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Introduction to Economic Development

The study of economic development has attracted the attention of economists right from Adam Smith down to Karl Marx and Keynes. However, they were mainly interested in the problems which were essentially static in nature and largely related to a Western European framework of social and cultural institutions. It was after the Second World War that economists started devoting their attention towards analysing the problems of underdeveloped countries. Their interest in the economics of development has been further stimulated by the wave of political resurgence that swept the Asian and African nations after the Second World War. The desire on the par: of new leaders in these countries to promote rapid economic development coupled with the realisation on the part of the developed nations, that “poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere”, has further aroused interest in the subject.

But the interest of the wealthy nations in removing widespread poverty of the less developed countries has not been aroused by any humanitarian motive. The most cogent reasons for aiding the less developed countries had been the cold war between Russia and the West. Each tries to enlist the support and loyalty of underdeveloped countries by promoting larger aid than the other. Economic development has also an export value for both the aid-giving and aid-receiving countries. This development led to the concept of development being viewed in terms of paradigms of economic
development. What is a paradigm?

Once again, this is a world view shared by a group of people working on a particular topic, example, economic development. There are so many views, but generally we group them into two namely- the orthodox paradigm and the radical paradigm.

Each group’s view affects the intellectual activities of its members, for example, it determines the questions they ask, the information they seek to collect, the method of interpreting the information collected and even the people they talk to.

Each group sticks so much to its own method and conclusions, that it rejects everything coming from the other group, including constructive criticisms. Even when there is crisis in a particular group, for example, when the method fails to produce useful results, the members still stick to its guidelines rather than breaking with it and adopting another. In this way, each paradigm seeks to insulate itself from falsification and for this reason they are sometimes referred to as ideologies.