My Conclusion!

Where has the time gone?

Over the last 10 weeks, I have been able to apply my sometimes ‘out the box’ perspectives to what can only be described as controversial matters. The topics in this model have encouraged me to not only think of the struggles within development as a problem created by the rich that needs to be solved by the poor, but as a global initiative that is the responsibility of everyone, rich and poor and will also benefit all if growth in global development can be achieved.

Democracy & The State

The most important thing that I learnt from this lesson is that ‘One size does not fit all’. This lecture has left me with the mind stead that there are different types of development, different types of democracy and so there must be different types of state. What I have been led to believe and in some sense educated, is that the way I live is the correct and only succesful way. The west and its learning providers are very dominant and influential in teaching that Western democracy and liberal ideology is the only correct way of survival. What the historical teachings of Latin America has taught me that there are other options. In addition to this the rise of China, India and Brazil have also, in my mind, go against the grain.

Latin America is very complicated but relevent example of democracy. This lecture has taught me that it is not so easy to establish a good democracy, especially during the last couple of centuries. Latin America is mistakenly seen a one large content where all the states are similar in politics, economics and language. When Latin America was given their independence, the system of democracy that was presented as an example to practice was not best suited for its people. Latin America is full european migrants all seeking the better life and followed the oligarch system of power. Once the interest in western democracy and bureaucratic system started to take over, this continent has problems. Populism was a major problem in Latin America as it is very hard to gain the support of the majority, who are the poor, if their needs are being met second. From oligarchy to populism to corporatism to democracy and then to rest at authoritarianism. This country needs stability. Within all this instability comes civil wars, debt and poverty.

Gradualism Vs Sequalism (Chicken or Egg) 

Gradualism is a process that starts with a democracy and then build around it, economics, institutions etc.

Sequalism advocates that pre-conditions such as economic growth need to exist to be able to sustain a democracy.

It was argued in the seminar that democracy is a process by which countries have to learn to govern correctly which evidently takes time. I personally believe this and support the idea of gradualism in regards to which came first. I think there needs to be a desire for any type of democracy. Once established, through the participation of elections and governance, institutions can be set up to promote and support democracy. Economic growth is partly based on competition with other states. Democracy creates competition that is required to ignite economic growth. Therefore can I jump to the conclusion that democracy is needed first in order to acquire economic growth and for that matter any other growth within a country.

China present itself as an example that I find of interest. This is because they have not followed the typical liberal system of Western liberal democracy to achieve the type of growth they have achieved over the past 30 years. China has practised an authoritarian regime and has manged to stimulate immense unprecedented growth and development with incorporating liberal democracy, political competition or freedom of expression.

In Search of Democracy!

unfortunately, I was not present at this lecture so therefore did not get the pleasure of watching the film with the class and hearing the discussions.

I did manage to watch a few shorter clips off you tube and from what I can gather…. what an honourable human being Gandhi was. Gandhi is the type of person who deserves to be called a leader. A leader that oars power and triumph. What I like about Gandhi is his appearance. As we know in the west appearance is a key factor in winning over the citizens. imagine if David Cameron or  Maggie Thatcher addressed the British public without a suite, there would be a media uproar. But Gandhi wanted to be known as one of the people, an average joe and poor village boy. Maybe it would do our leaders a favor if they followed by example and came down to earth for a change.

Gandhi’s morals, values and desires were nothing but basic freedom, a right for India to rule themself and not be dictated by the british. Did he achieve that? Yes. to an extent. India is an independent country free from British empirical rule and slavery, however they have become controlled by the international community in other respects. India receives aid of £280 million a year from Britain. As we know with the recent lectures on Aid, it is just another means to personal benefits, self-interest and indirect exploitation. I think Gandhi would be disappointed with India if he was still alive today. He would not be disappointed with India as a whole but with the progress they have made since his assassination. India has an unsettling rate of poverty and inequality. Freedom has been given but to the rich whilst the poor suffer and struggle at the hands of Indian democracy. Does this look like the India Gandhi dreamt of when fighting.

  

I believe that defining democracy is the problem. The western world has a perception of democracy that is not accepted, liked or required in other parts of the world. They too have their own systems of democracy. Havering watched the P. Sainath video on Western Democracy, what he points out is that even in the west there are various forms of democracy such as within the voting system. So, they too can not agree on what form of western democracy is best to practice.

