Human Development in a Community

A holistic and evolutionary vision of community development.

A total human development process, which leads to this integral development of the human potential in a community, is made of three stages. These stages can be pursued simultaneously, but with a predominant emphasis on some aspects or dimensions of development at each stage. The first stage involves fulfillment of the basic needs of the population; creation of employment opportunities and development of employable, productive and entrepreneurial skills in people; satisfaction of the desire for a better enjoyment of life and also better utilization of the opportunities of life; and finally creation of all other factors which lead to an overall material and economic well being of the community like for example health, hygiene, nutrition and ecology. Second stage is the realization of the social, cultural, political well-being which involves the actualization of the triple values of French revolution, liberty, equality and fraternity in the outer life and preservation of all that is valuable in the local culture. Liberty means not merely individual rights but a free participation of the people in their own development, especially in decision making, with maximum freedom to grow from within through a self-directed development and minimum of external rules or compulsion. Equality means equitable distribution of or access to wealth, power, knowledge, resources, opportunities and an equal, full and joyous participation of each individual in the communal life. Fraternity means social cohesion, solidarity, harmony and comradeship. Third stage is the mental, moral, aesthetic and spiritual development of the community.

In a more psychological perspective, the first stage is the fulfillment of the needs of the physical being or the body. Second stage is the satisfactions of the needs of the vital, emotional and sensational being for wealth, power, enjoyment, status, recognition, harmonious relationship, achievement, expansion, autonomy and mastery. Third stage is the quest of our higher mental, moral and spiritual nature for knowledge, understanding, values, ideals and reconnect our souls with the spiritual source of our own being and the universe, which is the highest aim of religion.

One of the major aims of this third stage of development is to fully internalize the triple values of French revolution in the mind, heart and soul of the people so that the outer, civic liberty, equality or fraternity becomes a spontaneous expression and organization of the inner liberty, equality and fraternity, firmly established in the consciousness of the community. As the outer needs of the body and life are reasonably fulfilled, the predominant thrust of development has to shift from economics, politics or external machinery to the awakening and fulfillment of the deeper, higher and inner needs of the mind, heart and soul through education and human resources development.

The execution of this integral vision of development requires a network of institutions and organization working together in close co-operation for the total development of the community. The main players would be government organizations, NGOs, donor agencies, business, local institutions which represent the will, voice and wisdom of the people and other organizations which have specific expertise in dealing with the various stages or aspects of development. The administrative organ which governs the development process should contain representatives from all these institutions. Management of the development process requires an apex body which draws the strategic plans and goals, co-ordinates and monitors the activities of the various institutions and directs them to the targeted goals. Each institution involved in the development process, especially its leaders and managers, should have a clear perception and understanding of the integral vision and its specific role in it, even while focusing its attention and effort on some aspects, domains or tasks of development.

M.S. Srinivasan

The author is a Research Associate at Sri Aurobindo Society and on the editorial board of Fourth Dimension Inc. His major areas of interest are Management and Indian Culture.

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