing tones of pessimism or cynicism, but more often with metrics and analysis that change the conversation. Liv Dowling examines the purported "success" of the lauded Gujarat Model of Development; Mike Johnson assesses the detriments of the NGO's approach of competing for beneficiaries. The conversations started here continue to be impressive and contemplative – and the images vivid and humanizing.
We're so excited to be growing into another year of our own development. As we look at development failures through the lenses of our talented contributors, let's reframe the conversation and, at this turning point in Indian history, think about what this new page will look like.
Thanks for another great year!
Liz, Ragini, & Angela