Sainath is very passionate about his beliefs that western democracy is not  the only democracy and in saying that not necessary the best. He talks about the unearned (in most cases) legitimacy and respect western creators and so-called democratic establishes such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are given. But he also reminds us that leaders such as these have values and principle to that of slave masters. Both Washington and Jefferson were in support of slave ownership, how then can their moral judgements and ideals on democracy ( which is supposed to about freedom) be taken as holy words. Making the connection, it is evident that democracy is indirectly associated with the notion of ownership. Sainath describes it as ‘enslaving of African and Asian states by the West’. Keeping with the Sainath interview, he makes a very interesting point when he depicts the historical nature of western democracy. He talks about the constant reference, from supporters of western democracy, of the connection to Greek and Roman democratic practices as the root to current democracies. He reminds us again that both Greek and Roman democracies were based on and grew due to slavery.

It is not until an outside person ( meaning non-western born), brings theses factors of historical relevance to light that I stop and actually take in what has been said and question what I have been taught. All my academic life I have been taught that democracy has this great affiliation to Greek and Roman empires and that nobel leaders such as Jefferson and Washington were great. furthermore, I have chosen to study the thinking of great philosophers like Hobbs and Locke who advocate this great ideal of democracy and how we should live in society. But It was never emphasised, and to be honest I never questioned, that these people were owners and supporters of slaves and the colonial systems. So how can these be our foundation on how we should live and be governed. Watching Sainath illiterate this made me feel a little robbed of an education. Actually to be more precise a rounded education. Maybe if I was educated in a different country I may have got a fuller picture.

In contrast to Sainaths interview was the opening of Larry Dimond speech on ‘Can the whole world become democratic’. What I picked upon during his speech was that he advocates the word ‘democracy’, an uncountable number of times. He explains how countries adopt democratic governance and highlighted the states that have not, such as African  and the Soviet Union. His rhetoric is in contrast to Sainath who ensure that when speaking about democracy he distinguishes that there is a type of democracy western democracy that is not practiced by all. He states ” People may want democracy, just not your type of democracy”. With this I agree. And I think this is what Gandhi was trying to achieve. His style of democracy. We in the West need to accept that the are different types of democracies and that not every one wants to follow our way. I go back to what I said earlier, I belive the definition of democracy is the problem. It can not be either our way or the high way!

Zimbabwe! The richest poverty stricken country

What a mess! I too did not attend this lecture but have done the relevant research. How can some where so rich in minerals be experiencing poverty to this degree.

Land Reform: ‘Mugabe’s style’… is this pro-poor politics?

The question to ask here is who are Mugabe’s reforms benefiting? The rich or the poor? I understand that many Zimbabwean want to claim back their rightfully inherited land that was manipulated and taken from their forefathers from Europe and in particular Britain. I do think there is some good in the policies that will allow these people to benefit from the riches that this country has to offer. But is it pro-poor?

Firstly, when Mugabe was taking land away from experienced white settlers who were generating produce, he mistakenly and probably hastly gave it to black natives who had no idea what to do with it. It is not the fault of the natives that they did not poses  experience and knowledge to sustain these farms as if they were not taken in the first place by white settler they would have already lived there. Anyway by doing this, it drove the country into disarray and economic turmoil. At present any pro-poor policies in relation to land, due to the current president, will have elitist agendas attached to it. Even though the land is going back to the black poor, the benefits of having land is not being seen by the poor. For example; the potatoes, vegetables and fruit grown on the land are unaffordable to the poor. The meat and wheat harboured by the farmers, when getting to the supermarket are unaffordable to the poor. Land has become currency in this, leading to vicious land invasions.

 

secondary, the focus on land reform has left other matters in the country to fester and turn into a state crisis. Hyperinflation has become a rising trend in the Zimbabwean economy. It is now at the rate 100,00%. This is an issue that the government needs to address but focusses are on other things.

Rich vs Poor: Zimbabwe inequalities is a direct consequence of exploitation and greed. For the majority of Zimbabwe this is their reality of life (below). However the rich want to keep the Mugabe leadership in place because they benefit from his regime. If he was to go then, the elites in Zimbabwe would suffer.

  

Corruption & Exploitation: From having watched a few documentaries, (most interesting for me being this one http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/8510576.stm), I have learnt that diamonds and gold has become a curse on Zimbabwe. It was mentioned in the documentary that one example were corruption is taking place in the sense of secret air fields unknown and unused by others. Speculations is that it is used for international secret trade to take place.

