The origin of the term ‘Political Development’ can be traced to 1950’s when a large number of American political scientists were attempting to study the political dynamics of the newly emerging countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Huge amounts of statistical and quantitative data on the social, political, economic and demographic aspects of these nations were collected to analyze their attitudes, values and behaviour patterns.
However, the term is still in the process of evolution and there is hardly any unanimity among the scholars on the constituent of political development. Such inconsistency is partly on account of inter-disciplinary focus and partly a manifestation of ethnocentric bases.
1. Daniel Learner in his “The Passing of the Traditional Societies, Modernization of the Middle east” equates political development with political modernization.
W. W. Rustow treated political development as a typical phenomenon of the industrial society. He was of the opinion that the industrial societies are the patterns setters of political development for other societies.
Edward Shils treated political development as nation state building. S.P. Verma has listed five categories of Shils stages of political development: L Political Democracy
2. Tutelary Democracy
3. Modernizing Oligarchy
4. Totalitarian Oligarchy
5. Traditional Oligarchy
Kenneth Organski saw political development in terms of:
Firstly, Political unification.
Thirdly, National Welfare.
Fourthly, Abundance (material affluence).
According to S.P. Verma “the greatest drawback of these studies was that they treated political development as a dependent variable, generated by something else, a worldwide wave of modernization, nationalism or democracy, and not as an independent or intervening variable which in its own turn could shape things”. Hence forth, political scientist sought to devise alternative meaning of development political.
Gabriel Almond defined political development as “the increased differentiation and specialization of political structures and the increased secularization of political culture”. Effectiveness, efficiency and capability were seen as benchmark of political development, referred by Coloman as “Development Syndrome”.
Lucian W. Pye, one of the outstanding experts on political development identified three levels, viz., population, government performance and organization of the polity; where political development could be observed. According to him, there are three essential attributes of political development.
Firstly, Equality: which signifies,
-mass participation -universal laws
-recruitment on the basis of merit rather than a scripture criterions.
Secondly, Capacity: which signifies
-governmental performance -efficiency and effectiveness -secular orientation Thirdly, Differentiation: which meant
-diffusion and specialization of structures -division of labour -specialization based on integration
S.P. Huntington sought to evacuate parasitic world of political development. According to S.P. Verma, “his criteria for political development were institutionalization of political organizations and procedures”. He highlighted that political development is not a unidimensional phenomenon. Rather, the institution decay and dissolve and grow mature.
F.W. Riggs gave the concept of development trap. His contention is that there should be balance between equality and capacity. An emphasis on the one will lead to neglect of another and get into ‘development trap’. Criticism
1. There is no unanimity among scholars on the meaning, content and nature of political development.
2. There is a tendency to see political development in parasitic terms, as something dependent on other variables.
3. There is ethnocentric bias in much of the literature on political development. Political development is identified with political modernization and modernization is taken to mean westernization, by most scholars.
4. They fail to after a sound model for analyzing political process in developing countries.
5. It was a historical view in the sense that it role promoted anti-communist, pro-American political stability as Robert Packehham has pointed out.
6. S.P. Verma accuses the western theorists of emphasizing order and stability at the cost of more general shared view on liberty or other value.
7. Most of the theories fail to articulate a integrated view of political development. As S.P. Verma has pointed out, “economic growth and political stability are not aims in themselves but means to something else”.
Evaluation of Debate on Political Development:
Much of the debate on political development fails to arrive at conclusion due to (a) Unidirectional approach (b) different variables and (c) value preferences of the theorists. There is complete neglect of a country’s history and its various political traditions.
It has following implications: Firstly, they fail to see that development and underdevelopment are the two sides of the same coin. As S.P. Verma observes “It is this over-development on the part of one- third of the world (within which also large masses continue to live under conditions of under development) which is responsible, by and large. For the under development of the so called developing world.
The situation can be resolved only if the third world countries decide to take a line of development better suited to their history, culture and genius as well as to fast changing international environment. Consequently, the concept of political development needs to be intertwined with the problems of economic backwardness and dependency.
Secondly, the concept of political development needs to be evaluated in terms of the existing political orientation and larger objective of two political systems. It must not be something imposed from above. Only significant western ideals should be emphasised in this context. Moreover, these ideals have to be integrated with the socio-economic realities of the developing countries.
Thirdly, the stability of political system, though significant aspect cannot become the end in itself. The prospect of political system is severely paralyzed if it continues to suffer breakdown. Such problems are more pronounced in developing countries. Such problems can be better addressed; its national viability becomes an important variable of political development.
According to S.P. Verma “A viable national system…. mean the existence in the nation state of a society in which the various groups are, more or less, congruent, in the sense that there is harmonious elite-sub-elite-mass relationship and the political elites drawing their moral and material sustenance from the society are able to use the human and natural resources available to them in an effective manner”. Thus, the aspects of nation building as an ethical objective must take along the task of state building.