CONFLICT OF DEVELOPMENT, CULTURE AHEAD OF DEFINITION: FIELD STUDY IN MAHAWELI SYSTEM “C” IN SRI LANKA
In the 1960s, “Development” was an economic phenomenon, but in the latter period measures related with poverty, inequality and unemployment were also embedded into the concept. The introduction of Physical Quality Life Index in the 1970s and the Human Development Index in 1990 broadened the way of measuring development. Development must be conceived of as a multidimensional process involving major changes in the social structures, popular attitudes and social and national institutions as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality and the eradication of poverty. However, so far human goals of development in light of cultural aspects embodied in the life styles of people have not been considered in deﬁnitions of development. This study concentrates on the ambiguity in the development deﬁnitions. In the attainment of this objective, the paper peruses the Mahaweli development project, the largest integrated rural development multipurpose program that was implemented in Sri Lanka. According to the “Project Reassessment Report” prepared by the World Bank in 2004, assessments rate the outcomes as highly unsatisfactory, based on the modest relevance of the project’s development activities, modest progress in achieving those objectives and negligible efficiency. The study was conducted based upon the survey-based methodology. Primary data were collected through the survey conducted in three selected areas attached to the Mahaweli “C” system, namely (1) Hobariyawa, (2) Millaththawa and (3) Wiranagama. Descriptive statistical methods were utilized to analyze the data. The major statistical techniques used were percentage analysis, correlation analysis and other qualitative methods. Out of the total households residing in these three areas, 71 households that earn their income from ﬁshery, livestock, paddy and other crops were randomly selected as the sample of the study. Firstly, the study revealed that people who live in this division are satisﬁed with what they have achieved and are contended, trustworthy and healthy though this project has not become a success according to the national objectives. Secondly, these people have not got caught in the ‘competition’ and everybody is at the same level. Hence they live a very relaxed life. Finally, this concludes that the progress attained by these masses have been underestimated by interpreting it in terms of quantitative and economic aspects of development. Hence, cultural aspects, personal religious beliefs and attitudes should also be taken into account in assessing ‘Development’.
Keywords: Development, Culture, Mahaweli System
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