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The West claims to be ‘developed’ in relation to the ex-colonial world.
An entire field called ‘development studies’ pushed the narrative.
Much of the ex-colonial world buys that canard, even accepting the indecent nomenclature, for a long time, of being ‘third world’?
In what?
It’s the same old story.
History is writ by Conquerors, who then monopolise all dominant structures(although their demesne is waning a bit in current times).
The (Global) Media is theirs.
The (Global) Academy is theirs.
Global Finance is theirs.
As is Global military might.
That’s pretty persuasive!
But , far more than that, the ideology we all swim in is theirs.
I have called it EuroModernism, or EM.
EM is a materialist ideology, which uses materialist indices (like GDP) to measure all things.
So, naturellement, those that looted the world appear to lead the world in them.
But, what if we altered the parameters?
What if we used non-material criteria?
Anthropic Values, e.g.
Like non-violence, or pacifism, or conviviality, as important societal norms.
Let’s take just War as a proxy, per exemple.
Compare Bhutan and Nepal to the US and UK
Now, who is ‘developed’, and who is not?
So, it couldn’t be more blatant.
The EM West uses criteria that privilege it, period: and so basks in a self-acclaimed glory.
They suggested India was ‘Third World’ (I don’t mean in the neutral sense of being Non-Aligned: but, in the far more popular, and pejorative, sense of being a laggard nation , economically, technologically, etc) and convinced many(not least, in India).
So, the Civilisation that taught us to count simply (compare Indian numerals to Roman), invented the idea of Zero, that gave us insights in mathematics, philosophy , medicine, health, linguistics, language, and astronomy et. al.,, where the incomparable Taj Mahal still stands, much as the still rust-free Iron Pillar (2000+ Yrs later), or the Cave Paintings of Ajanta and Ellora, is to be viewed as requiring Western tutorials in ‘development‘?
A full 400 years ago, the region was more advanced,far more wealthy, more industrialised, and more accomplished (much Like China) than Europe: and so brought European Conquistadors swarming in like locusts (inspiring Columbus, the Pirate Chief , to set off on his grim misadventures trying to find his way there).
So, what happened?
The Brits happened, for 150+ years.
They, with customary efficiency, systematically despoiled , and de-industrialised , the region.
And then was that unfortunate land whittled down to its 20th century denomination (from which it is only now in recovery mode).
So, let’s have done with this ‘development’ bogey.
I’ll need to introduce a nouvelle term, to serve as correction.
Let’s abandon the Quantitatve fetishes of EM.
Civilisation has to do with Qualites..

Stated simply, Vedic civilisation is more evolved than the West, across the board.
Yes, the sub-continental cultures were/are far more evolved than the West, and this has little to do with material products.
So, the West has a lot of catching up to do.
Just one example, to make the point.
They still haven’t learnt to keep their hormones in check.
The US, e.g., has had only a dozen or so years, in its entire history, of not being at war.
I didn’t say it was at peace for those few years, mind.
Peace is far from merely being the absence of war.
And the West has gifted us 2 Global Conflagrations, and is now readying for a 3rd and Final one, leastways from the looks of it.
How’s that for adolescent, animal spirits?
Civilisation, au contraire, has to do with the pacification of human existence, not its endangerment.
I need hardly say more.
That was the import of Gandhi’s much cited comment that ‘it would be a good idea’, when asked what he thought of Western Civ!
The force of that comment hasn’t changed a whit, even now.
Western Civ?
It remains one of my favorite oxymorons, alongside Pax Brittanica and Pax Americana.
In sum , let the West keep ‘developing’, to its heart’s content.
I wish it all good things (!) in that enterprise.
Btw, for once they got the expression right: GDP is pretty gross.
And, in the meantime, the Other will simply continue to, yes, evolve.

Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda, A Day in the Life, and Expiations

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