A Psychological Strategy for Alternative Human Development : India's Performance Since Independence

Prayag Mehta, Sage, 1998, 252 p, tables, ISBN : 8170367115, $23.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Contents: Preface. 1. Human development in India. 2. Behavioural tendencies in state functioning and in management of programmes. 3. Government, bureaucracy and human development. 4. Goals of human development: need for structural and behavioural changes. 5. Accelerating human development: the need for active state interventions. 6. Public activism for human development. 7. Democratisation and human development: a psychological strategy for alternative action. Appendix. Bibliography. Index.

"In this comprehensive and authoritative work, Professor Prayag Mehta identifies a large number of inter-related issues which affect human development in India. Wide-ranging fieldwork supported by appropriate data form the backdrop for detailed discussions of the country's programmes for poverty alleviation, health care, literacy, primary education, and for protecting forests and the environment.

"Professor Mehta's analysis points towards certain dysfunctional systemic tendencies as the major culprits for the faulty implementation of these otherwise laudable programmes for social development. These include behavioural patterns induced by the traditional values of superordination and subordination entrenched in India's social fabric and administrative system; the tradition of paternalistic authoritarianism on the part of administrators; and excessive bureaucratisation. Instead of empowering the people, these tendencies have the effect of sapping their energies, engendering low self-esteem and alienating them.

"The author concludes his study by suggesting ways of improving the country's human development record. He propounds an alternative psychological strategy to bring about far-reaching structural and behavioural changes. This approach is designed to develop capability amongst the vulnerable and to inculcate positive self-concepts in order to liberate the creative energies of the people. He does not, however, exclude the state and proposes ways to achieve a happy marriage between social mobilisation and active state intervention so as to accelerate the socio-economic development of the country.

"This important and timely book will be essential reading for scholars in the fields of political science, management, education, psychology, behavioural sciences, development studies, public administration and activists involved with grassroots development."

[Prayag Mehta is Director, Participation and Development Centre, New Delhi.]

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