Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM), derives inspiration from its unique understanding of the concept of Development. The definition of development and how it should be measured is dynamic: there are various models that experts have come up with to represent its complex processes. Many of these definitions are one-dimensional and only look at it through an economic lens. However, to understand, let alone define, the complexities of development, we need to take a nuanced approach. We need to look at development from social, cultural, political and other dimensions affecting human life and progress to understand the big picture. GRAAM believes that development is the constant expansion of human capabilities.
This definition, though abstract in nature, can often be seen in daily life as securities and liberties for communities and individuals. This means that people have the political space to voice their problems and choose the solution which best represents them. Communities should have space in mandating their own development process. The dominant players of development need to take the time to listen to people with respect and to provide them the platform to articulate their own aspirations. The drivers of development should then be able to rightfully interpret the problem and advocate solutions. Refining this cycle of listening and interpreting will significantly enhance the current development process.
Synergistic Partnership for Development
In the constitutional context of India, the state and the community are the only permanent institutions. Both are interdependent on each other to function properly: the state creates laws for the citizenry, which in turn populates the structures made by them. India is a welfare state, which promises all services and securities to its community. Often, however, the state is unsuccessful in delivering the promised services to its intended beneficiaries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) then step in to provide these services.
The private sector also plays a major role in the development of the nation. After 1991, state policies such as deregulation and privatisation unshackled the private sector and liberalised their economic structures, thereby giving them more freedom to provide goods and services to the community. This private sector is also mainly populated by the communities. By paying taxes, the corporations contribute to the state, which in turn provides welfare for the communities at large. By paying salaries to the community members, the private sector contributes to the expansion of capabilities.
Each player needs the other to function well and generate growth in the country. While the NGOs often depend on the state for support, likewise the government relies on the NGOs to voice the issues in the community. Similarly, the corporate sector might join other NGOs in different social initiatives facilitating growth for both the individual and the community at large. GRAAM believes that by focusing on the interaction between the four primary players (the community, the state, the NGO sector, and the private sector), it can learn how to facilitate and fine-tune these interactions to impact the development of India, setting a model for the progress of other developing nations.