Why poor countries never develop?

Here is a insightful piece by my friend Chandra Maharzan on why poor /developing countries are not developing and what is wrong with all the help that is being given to us. He questions the way we think about the “aid industry”.

Chandra writes:

Why poor countries never develop?

I think I just found an answer to that.

This doesn’t necessarily agree with your opinion though. Its all my personal view.

The simple logic is – If I find a 1000 rupee note on the street (oh lucky me), I am sure I will misuse it either by drinking or by giving a party to friends or just misplace it. But if it takes me a full day to get that thousand rupee note, I am sure I am going to think what I need to spend that on. You just become ‘wise’ with that money.

There is a beggar, no matter how much money you give its just no sufficient for him. Well, money is never sufficient to anyone, is it? He will always live a beggar life. I am sure some beggar earn more than those hardworking coolies.

I have lived a ‘poor’ life. Not a rupee to spend on ‘extra’ things. I cried when I couldn’t have Rs 500 to take some music lesson when I was 16. The good thing about living poor is you learn how important money is and when you make some money, you spend it wisely. You become virtually rich. Storing bit by bit and then when you want to get something, you have it in store. You become wiser.

Watching Discovery Channel most of the time, I have come to know why Europeans developed their brain so fast so sophisticated than people who lived near the equator such as Africa or South East Asia / South Asia. That was because, people near the equator lived rich. There was no scarcity of food, water, cold, etc. Whereas in Europe, they lived in poverty. Snow covered most of the time, cold, hunger, less food. In other words, when they lived in this environment, they learnt how to ‘save’, adapt and how to best live their lives that way. They were thinking all the time. Their brains developed as time passed and they were wiser as time went on.

So, the basic thing is when you live in poverty (that is real poverty), you know how to become rich.

In developing countries, there are millions / billions of dollars that come in in the name of helping the poor or eradicating poverty (aid). It might be good intention or bad I won’t comment on that. But the thing is, there is someone who is helping those people. So, there is no real poverty here. And when you have someone there, you never learn to live by yourself. You always live in Poverty and you become Greedy. You always look for someone to help (you). When you see your friend getting help, then you also join him…

And it just grows…

here is a thought: How about risking it all and leaving us on our own, for once ? let us become ‘truely” poor so that we can start learning how to become prosperous. With your ‘aid’, we prolly won’t try.

what do you think ?

Comments

  1. Great view, shuvachintak. thanks for posting.rnYes China is building the railroads which can be seen as a great connectorrnbetween 2 huge economies.If we can connect these 2 :)

  2. I am blatantly speculating, but I don’t think evolution alone answers the question. I think that philosophically Asians have always inclined towards spirituality. You only have to look at Hinduism. It has an effect on the sub-conscious level that translates in the stark contrast our thinking has to those of the “westerners”. Also, I have always thought that Asians have a higher average IQ (if adjusted for the illiteracy). nnOn the topic of aid: you are right to point out the damage free money has created in the Nepali market. Maybe a low interest loan aid would work better? It seems like you are a proponent for free market. However, free market needs intervention as exhibited by the recent global economic crisis. nnMaybe the rise of China and India will have a positive impact on the region as a whole. I read an article on the economist about a planned railroad connecting two major Tibetan cities. The article also pointed out that China plans to extend the service to Nepal; maybe even to India. That would revolutionize Nepali businesses.

  3. yep and more “entrepreneurial” aid :) . we need to get social entrepreneurs on the fore-front of aid.

  4. Yes boycott bad aid, and accept aid which i believe is “entrepreneurial” in nature is a way to go.. of course, how do you clean it is the real challenge isn’t it, Nirjan ! nnKeep writing.. great points to bring us passionate ones together to positively change Nepal..

  5. UJ dai. I think the argument here is too simplified to explain why poor countries never develop. While I understand where your friend is coming from (however, the premise of his analogies are not at all convincing) , simply placing the blame on aid does nothing to explain other variables that affect ‘development’. The current model of the aid industry perhaps (i say perhaps because I haven’t seen actual research on this) does make poor countries dependent on aid, but the remedy, at least the way I see it, is surely not boycotting aid. Instead, we need to change the culture of aid (e.g. not using aid as a tool for political influence, longer-term impact-oriented projects, etc) and a discussion as you have here is perhaps a good way to initiate a conversation .

