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SP29 - Development: Towards ‘Oneness’ in thought and ‘Mindfulness’ in action

Convened by Saravanan Veluswami Subramanian (German Institute of Development and Sustainability)

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Development is a concept widely used across different spectrums of society. Development is considered necessary for the ‘other’ – the Global South and other communities (Escobar, 1995; Chari & Corbridge, 2008). Development was capitalized and turned into something more intentional than change alone. Over a period, the intention of development has changed in focus from material wealth, human development (UNDP, 1990), happiness index (Layard, 2006), and strengthening institutions (Easterly, 2006). Yet, development cooperation, and its political economy, over half a century, have made the rich richer and the poor poorer, consolidated neoliberalism while degrading the environment, and made the global south aid-dependent (Chari & Corbridge, 2008; Mosse, 2013; Ramalingam, 2013). In recent years, digitalization, pandemics, biodiversity loss, climate change, and globalization have been transforming the economies, simultaneously offering numerous challenges. We are witnessing multiple crises and multiple risks. The social construction of the development has created a dichotomous ‘mindset’ of superiority and inaccurate cultural perspectives that consider ‘others’ to be radically different and inferior (Said, 1978; Escobar, 1995).  It has proven that orientalism is alive, and the rhetoric is still with us in international relations (Nguyen, 2022; Sawafta, 2022). With these dichotomous world-views (I-You, We-They, Developed-Developing, North-South, Donor-Recipient, Democracy-Autocracy, Rich-Poor), development researchers are ill-equipped to attain human well-being, equality, and environmental sustainability. A paradigm shift is required in the development researchers' mindset, policy, and institutional developmental practices (Moose, 2013). A shift towards ‘oneness’ in thoughts and intentions, and ‘mindfulness’ in action, that accepts the socio-cultural and practical insights of other countries vis-à-vis development and critically examines how development is currently measured is the need of the hour. The Seed Panel brings together scholars from different disciplines, some of whom also offer mindfulness training, to strengthen the interdependency among researchers for human well-being and ecology.