Is this pro-poor politics? No! The poor do benefit but not nearly as much as the rich/elites. The elites gain far too much for this to be called pro-poor. In addition to this the poor people are not able to influence the policies that are established by this regime. Until then, the policies are not for the poor it is to keep them happy(-ish).

Rising Powers

The final lecture ended with a really good discussion on the up and coming powers of the 21st Century.

It was not ignored that China has become the most talked about and influential state of this century, thus far. It can and will also be perceived as a threat to many (a.k.a United States of America). Over the past 30 years China, unpredictably, has managed to astonish the world and its leaders in achieving an 8% increase p.a in its economy. Economic development on a similar scale has also been seen in the Brazilian and Indian economies. However China’s rate is unprecedented and unexpected due to it historical existence and their current political affiliations.

I believe that the BRIC countries ( Brazil, Russia, India and China) must be admired for their courage and influential stand towards the traditional international hegemonic powers. It must not be easy but their patients is paying off.

The idea of competing practices to the concept of modernity, which has been predominately associated with the western development theory of modernisation, has helped BRIC to emerge as influential characters on the international arena. The uprise of the BRIC countries is showing the world that traditional Rostowian models to development is not the only way to achieve economic and political growth. What has been evident in the last 10years, due to these rising powers, is that there has been a decline in western and in particular US hegemony. There no longer is a unipolar system( not that there ever was) or even a bi-polar structure, but in fact a multi-polar community now exists with the presentation of different styles of modernity and economic growth. The comparison I made to reality to help me understand the changes better is that of chairs. Below are 4 chairs. Different styles, colours, heights. They all cost different amounts and took different lengths of time to create but all in all they do the same thing. Let some one sit on it.

With my analogy, I can not forget that with every chair comes a range of preference, comfort and benefits. So this is how I picture modernity/development – there are different styles and paths to take to achieve economic growth and political stability. BRICs have just used a different route to achieve the same thing as the West.

Anchor States

I can not forget to mention the importance of the Anchor countries in the rise up to power. Theses include; China, Indonesia, Thailand, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia,  India, Pakistan, South Africa,Nigeria. Looking at this list you would not instantly recognise the importance of these states however. Due to their geographical positioning, regional economic strength and political affiliation, they have now been identified as a sphere of influence. They have security via their economy. Upset one of these countries or if it becomes a failed state will have consequences for the region they are in and therefore the international community. What is of interest about anchor states is that when looking at the Failed States index of 2009, many of these countries are listed quite near to the failed state line. In fact Nigeria nad Pakistan are listed in the top 15 failed states. At least the international community are aware of the influence whether positive or negative these states can have. I think it is about time that the international powers expand their interest to include other leaders. If you look at the state of the world a present, it is obvious that something, western liberalism, is not working.

State Failure

In order for a state to be identified as failed, it must be perceived as being no good at something. But what?… The something was discussed during the lecture today. As a group we came up with a list of responsibilities a state must do to be seen as succesful, effective and good. By establishing this list it makes it easier for the term ‘failed state’ to be used and understandably measured against these responsibilities.

Here is the list of responsibilities generated by the group the for states to achieve in order to be succesful. A state must:

  • control its territory – protect its land and the citizens that reside in it.
  • have a monopoly over force – regulate a legitimate appropriate type of force
  • comply with international law and order
  • provide public services - law and order, healthcare, education, sanitation, economic opportunities/ activities.

This list entails a lot of objectives for a state to be granted a success. In order to achieve success to this framework, it would need a state to hold the logical, and to an extent economical capabilities to achieve all the characteristics of a succesful state. I think it is fair to say that many states do not hold these qualities.

However, it can not go unmentioned and what I believe to be fundamental that these measurement tools are based on the already developed westernised framework of what we believe to be a succesful state. What happens to states that do not follow the conceptual ‘success’ framework of statehood. It seems that if you do not or can not adapt the western ideology, norms and values that govern the international community then you are classed as failed.

Adam David Morton (2005), in his article ‘The failed state of international relations’, highlights the neglect in Roberts Keohone’s view on military actions in failed states to be described as self-defence or humanitarian. Morton states that what this view neglects ‘is the way in which the expansion of international society and the adaptation of specific western norms, values and property rights is itself linked to the international expansion of western capitalism’. Many countries can not and choose not to follow the ideological liberal values associated with capitalism. This has been evident over the past couple of months in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. In my view it is not that they are failed states, they just do not want to comply with the western capital liberal practices in order to achieve success.

