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Rethinking Regional Development

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Relationship between developmental process and geographical space has been a universal factor since the conceptualisation of development itself at least in the modern sense. Developmental history, in the sense it is defined in mainstream, started since human has learnt about accumulation and the history traces back to the beginning of agriculture when it became possible to store the output and use it later. The sense of space, initially as a physical entity and later as cultural landscape remained attached with the process of development. The initiation of industrialisation and its reliance on fund resources made the case for space more distinctive and scholars started becoming dogmatic about the spatial characteristics. The loosely understood space got more precisely defined in late nineteenth and early twentieth century when theories of development came into existence with the conception of external demand and comparative advantage. Still, the concept of regional development remains a widely debated and loosely implemented concept in the developmental discourse across the world with India not being an exception. Several reasons are cited for this such as the weakness of the implementing agencies, bureaucratic character of the executive organ/s of the state, lack of active participation of the people and so on. However, very few questions have been raised on the way the so-called regional development polices are formulated with a clear idea of benefiting the power group at various levels in different societies.

The present paper's attempt is to deconstruct some of these myths and analyse the conception of regional development using examples from India. In this backdrop, this paper will try to explain the continuity or uniformity in the theories behind “regional development” as Rees (1989) stated “to a large extent, the more theories change, the more they remain the same” and the poor implementation of such theories in India. This paper would also try to reconstruct the theory behind state's strategy and action towards minimising inter-regional and intra-regional disparities that has given rise to higher level of concentration of economic activities in the country.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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