8. Articles 14, 15 (1), 15 (2), 16(1), 16(2), and 29 (2) of the Indian Constitution guarantee equality before the law, and no discrimination against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them in matters of employment and appointment in any office under the state or admission in educational institutions recognized by the state. Article 17 outlaws the practice of untouchability in any form, and Article 18 abolishes titles other than the military or academic distinctions. These Articles uphold the principle of egalitarian society and serve as instruments to order the society wherein people live as responsible subjects of the society according to the convictions of their conscience or religious faith.
9. Similarly, after declaring India a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic, the Constitution’s Preamble affirms securing of certain basic political goods to all its citizens. Among them, pride of place is given to providing social, economic and political justice for all, especially keeping in view the benefit of the weaker sections of society. To achieve this goal, the framers of the Constitution have incorporated a number of provisions as Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution. The positive and constructive content of political freedom must be the creation of an inclusive society informed by the principles of welfare state as spelt out in Part IV of the Constitution. In several instances, the Supreme Court reiterated that these Directive Principles were to fix certain social and economic goals and their immediate attainment by means of non-violent social revolution, so as to change the structure of the Indian society into a more humane and progressive one.
10. However, these ideals enshrined in our Constitution are being conveniently left behind to embrace the dictates of neo-capitalism that is ruling the world today. Under its impact, countries of the world are divided as rich and poor, developed and developing, advanced and backward, south and north, first and third worlds, etc. International institutions such as UN, IMF, WB, and WTO which were founded to heal the wounds of division, have, in the long run, deepened the divide. Countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India, the former colonies of European countries, which are characterised by extensive poverty depend heavily on the technological and financial resources of the rich countries.
11. The road to development has taken different models over the centuries. The western model of industrialisation and modernisation has led to market-based economic growth, but a one-sided growth at that. As a result of this one-sided growth, 5.5 billion people (80% of the global population today) who live in developing countries own only 20 % of the global GNP, while the rest 20% own 80% of the GNP. In India, 10% own 40% of the wealth, 20% own 30%, 40% own 20%, and the bottom 30% own just 10%. It is a scandalously skewed trajectory of exclusionary economic growth, which goes with the ideology of neo-liberalism, whose ‘trickle down’ theory is a gross failure.
12. It causes a culture of violence, which is nothing but a culture of death. The consumerist goods produced in massive scale causing an abysmal depletion of natural resources is an indication of the culture of death promoted by the neo-capitalist economy. It induces a spiral of violence starting with the violence inherent in the capitalist system, which triggers the violent resistance of the victims, which in turn is repressed violently by the states, supported often by MNCs.
13. An alternative vision of development is very much the need of the hour today. Amartya Sen speaks of development as freedom, wherein growth generates resources with which public and private efforts can be systematically mobilized to expand education, health care, nutrition, security of life and other essential needs which lead to fuller and freer life for all. Development means liberation – liberation from pain, misery, hunger, disease, violence, destruction, power politics and war. This is a liberation achieved not in confrontation but together with nature.
14. In the Indian context, several models of development have been projected over the decades of the post-Independent period. The colonial dispensation left a western-centred capitalist model of economic growth and development, which created a middle class in our country, but did not ensure an inclusive development. Mahatma Gandhi proposed the concept of sarvodaya, wherein the welfare of all was to be ensured by the participation of people in a panchayat-raj based development. However, it was in the hands of Nehru, the first Prime Minister, to embark upon a mixed model of development known as the Nehruvian socialist model, after the Soviet model of socialist development. The five year plans were supposed to produce a progressive development to all the people of India. Unfortunately, this model has not succeeded to produce an inclusive development yet. It was the Congress regime under the leadership of Narasimha Rao in early 1990s which made a Structural Adjustment Programme and introduced the neo-liberal policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. The subsequent governments have only followed up on these programmes and have caused a deep divide between the rich and the poor.