Judicial & Empirical Statehood

This concept has crept into my vocabulary over the last couple of lectures that I have had in Development Politics. As it is such an important concept, I believe an explanation of it is required.

Judicial statehood – boundaries tied to borders are acknowledged in law and upholds the states existence.     

Empirical statehood – activities that happen within the judicial boarders. These are based on domestic interest and do not require external interference.

Morton (2005), refers to Robert Jackson who asked, ‘to what extent to which international society should intervene in ‘quasi’ or ‘failed states’ to restore domestic conditions of security and freedom’. In the current situation in Libya, a similar question can be asked. Is the situation in Libya not an empirical matter and does not concern the international society. Or do threats of mass genocide take precedent over state sovereignty?

 The Role of Colonisation

 The historical impact of colonialism and its connection to state failure was also introduced to this topic. It was explained that one of the reason for the difficulties that surround failed states is due to their colonial past. When colonial states were divided and given independence, it was not taken into consideration whether the people they were grouping were best suited. For example…In addition to this and in agreement with Morton, decolonisation as caused mass uneven development. Due to the early advantage western countries have had over the colonised, the development process that they used is no longer viable. The process of development and statehood that post-colonial states use today are different from states developed due to dominance. In addition to this, within these post-colonial process, different frameworks of development are also used. What this shows it that the Western liberal states need to stop expecting these states to develop at a similar rate they did. They also need to stop believing that the process they used to establish western statehood is the only way to achieve a successful state. In saying that, is the western concept of successful state the only type of statehood that can exist?

Failed Sates Index

It was not a surprise that we all agreed with the first 15 states on the ‘Failed State Index’ list to be seen as failed. From Somalia to Ethiopia, there has not be a significant change over time in regards to their development of state success. coinciding with this was our agreement to the states that ranked the highest. They seem to be all in the correct position.

It is with best index that it is thought of to create this index, but with most index I can not help but ask the question ‘…. and now what?’ How will this information be used and will it make a difference in the success of states. I gather that the idea of name and shame will be included in producing such as list. I guess I can not leave out the good intention of the list to identify those states that require assistance and that are doing so well in their attempt to become a successful state. In addition to this I would assume that indices such as these justify the distribution of aid and interventions. It also enables charities and NGOs to set up development programmes in the correct regions and hopefully have the best outcome.

Just to end….It can not go unnoticed that Libya has an average ranking within the list. It is surrounded by countries such as Malaysia and Belize. As an all round result this index does not class Libya as a failed state. However lets not forget that the Index is represent the positions of the states in year 2009. It will be very interesting to see where Libya and other states such a Tunisia and Egypt will be placed in the index that represents rankings for year  2011.

Aid – A Global Buisness?

This topic on aid has unexpectedly surprised me. I actually enjoyed the readings and documentaries that I studied. Why? because it has made me aware of a topic in development that I assumed I had little interest in but now known, I would like to research further.

Unfortunately for me I did not attend this lecture and seminar on Aid, so my findings and incite are purely self explored. However I will do my best in advocating my findings.

The caption above, is how I can summarise my feelings on Aid, Politics and Developments. I feel that aid is an indirect exploitation of those that need it. Aid is essential for the existence and development of many countries and in most circumstances does good. But I can not help but notice and will mention the reoccurring benefits that the donors receive despite of whether aid is given out of genuine empathy or self-interest.

From the readings, I have learnt what I agree to be the importance of ‘political governance’ in aid. Whilst reading the literature, I could not help but be transported to the earlier class on ‘the primacy of politics’. It was Leftwich that described politics as ‘all the activities of conflict, cooperation and negotiation involved in the use, production and distribution of resources, whether material or ideal, whether at local, national or international levels, or whether in the private or public domains’ (2000: 5). Politics can not help but be at the fore front of Aid and plays a unfortunate ‘God’ when important decisions need to be made. Leftwich definition is what aid incorporates. Is it possible to have aid with out addressing the politics behind it? Isn’t it interesting that the top ten recipients of both the United Kingdom and American are very similar(source OECD.org) :

To me the UK and US are similar in the countries that it is donors of, in particular middle eastern countries. Not only that but is it impossible to miss the political connections that they too have in theses countries. Wars/ conflict in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and eco-technical interests in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Why not just give to the poorest and most deserving. Self Interest is impossible to ignore here..

