Development economics is about soft, gentle, humane and wise economic policy that emphasizes the importance of social by placing the well-being of humans at center-stage of economic policy. It is and must be seen as both the goal and the means for development, not simply a side-effect. By linking the economic progress and development with the political freedoms enjoyed by the people, this brand of economics suggests that political freedoms are, and truly so, subservient to the economic well-being of the population. Indeed the very concept that ‘freedom promotes development’ is a pleasant depart from the conventional wisdom that prioritizes economic growth over political enfranchisement.
Development should be seen as a process of expanding freedoms. “If freedom is what development advances, then there is a major argument for concentrating on that overarching objective, rather than on some particular means, or some chosen list of instruments”. To achieve development, therefore requires the removal of poverty, tyranny, lack of economic opportunities, social deprivation, neglect of public services, and the ‘machinery of repression’.
Unfortunately even when the “freedom” has been much-publicized slogan in Kashmir during past three decades now, not even those selling their political merchandize in its wraps have ever bothered to talk about poverty, social and economic opportunities or the issues of public services and utilities. Instead everything has been made secondary to the politics so much so that even the economic hardships of day-to-day life fail to evoke a stir anywhere. Unfortunately here again, both separatists as well as mainstream politicians cut a very sorry figure as neither of the two have displayed any understanding of, and sincerity toward peoples’ welfare. Understandably, ‘freedom’ has been relegated to a hollow slogan meant for political rhetoric only.
When mainstream political leaders talk about freedom, with it what they mean is their own political and economic enfranchisement and that of their kith and kin. They have never ever been concerned about the political or economic freedoms of the common masses, perhaps for the sheer fear of their own freedoms getting disturbed in case of ordinary mortals also get to enjoy some measure of various freedoms. Similarly when separatists talk of freedom, they end up confining the word within a very narrow political meaning. Their minds have been programmed to look at freedom like that only. And, they are yet to evolve with the courage and acumen to think about widening their mental horizons so as to be able to look at freedom beyond the pair of quotes their mindsets have been bracketed into. Obviously in such a situation, poor ‘freedom’ remains a highly abused but emotive term – much like the people of Kashmir who have been and are being abused with it and its subjective meanings.