15. It is in this context, discourse on inclusive development obtains significance in India. Eleventh five year plan (2007-2013) of India speaks about the inclusive development in terms of 1) poverty reduction, ensuring an adequate flow of benefits to the poor and the marginalised; 2) group equality, as a consideration of the status of the group as a whole relative to the general population; 3) rectifying regional balance; 4) reduction of income inequality; 5) empowerment and participation in democracy; and 6) environmental sustainability
16. Inclusive growth basically means ‘broad based’, shared and pro-poor growth. It involves the people into the growth process of the country. It implies equitable allocations of resources with benefits distributed to every section of the society. It reduces the vulnerability of the most disadvantaged while benefitting everyone. It is about expanding the choices people have to lead lives that they value, and improving the conditions so that they can have the chance to lead full lives.
17. We speak of inclusive development in terms of affirmative action undertaken by the Govt. This action has indeed borne fruits and continues to serve its purpose, however weakened though it may be in today’s climate of privatisation of opportunities. However, it must also be noted that it creates more of vertical relationships, which must go with the formation of horizontal relationships characterised by an inclusive sociality nurtured by the ‘feel for the other,’ the expression of love. This inclusiveness is the intensity of sociality, an anchoring of relationality. Inclusive development in India should remedy the serious impairment of sociality caused by the evil of caste discrimination. The purity-pollution divide between caste groups keep reproducing itself in today’s society. The difficulty of sustaining inter-caste marriages is a case in point.
18. Women remain excluded from participation in the process of decision-making at various levels. The long-drawn struggle even to achieve 33% quota in spheres of political representation remains a distant dream. It is an affront to their dignity that patriarchy operates as a force not merely in domestic sphere, but also as a cultural habitus which prevents them from participation. That they continue to be excluded from various forms of church ministries is an anti-witness to the vision of the Reign of God.
19. People living with various forms and levels of physical challenges, known generally as disability, silently suffer psychological, social, cultural, political and economic exclusions. Their struggle for a positive self-identity, empowerment and full participation in society continues to be a matter of public apathy. They suffer also from inabilities to organise themselves at regional or national levels.
20. Inclusive development should value the epistemological systems of the periphery, the endogenous knowledge-systems of the indigenous communities. The Enlightenment paradigm of Eurocentric modernity rooted in the conquest of nature and the demonization of tribal / indigenous peoples’ spirituality is one of the major causes of crisis today. It visualizes a highly mechanized and industrialized society. The booming of economic progress, high-tech and throw away life-style is perceived as attainment of higher quality of life. ‘Growth’, especially material growth, is seen as the only principle for liberation. The material driven consumerist economic system and one-sided development pursuits have led to colonization of others and laid ideological justification for subjugation and exploitation of non-renewable earth’s resources in a massive scale. This dominant extractive growth model has become a threat to life in general, to indigenous people in particular.
21. The aspirations of the Tribal people for their identity, symbiotically linked to their aspiration for land should become an important component of inclusive development. The alienation of Tribal land, which occurs for reasons of setting up industries, advancement of technology, etc. which are the so-called markers of the western colonial model of development does not promote the real freedom of the indigenous people. Land is the source not merely for physical existence, but for the religion and ethics of the Tribal people. And therefore, development as freedom would be a struggle to resist the onslaught of the MNCs and the government to grab the land from the people.
22. Our educational system suffers from a lack of integral vision. Education should basically be a process of socialization into values, during the course of which students acquire skills for growth and development. Unfortunately, this integral vision is eclipsed at the cost of promotion of one-sided education which prepares students to compete for jobs. Even this form of education is not available to everyone equally, because people are excluded from it in terms of ethnicity, economic opportunity, gender, disability, region, etc. That even now only 9.97% of Indian youth reach to the level of higher education is a sad story of Indian educational system.
23. These multiple forms of exclusions appeal to our conscience. They demand of us actions, propelled by our faith. We need to generate a radically new culture of inclusive vision and development patterns. It will be nothing short of a cultural revolution for a new humanity, a revolution which must occur along with the economic revolution. This integrated cultural revolution is a vision which springs from Jesus’ vision of the Reigning of God, which embodies a new economics of salvation. A theological understanding of this new economics of inclusive development would go a long way in inspiring our Christian community into this transformative action.