Here are a few of the arguments that made a mark on me when researching this topic;

Democracy Promotion

A term that is used to explain the US interventions in many countries politics and the need for a non-violence regime change. I watched a clip from YouTube ‘US democracy promotion creates puppets worldwide’  In this clip they use the positive impact in Venezuela and the negative impact in Ukraine 2004 to show how democracy promotion is not always as good as it sounds. It basically is a hidden way to share and promote US agenda. They use aid as a means to do this. Learning this has made me realise that aid governs and steers foreign policy not jut in the US but world-wide. In the clip it talks about how people often equate Democracy with regime change, however democracy promotion is just another way to make sure markets remain free and open which is in the best interest of the West. Another example that gave me reason to challenge the legitimacy of democracy promotion is a clip I watched and read on the USAID funding services in West Bank and Gaza. (available:http://www.usaid.gov/wbg/dgo.html) The Democracy and Governance Programme initially shows a positive impact of aid on politics. concentrates on institution building and aims to better the life of the civil society. However I find it odd that ‘air-conditioning’ a typical western materialistic would be a key element in the programme. I know that it may increase work moral and efficiency if offices were cooler but once agin western mod-cons can not help but be instilled in these cultures. The people of Gaza are geographically and genetically use to hot temperatures so who is the air con for? Western officials that will also be using these offices?

Political Economy Analysis (PEA)

The new methodology of Political Economy Analysis / assessment is a system that has grabbed my attention and I support this idea a lot. It is in Unsworth (2009) that I first read about the problems with how governance was being assessed and measured. Donors have not been making the connection between development and political practice. Assumption has been the ‘drivers of change’. It has created a problem were understanding how development happens is a challenge. It is time factors such as history, geography, sources of government revenue and social and economic structure, to be taken into consideration when assessing the effectiveness of aid. ‘The DFID drivers of change programme, and the Netherlands Strategic Governance and Corruption Analysis (Netherland Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2008) explore the underlying causes of weak state capacity and poor governance’ Unsworth (2009) p.885. However, I must be fair and mention that Unsworth also recalled a hiccup in this assessment as the sources used to accumulate date could not totally be relied upon. I’m not worried about this as I belive that give them some time and that hitch will get solved. I really like this idea it just makes sense and to be honest it is quite silly that country trends were not taken into consideration from the beginning.

http://capacity4dev.ec.europa.eu/article/political-economy-assessment-tools-new-approach

This approach is also supported and advocated by Dr Heather Marquette who states that “A lot that the political economy analysis touches on, like how you deal with governance and corruption in very fragile states, state building and aid policy and so on, will possibly shape the way that donors behave and they way they do their jobs because it does complicate things,” she said, adding: “But perhaps that’s not such a bad thing”. I think that it is time, all factors are taken into account when giving aid or intervention and assessing its effectiveness. I believe many of the problems that occur between states or donors and recipients are due to cultural difference or lack of political and geographical knowledge. Political economic analysis will look at governance and growth, will incorporate an economic lens on tax and may tackle corruption.

Transparency

Why are the west so self obsessed? It really annoys me. I read the blog on aid transparency by Owen Barder. I’ll be honest and confess that I read the shortened version but still it irritates me but also confirms my opinion that aid giving is nothing but a business. To me donors, in particular bilateral donors treat aid as a business and the recipient countries get a raw deal. He shares 8 lessons that he has learnt about the transparency of aid but it is the fourth one that I agree with the most:

4. Show, don’t tell
Citizens in donor nations are increasingly sceptical of annual reports and press releases. In aid as in other public services they want to be able to see for themselves the detail of how their money is being used and what difference it is making. They increasingly expect to engaged, and are less willing to be passive funders leaving  the decisions entirely to ‘experts’. Donor agencies – whether government agencies, international organisations or NGOs – will have to adapt rapidly to become platforms for citizen engagement.

(If you want to read the rest follow the link. http://www.owen.org/blog/443)

So what is the impact of aid on politics?

