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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Critically analyze the assertion that ‘developing countries are responsible for their own underdevelopment.Essay Two

The disasters and catastrophes of development which face the African and Asian continents and its people have revived the interest of scholars and different political theorizing and debate. Barring this; however, according to Claude Ake (in Kenneth 2000:67) what has been developing in post colonial Afro-Asian nationalities is underdevelopment. The said regions have averaged negative growth rates for over two decades and more. Meanwhile the past has been so disastrous and catastrophic, that the future looks hopeless and desperate. Indeed, the only certainty of development developing countries for the rest of the century is that poverty will spread and intensify unobstructed.
The most underlying concept of underdevelopment like development is masked in controversy and storm, because it has no precise definition and scholarly consensus. Intentionally on the other hand, some scholars see underdevelopment as the direct opposite or the other side of development altogether. To increase curiosity, some others define it by comparing the levels of development of two or more societies and while others see it as absence of development. In most case, underdevelopment is neither opposite nor absence of development and it is some what very complex and intricate issue.
Underdevelopment as per Daniel (1980) refers to the state of an economy of a satellite economy characterized by underemployment of human and natural resources and such economy is characterized by low real income per capita in comparison with those of North America and West Europe altogether.
Therefore, underdevelopment scholars argued that the status of insufficient development and under employment of human and natural resources was acquired under historical circumstances such as colonialism, drain of wealth, slavery, imperialism and neo-colonialism in most part. To surprise they contend that underdevelopment is synonymous with exploitation, domination and highhandedness.

A plethora of components characterize under-development and to put in far broader forms that spread across factors. The characteristics of under-development are exclusive and exhaustive. There are many factors and attribute that overlaps and mutually antagonistic too in respect of its attributes.
Caharcteristics of Under-development

