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Pathways to national development

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by Maxwell Haywood 16.NOV.07

In my last article printed in the Searchlight newspaper of October 26, 2007, I reflected on the question posed by Jomo Thomas in his article entitled “Will St. Vincent and the Grenadines ever develop?” I looked at the global dimensions of national development, and I concluded that St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) will develop only when the people in their vast numbers unite with their Government and act in cooperation and solidarity with international groups and organizations which are seeking more equitable global trading relations between and among countries.{{more}}

This second article looks at some important aspects of national development and I am putting forth the idea that only an organized, united and disciplined population will ensure that SVG does indeed develop. It is only within this framework of a people-centered society that the developmental problems that Jomo Thomas highlights in his articles could be resolved.

The national development process is complex with all aspects (economic,

social, politics, and natural environment) of life having an influence. The capacity of the nation to effectively relate to these various aspects will determine the pace, extent and depth of the development process. Development in this sense implies acquiring the capacity to effect social transformation; it speaks about removing the obstacles to social justice so that all Vincentians will have the capacity to make use of opportunities to contribute to building themselves, their families, their communities and their nation.

Profound focus is needed in addressing the various aspects of national development. This means that SVG cannot afford to fail to plan its development path. Now more than ever, the country is in need of a national democratic development strategy. This strategy must be one that every Vincentian could feel as if they own it. To face the raging the storms of modern globalization by just going along to get along will only do more damage to the national interest. Preparation for this modern globalization is indispensable for effective management of the country’s progress. The inequities of international trade could be less deadly if SVG plans and acts to counteract them.

Beyond that, many of the social development needs have deep roots in the nation’s history requiring a focused and disciplined effort in order to meet these needs. Without such a comprehensive national democratic development strategy, how could SVG manage its development? What will it manage? In the absence of such a strong strategy, social evils will deepen and multiply, and national achievements will be extremely difficult to attain and sustain.

Such a strategy must place heavy emphasis on the resources of SVG. The country possesses social, political, economic, cultural and natural environmental resources it could use for national transformation. The problem is that these resources are not properly organized. The time has come for a comprehensive and transparent assessment of national and community-based resources in order to determine how these resources could be developed and deployed in the context of a national democratic development strategy. This would in turn give much hope for greater gains in terms of national development.

A national democratic development strategy could only emerge through a genuine national conversation. We really do not know the full extent of the positive outcomes of a genuine national conversation about what the nation could do for itself. I could already see in such national conversation the overflowing of creative and great ideas on how SVG could develop. A conversation of this nature would inject a high sense of ownership in the national development processes. Marginalization and its dysfunctional impact would begin to crumble. Productivity would be given a firm foundation on which to grow.

This kind of national conversation is a humane and non-partisan method of development. It generates consciousness of social living and at best it is driven by that consciousness. As a society or a nation, the people need to reflect consistently and purposefully (with the goal of development of their lives in mind) on the economic, social, political, and environmental realities of their existence. The language of development and transformation must become part of the culture or way of life of Vincentians. In a very basic way, this is a precondition for national development.

Only the will of Vincentians will allow for national development. It is difficult to see how development could take place unless the majority of people decide (as a result of mass mobilization) that they will have to be the movers and shakers in the development process. The participation and cooperation of every able body is central to the transformation process.

“Will St. Vincent and Grenadines ever develop?” I will answer yes. However, it will take a people-centered development approach to effectively address the challenges, issues and problems of national sustainable development. I am confident that Vincentians will eventually fully embrace this kind of people-centered approach to development in order to find new pathways for national development. Let us hope that the nation will not wait until its back is completely against the wall then turn to this development approach for rescue. One stitch in time saves nine.

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