Overall I believe that the impact of aid on politics is contextual. When it is in the form of humanitarian aid or aid relief, donors can do no harm by giving. During Hatis earthquake in 2009, Pakistan’s flood in 2010 and the recent disaster in Japan to give food, water and warm is a natural human reaction. In addition to this aid bring about the accountability of leaders to their citizens. It enables the unlikely opposition to gain support and flourish in a political system that usually would not allow them to. However aid that is tied, given for projects, programmes or reforms is like giving the starving a poisonous apple.

 

It is Peter Burnell (2004) in his article ‘The Domestic Political Impact of Foreign Aid’ who suggest that democratic aid giving undermines the responsibility for policy-making due to the conditionalities or incentives. External factors control policies, politics and economies which in many instances is not welcomed be the citizens of that country. In the worst circumstances aid can be a tool of reliance, a uneared income to that country. It is not a positive outcome when a country can not function without the interventions and donations from another,not to mention the unjust imbalanced equilibrium amongst the world.

There is no such thing as a self-less act!

It really does amaze me to witness the blatant disregard for others self existence that has now become the normal thought process for many powerful, wealthy and influential members of society. It would be easier to label the West as the baddies and the poor as the deserving, but what I have learnt is that in all walks of life, levels of developments and desperation of needs there are a group of non caring individuals that generate, posses and hoard poor people’s entitlements and capability to better themselves. Elites!

What type of elites are more likely to be pro-poor? It would be nice to think that all elites are pro-poor and participate in the implementation of eradicating poverty. However, this is reality. Elites can often be mistaken as solely bureaucratic individuals. In our seminar today we addressed other types of elites that we assume to be pro-poor. We looked at politicians and civil servants, faith leaders and international organisations. A good suggestion made by someone in my group was that doctors are automatically pro-poor as they bring no biases to work and cater for all. However it was argued that doctors are neither pro-poor or anti-poor. They are driven by benefits that are attached to the type of work they do and the elites position they reside in society. Perks such as expensive cars and a healthy salary in exchange for working with the poor I argue to be a means to an end and not genuine care.

Poverty can not and will not be eliminated without the help of the elites. Problem! national elites are not committed and often disconnected from pro-poor politics. The reading set for this weeks lecture was a paper writing by Naomi Hossain & Mick Moore (2002) on Arguing for the poor: elites and poverty in developing countries. 19th Century Industrialism was the key ingredient to pro-poor development policies. The threat of the poor becoming stronger, meant cooperation and vast establishment of pro-poor politics became a priority of the elite. Industrialism brought with it economic growth, jobs, social and class mobility amongst other things. Do I agree? I agree with the significance of industrialisation to pave the way for pro-poor politics but only to an extent. I think it is too simplistic to think people are that easy to cooperate and work well together. The term ‘means to and end’ fits well with my perception of elites, but am I being too pessimistic. It was discussed during our seminar that elites do not participate in pro-poor politics due to kindness, but for the infrastructure and lifestyle they lead which is sustained via the implementation of policies that best suites them. I argue that in this sense, the (so-called) voluntary increase in university tuitions fees in England is a means to an end for national elites to sustain the infrastructure around them needed to remain an elite. My pessimistic and slightly conspiracy thoughts ring alarm bells telling me this is just another way for the elites to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. Making sure the increase is the decisions of the university makes them non responsible for the shortfall of many poor students. However overall it is the elites that make these policies and gives the universities the legal capabilities for fees to increase.

Section 3 in Hossain & Moore (2002) advocates the potential of elites to participate in pro-poor politics. I enjoyed reading this as I believe what they wrote is what most are thinking . The section on poverty without engagement, gave be an opportunity to look back on what I wrote on my previous blog ‘capabilities governs politics’. Poverty must be conceptual. with the debate on how to view poverty as economistic or multidemential, I still advocate the stance that context is vital. The section also discussed poverty reduction due to benefits. Hossain & Moore explained the notion of negative and positive drivers for elites who participate in pro-poor politics. The example of disease-spreading will influence elites to reform health for the poor helped me to understand and confirm that pro-poor politics is not a selfless act. If I take my concern on university fees policies, elites(politicians) encourage other elites (heads of uni) by offering them positive drivers to implement these policies.

