It’s been an intense, interesting couple of weeks, of witnessing contrasts. From the swanky Dubai offices of a client, a retail major, where people struggled to find time for learning while being caught in the whirl of work, to spending a week with grassroots socio-political leaders from around India who hungered to learn but did not have the opportunities, the question loomed large on what development means. In an apparently ‘developed’ context, people were slaves to systems that did not leave much room for learning and growth, even as invisible policies aspired to promote learning. In the so-called ‘developing’ context, even people battling poverty and oppression were willing to spare a significant duration in the prime of their lives to learn, to serve. They did not need policies to back them up.
And then there was the overturning of Roe v. Wade, masquerading as a pro-life argument, in a so-called developed context. If the argument was truly for life, it would be serving health, education, safety and harmony. Instead, all it seeks to do is to control the bodies of people with wombs, without serving any lives in the process. It is about a corrupted notion of power over others. In the developing world, on the other hand, women have been heads of State for decades now, with right to their bodies, with arms control in place, and focus on health and education.
There is a tsunami of patriarchy that can overwhelm us with everything that is happening in the world. Yet, it is also an opportunity to question what development truly means. What are we giving away our power to, when our idea of development is about spaces that are unsafe, sexist and patriarchal? What power are we not claiming, when spaces with aspiration for learning and growth, with freedom of choice and relative social safety are not considered developed?
It is a huge opportunity to shift paradigms and turn the warped notion of development on its head. The world needs aspiration towards our best selves, not a narrow definition of economic development that is only self-serving. There’s work for each of us to do: what notions of success do we subscribe to? Who does it serve?
If it entails us giving our power away to anything/ anyone — a law, a policy, a person — it is not development. Development brings us home, to embody our power. Anything else is colonisation.
#RukminiIyer #development #colonisation #RoeVsWade