1.Predominance of agriculture as a source of employment.
2.Low per capita income.
3.Use of traditional and less efficient techniques of production.
4.Low standard of living.
5.Existence of widespread poverty.
6.Large inequalities.
7.Low rate of saving and capital formation.
8.Higher contribution of agriculture in National Income.
9.High rate of population growth.
10.facilities and poor sanitation facilities.
11.Existence of large unemployment.
12.Inadequate infrastructural facilities.
13.Predominance of primary exports.
14.Poor quality of human capital, low literacy ratio, low level of education, inadequate availability of health
This proves that under-development of developing countries is multi-faceted and diversified. To put it in one arch card is almost foolish and unrealistic. Understanding the nature and causes of underdevelopment is a complex task complicated by theoretical debates between scholars and a large amount of terminologies, variables, labels and categories. However, for most reason there are several theoretical postulations as to why some parts of the world are developed while others are underdeveloped and hence the underdevelopment theory survive to exist all debate. Most obviously the underdevelopment theory otherwise known as the UDT premised their argument on the main thesis that development and underdevelopment are two aspects of a historical process through which the underdeveloped countries were integrated into the international capitalist system and systems of unequal exchange that can come ut with contradicting phenomenon in different streams of nations. To put in other words, there is a dialectical relationship between development and underdevelopment in the sense that the western capitalist countries that are developed and in the process underdeveloped the present day underdeveloped countries by a historical process if unequal exchange; that the process of development and underdevelopment came with the worldwide mercantilists and capitalist expansion of European first through slavery and then colonialism following, subsequently in neo-colonial activities. With out any objection, this perspective of the underdevelopment theorists and understanding of underdevelopment,  Afro-Asian underdevelopment, can be viewed from the nature and degree of capital penetration and resource exploitation, depletion of resources, structure and varieties of dependence and economic domination, their impact on development policies and strategies as well as the mechanism through which surplus value is extracted and transferred between bloc.
Under-development is foremost theoretical perspectives on development. The leading theories are Liberal, Marxist and under-development perspectives. In the late 70s and 80s, political scientists and sociologists began to focus on global poverty and inequality by scholarly interest. Because of improvements in global communication the North becomes aware of poverty in the South and South began to learn how to want things that the North has but should be shared on several grounds.
This growing understanding was prominently because gap and deformities between rich and poor increased poles apart. The poor in rich countries are much wealthier than those in poor countries and enthusing. Dividing line not so much between rich and poor of one country became outdated, but between North and South began to surface and attract much attention.  Robert Gilpin notes three theories that seek to explain global poverty, underdevelopment, and inequality that are Neoclassical Liberalism, Marxism and Underdevelopment.
The liberal points to the fact that developing countries have labour surplus and capital deficit; if national borders open to free trade and investment, developing countries receive more capital that which accelerates growth that can result in removing poverty and development problems. So that they can attain development and under-development in different modus operandi of global trade. While a global open economy leads to development; this process is not uniform across territories.  There are some domestic factors that hinder development by same time, despite openness in developing countries. Inefficient government. Subsistence agriculture. Lack of technological education are instances.
While there are many differences among liberal development theories that stand in conflict, they do seem to agree on two causes of international poverty.  Poor integration of LDCs in the world economy and inefficient economic policy of developing countries. According to Gilpin, liberal theories of development have one important shortcoming to our dismay.  That is absence of politics from explanations of development and under-development.
According to Marx and Engels, the globalized production and imperialism lead to development in the world. The driving force of development is class conflict to them.  Some societies (in the South) lack class conflict and it has some reasons. Imperialism destabilizes the status quo by introducing modern technology and therefore, deposits the seed of class conflict. So Lenin adds that exporting capital and technology to the periphery will on the one hand; develop these countries and on the other hand weaken the core.
In underdevelopment arguments far more, the globalization of production systematically leads to underdevelopment.  Gilpin focuses on two positions that seek to explain this relationship assuch. Structuralism and Dependency theory. For structuralists, trade is  bad for poor countries. Developing countries are trapped in a position of underdevelopment by their social, political, and economic structures. There are some particularly bad structures in such economies.  subsistence agriculture, overpopulation, low propensity to save,, inefficient governments and dependence on primary exports. World look like according to structuralists in to two streams (Prebisch). Countries belong to either of two categories that is Core means advanced, wealthy countries of the North. Periphery that is underdeveloped, poor countries of the South.
Structuralists see unbalanced exchanges between the core and periphery as the driving force of underdevelopment.  This has to do with the disadvantageous terms of trade of the periphery relative to the core.  The terms of trade refers ratio between export prices and import prices.   Terms of trade are biased against the periphery because their export prices are low and import prices high. The underlying cause of this disadvantage is technological gap between core and periphery.
Another one is dependency. This is a situation where the economic development in one country is conditioned by economic changes in another country by far.  The latter country is self-sustaining, while the former is dependent. Control in the world of dependency theorists is exerted through economic neo-colonialism. The questions who and what are the main instruments of domination and exploitation is important in the analysis of dependency theories. 
There are three international-economic mechanisms through which dependency theorists explain underdevelopment.  Exploitation theory that is  core advances at cost of periphery not only does capitalist economy keep the periphery underdeveloped, but it also immoderate it.  Imperial neglect position that is capitalism favored some developed countries over others by not receiving trade and investment from the developed world, the ignored countries cannot progress.  Dependent development that is growth can happen even with the exploitation by core capitalists, but it’s not self-sustaining and does not lead to independence.
There are also the political mechanisms that explain underdevelopment that is domestic elites ally with international capitalists.  As a result of this, instead of protecting their country and seeking independence; periphery leaders allow the economic exploitation by international capitalists to continue. The only solution to wipe out under-development is revolution.  Socialist revolution replaces the corrupt elites and brings about an equitable society. Nationalist revolution breaks the links with core countries and brings about independence
In fact what exactly constitute the reasons for the under-development of developing country is a question that needs to be explored with utmost care since this a question that has many traps. What caused the underdevelopment in Asia, Africa and Latin America is a complex issue. Europe’s past and present exploitation of Africa played a significant part altogether. Prior to the Europeans arrived in in Asia, Africa and Latin America, these part of the world had vibrant social, economic, and political structures. In fact these were severely interrupted by Europeans to create wealth for themselves[i].
The renowned scholars Paul Baran and Andre Gunder Frank are the originators of the concept of economic underdevelopment and it popularized during the late 1960s. This is also known as the Baran-Frank thesis in under-development studies. The summary of the thesis was that industrialized rich nations obstruct or delay the development of poor nations by the help of policies and interventions designed to protect their global dominance over world trade and power.   One of the main points that the thesis layout is the concept of the development of the underdevelopment. The concept of development of underdevelopment is actually a process where several countries have made development by exploiting resources causing underdevelopment in many countries for most reasons. The process started by the European nations in the early 16th century by colonizing much of world with their superior military equipments derived from the countless wars in Europe at that time. This colonization has lasted until the very end of 20th century.[ii]
            It is wrong to assume that under-development is due to reasons that are produced by developing countries. Developing countries are no more responsible for their under-development. Under-development has many far reaching and complex reasons. Under-development and development is by any yardsticks are some kind of capitalist criteria to dissect some of reason why some countries are rich and others are poor. However development can no longer be measured in terms of mere, material criteria. Instead of growth theories it is better to approach development through some qualitative measures. For instance, human development index, gender index, etc.  Instead of mere roads, large dams, and contraction it is better to improve living condition s and standard of life of people.
            Under-development is the result of a historical process of unequal exchange between dualities. The measure of comparison is problematique. Developing countries are not responsible for their under-development. The dependency school is right in their observation.
Yet there are some factors needed to include in the literature on under-development form poor country perspective. A historical perspective is essential in order to understand why African countries have failed to take part in the international economic development we have seen in this era of ICT  and new age technologies. Lack of political stability accounts for many of the development problems in post-colonial African and Asian nationalities. The main reason for the weak development of developing countries after independence is the failure of the state machinery. For most cases form of governance, are often referred to in many literature as ‘patrimonial rule’ or ‘personal rule’, reflects traditional African political culture[iii]. It is an intellectual challenge to fully grasp the historical causes of Africa’s underdevelopment and to distinguish between internal and external components.
On the one hand, the fact is that many of developing country problems are due to a combination of Western and African factors and the fact that Africa has been integrated into the world economy on unfavorable terms[iv]. Along with it was that the intrinsic geographical and demographic disadvantages that means an international effort on a completely new scale is needed to lift the continent out of its present state of underdevelopment altogether.
On the other end of the spectrum, many of the problems facing African countries in particular are due to internal causes and factors. Ethnic differences and political and cultural traditions have made it difficult to build strong institutions and state machinery.

[ii] Development of Underdevelopment, Oct 2005, (http://www.studymode.com/essays/Development-Underdevelopment-66941.html) accessed on 19-03-2013.
[iii] Jarle Simensen, Africa: the causes of under-development and the challenges of globalization, (http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/ud/kampanjer/refleks/innspill/afrika/simensen.html?id=533474) accessed on 19-03-2013.
[iv] Ibid.


Kenneth N. (2000) Corruption, leadership and the Dialectics of Development in Africa. Associated printing and Litho Co. Ltd Enugu Nigeria.
Daniel A.O,(1980)Imperialism and Dependency: Obstacle to African Development. Fourth Dimension Publishers, Enugu, Nigeria.

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