It was asked to apply what I have learnt and read to a country of my chosing. I chose Jamaica to give a very brief example of how I feel elites perceive pro-poor politics. Jamaica a tiny island in the Caribbean that has recently been upgraded to middle-income country. It has a thriving tourist industry, education success is in the increase, HIV is on the decrease. It is obvious that pro-poor policies have been put in place by elites  to better the country in order for it to be upgraded in its wealth status. However, Jamaica has major housing inequalities, the poor are uninfluential, violent crime  and sex crimes are through the roof, sanitation for a third of the country is below standard. Elites in Jamaica implement policies that will sustain the structure that they require to remain elites which are education, health and tourism. Housing, crime and sanitation for elites are not a priority for their existence. Visit Jamaica a depiction of paradise and you will be surprised with the realism and lack of interest elites have put into mainland pro-poor policies and the people’s survival. I was!

Capabilities governs politics???

Pro-poor politics… a concept that I believe is demonstrated (or should be demonstrated) in every aspect of political life. I take the stance of positive obligation. Those that can provide, should provide.  

Earlier today I spent time in my Development Ethics module discussing what is meant by inequality and needs in relation to equity. What we concluded was that there is no single definition of these term. They are contextual to whether you are talking from a political, economical or social perspective. In addition to this it was acknowledged that there are different levels of inequality and needs dependent on the infrastructure of a country. With this fresh in my mind, I entered my afternoon class on ‘pro-poor politics’ with an ambiguous analysis of what is defined as poor in ‘pro-poor’ politics.  After two hours of lectures, seminars and further discussion, I can now conclude that the is no universal ‘single’ definition of what it means to be poor.

Who is more deserving?

poverty in africa    

  neither. Both children are experiencing poverty and a very poor quality of life in contrast to the average standard of living for their country.

What I am trying to show here, is that ‘pro-poor politics will and does very dependent on not only the type of political system a country has but also on the capabilities of its citizens.

Moore& Putzel (1999) ‘ Thinking Strategically about Politics and Poverty’ provides a political analysis of how governments are combating the challenge of poverty alleviate and how effective are the systems used to implement policies (voting, public participation). I enjoyed reading this article it was easy to read, well easier than Leftwich last week. What I got from this article is that pro-poor policies, in order to be effective and accurate, I believe are best influenced form a local level/ communities, if not the poor themself. However I acknowledge the major problems that will and do arise in doing this. I understand that accessibility and government corruption hinder the voice of the poor. Subsequently I also believe it is the responsibility or can I use the term positive obligation to get the voice of the poor heard.  As I am ditsy sometimes, I did not look at the date of the article until it was mentioned in the lecture. It is  a good piece of literature to refer to for what has changed or been achieved over the past ten years in regards to pro-poor politics. The concept of decentralisation and devotion ten years ago may have seemed like the best idea in the world, however from british experience has not always worked out to become an effective means to combat poverty and governance. amongst a nations citizens

The passage below is a piece taken from the blog of Ken Lipp, A doctorate at Cambridge University – Project PM, First Praxis, and Gaia’s Lament (http://firstpraxis.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/project-pm-first-praxis-and-gaias-lament/)

Diary of Gaia, the Starving Mother
 
I know poverty because poverty was there before I was born and it has become part of life like the blood through my veins. Poverty is not going hungry for a single day and eating the next day. Poverty is going empty with no hope for the future.
      Poverty is getting nobody to feel your pain; and poverty is when all dreams are in vain because nobody is there to help you, because there is no peaceful sleep.
      Poverty is watching your mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters die in pain and in sorrow for want of a meal
      Poverty is hearing your grandmothers and grandfathers cry out to death to come take them because they are tired of this world.
      Poverty is watching your own children and grandchildren die in your arms, and being helpless to aid or comfort them. Poverty is watching your children and grandchildren shed tears in their deepest sleep.
      Poverty is suffering from HIV/AIDS, dying in agony, and with the curse of shame that comes from ignorance of the illness’ cause.
      Poverty is when you hide your face.
      Poverty is hiding because you feel less than human.
      Poverty is when you dream of bread and fish, and never wake to eat.
      Poverty never sleeps.
This passage, tugged at my emotions. Not because of what she said or the words used,but because what this mother has said is a unfortunate reality for many people in the world.
 
In our seminar today, it was obvious that many of the students have had personal experience of fighting for pro-poor politics or experience the ineffectiveness of governance in their home countries. Sitting there it was very hard not to try to compare the lack of pro-poor policies in the UK to the example that were given in particular African countries. It made me fill, a little unappreciative of where I have by luck been born. It also made me aware that the freedom of being able to vote, turn on a tap and get clean running hot or cold water, the ability to open the fridge and take what I desire from it without think is not a given right but a high standard of luxury that the majority of the world will never experience.
 