  6. How about the Nepali people who have been living in the hilly/mountainous region? A majority of them have always lived hard (labor intensive) lives; resources are always scarce and the terrain is brutal….nI agree with the writers point that getting funds when begged for makes us a lazy and an uncreative nation. However, I believe that there are some other major contributing factors that hinder our development; older civilizations carry a burden of “traditionalism”. As much as our rich culture and tradition is a blessing and helps us unite as a country, we as a people have to realize that these same traditions can impose on our development and limit our scope of thinking. Just to name a few examples-blind respect of elders (elders are people just like us and are suseptible to common human flaws like greed); nepotism with almost no regard for merit and scholarship; unable to disagree with each other respectfully, leading us into literal distruction and thwarting any efforts to real progress. The list of problems seems limitless at this point…..however, i believe that the power of positive reporting will provide some much needed inspiration to thrust the younger generation into positive action. nRecently, I have been following a young American High school graduate and her endeavors in Nepalgunj. What impresses me is her focus on utilizing local talent, local resources and creating jobs locally; all the while uplifting a community (by educating the youth).nAs a starting point- we need to kick the beggers to the curb!!nSet out our priorities…I think this should be done on a grassroots level; no so much national level. Just think of the possibilities- the parts of the country that would thrive from tourism entrepreneurship; parts that would thrive on agriculture; parts that would thrive on water resources…we are a resource rich country; we just fail to realize our riches. Once communities realize their economic strengths, they are bound to take pride what is theirs and we will almost be home free!nThis forum to bring out ideas is awesome; how about some type of forum for action as well? Maybe our youth can volunteer, or even learn to hold minimum wage type jobs while pushing forward development; even as an NRN myself, I would love to be able to volunteer my time in some way from afar, or when I am visiting Nepal.

  7. I agree to his opinion. Let’s risk it to leave this mentality of just spending/taking money without asking for/giving service in return, without a valuable consideration! nThough I’m not involved in the development “industry” here in Germany – I thought about it and read also from the economist Dambisa Moyo. http://www.dambisamoyo.com/deadaid.html nI see some of my european friends here, who work in the Development sector – They’re also having a pretty rich life, travelling a lot, bringing all their western “knowledge” to the so called poor countries. But it’s often rubbish and doesn’t fit. After all, I guess, it’s just keeping the power of the rich. On both sides, as in Europe, USA or in Nepal or anywhere in the world: It’s about respecting peoples’ skills, work, products, ideas and about sharing possibilities, products, services for fair prices.

  8. thought provoking article. should share this in our networks and beyond for people to see.

  9. agree, stop getting such ‘aid’ as ‘poverty alleviation, employment generation’ etc..nwe may need technical/scientific knowledge ‘aid’ (or more correctly exchange programmes)

  10. agree, Shraddha! I feel youths with common sense, have to be more active in leadership… Time is ripe for that. (to change this status quo)

  11. agree, Shraddha! I feel youths with common sense, have to be more active in leadership… Time is ripe for that. (to change this status quo)

  12. Hmm…not bad…lets all try it for some years…How about not accepting any foreign aids?? I bet there won’t be much difference because all the mercenary aids that have been granted to Nepal till the date must have been under-utilized..perhaps only to the extent of 20% or less??

    So you see, by doing so, the poor ones will remain unaffected for they were always poor…this shall only hamper the purchasing power of those(beggars) who work to represent Nepal in the International front for funds(in other words, alms) :P

  13. Hmm…not bad…lets all try it for some years…How about not accepting any foreign aids?? I bet there won’t be much difference because all the mercenary aids that have been granted to Nepal till the date must have been under-utilized..perhaps only to the extent of 20% or less??r nSo you see, by doing so, the poor ones will remain unaffected for they were always poor…this shall only hamper the purchasing power of those(beggars) who work to represent Nepal in the International front for funds(in other words, alms) :P