Vandana Shiva’s thought-provoking definition of development

Vandana Shiva’s thought-provoking definition of development

In this short video, the Indian philosopher, environmentalist and political activist Vandana Shiva, questions the mainstream concept of development, in a simple yet powerful way:

If you haven’t read Vandana Shiva’s book Staying Alive”, I recommend that you to do it.

It is a strong eye-opener on the enormous negative effects modern science and development, in particular agriculture, forestry and water management have on the planet and on people in the Global South, especially women (historically the one sustaining society and experts in preserving nature).

Vandana Shiva is one of the most interesting thinker on development, unveiling the false myth of a neutral, objective, universal, almost sacred “modern science”, whose aims, methods and procedures have long been unquestioned, to clearly show how in reality scientific knowledge and economic development are de facto  patriarchal projects of Western origins, a continuation of colonialism, driven by capitalism and its quest for profit maximization and resource exploration at any cost – legitimizing the destruction of nature, its ecosystems and life for many people (often the poorest) in the name of a false “development”, which only enriches big companies and the privileged. 

In her lifelong work, Shiva has shed light on how what is commonly called development in reality is “maldevelopment”, the destruction of integrated ecological systems, bringing inequality, injustice and exploitation, imposing a westernized, male-dominated view of development in total contrast with the ecological and holistic development historically maintained by rural populations and women. This development is in reality a continuation of colonialism, where the rich countries and companies exploit the regions in the Global South in search for profit maximization, violating and destroying their ecosystems, robbing their natural resources and bringing inequality, poverty and injustice – all this in the name of western development and innovation.

Shiva advocates for other forms of knowledge (that are not the patriarchal western ones), and development styles (which are respecting and preserving nature and aim to sustenance, not to profit maximization), which are often ignored or dismissed as not relevant or primitive, since they not serve the capitalist profit maximization’s logic. Shiva strongly advocates for a return to the feminine principles of ecology as a sustainable development paradigm and a sustainable way of life as the only possible way to preserve our planet, restore the renewable power of nature, reduce social inequalities and end violence.

If you want to know more, watch the documentary movie on Vandana Shiva’s life.  

What do you think of Shiva’s definition of development? Which are the main actors popping up on your social media if you search for the hashtag #development? Which other thought-provoking thinkers on development do you suggest are worth knowing for our blog readers? Share your tips in the comments below!