The feasibility and challenges of  Moore & Putzel (1999) solutions to promote the interests of the poor was discussed in great depth during the seminar. The typology allowed me and I would probably believe many others, to understand better the mass undefined concepts within these categories and what role they play in politics.  I believe that it was agreed upon by all that Collapsed states such as Somalia, were the poor have no voice at all and pro-poor policies have proven to be majorly ineffective would need to establish effective central government in order for the interest of the poor to be acknowledged. It was also believed that the same could be suggested for other countries that governed under a Personal Rule system. However power via central government can also cause major problem for the poor. The example of Cameroon was given due to its political system being centralised. The example of  all main political offices and support being in the capital, citizens constantly had to travel to collect their pensions for example. The problem here is that the poor who cannot afford to travel has no way of receiving their pension. Also the elderly may find it very difficult to travel so far so often to collect their pension. I am glad such examples were given as it helped me to understand in real terms how difficult it is for the poor to reach the decision makers and then try to influence policies.
 
If a poor person is not given the resources or support, no way of getting to the top, no one to listen from the top then they lack the capabilities to participate in ‘pro-poor’ influences.

Politics ‘Shit’s’ on the little man

What is Politics? This question was asked during the lecture. It could be seen as an ambiguous, broad or even silly question but either way it silenced the room. For just a couple of effective seconds you could hear the clattering of the students minds ready to explode with knowledge. Professor Hewitt smiled, stuttered a little and then  spoke his own personal view on what is politics. 

I remember an advert a couple of years back that wanted to encourage people to vote or be engaged in politics. ‘I don’t do politics’ . It was a brilliant idea and got me as well as other understanding that many, in fact most things are politics. Have a look at this clip (only 50 secs long). I think it is a brilliant uncomplicated explanation of what can seem to be the most complex concept in this discipline.

Leftwich defines politics in  more depth . He says politics is ‘all the activities of conflict, cooperation and negotiation involved in the use, production and distribution of resources, whether material or ideal, whether at local, national or international levels, or whether in the private or public domains’ (2000: 5). This explanation is interesting as when I read it I automatically felt an economic descriptive twist to the words. The power of politics can not be ignored as daily we witness how each decision made in Westminster, Washington or Dubai affects us directly as well as indirectly. No other intangible force has such power but God.

From this lecture I learnt that Politics is an unexplainable concept. It is everything whilst still being nothing. I understand that politics is the foundation of trade, conflict, development and more. What Is still unanswered though of mine is who owns politics. My quickest and most simplest response would be ‘man‘. My problem with that is which men?

I have recently read an article by Amartya Sen ‘Development: Which Way Now?’ ( The Economic Journal, VOL.93, No.372. (Dec., 1983), pp.745-762.). When reading it I made cross-reference to the topic that they was mentioned by both in regards to socioeconomic development. Leftwich writes about the levels and forms of socioeconomic development. He emphasises that the developing nations were lagging behind those of settled, predominately western countries. He quotes ‘ all forms of capital were sparse or weakly developed and infrastructure non-existence or deficient’. My comparison to Sen lays with her thoughts of capabilities. If the developing nations do not have the similar level of development as do the west then their capabilities of bettering them selves will be hindered drastically. With this it must be acknowledged that development is greatly unequal and directly selfish. From this I feel saddened but also really grateful that I was born in such a rich land ( no so at the moment) in comparison to most. Some blame it on mono-crop economies (Hirschman), others on geographical location. I blame man for the unjust, unequal standards of development today.

Institutions, where do I start. I my self think there are too many global, international, regional, economical, political and dictatorial institutions. The planning of development can no longer be done without the guidance or some may argue interference of institutions. I am so glad that Leftwich wrote about the unequal expansion that institutions has brought to third world countries. Due to need and power, legitimacy and authority institutions have within development, third world nation have basically been drawn the short straw. The institutions built have been based on western ethics and power. In advocate of the modernisation theory, institutions should replace the traditions and cultures many of the developing nations have. However my argument is that who put the west in power. In a position were they can make decisions on what is wrong or right or what people should or should not be doing. In this position power and therefore politics is a nasty concept in that it belittles most the world.

Politics ‘SHIT’s’ on the little man.

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