Development is Not Merely About Numbers?

This blog is committed to give platform for people to express their ideas about development. Amidst her packed schedule to compose proposal for social project and recover from jetlag after long hours from Norway, Putri has been very generous to spare some of her time for a short interview.


Hello! Thank you for sparing your time for this interview. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Hi! My name is Lidwina Putri and I’m currently in my final year in International Relations in Universitas Indonesia. My field focus in IR is transnational studies and I have special interest in issues such as migration and also human rights.


So Putri, I’m writing a blog about development. According to you, what is development?

Hmmm when I think about development, I remember the concept of human development by Amartya Sen. From my interpretation of that, I think of development as freedom of people to choose and maximize their potentials and do things that can make them prosperous. Maximizing their potentials and prosperity have something to do with economy political situation in where they live in. So I think that it connects with how government manages the economic situation.


Talking about choices, would you give me some examples of choices that people need to have?

I think the choices like to choose what kind of education that you want and need, what kind of work that you can do, and what kind of participation in politics that you can do.

baduy kids

Baduy people living in Banten, Indonesia

The next question is how do you think we can achieve your version of development?

Individually, we have to be aware what our rights are; what things that we can have and the things that we don’t have. Government has the responsibility to govern people and manage political and economic system in the country that will most likely able to benefit a lot of people. I think that it’s important to have social justice perspective so that people can have equal opportunities. It’s also important for them to pay attention to the minorities and give more opportunities for them so that they can equal access as the others.


It’s very interesting that you have such conception about development. Why do you think we haven’t been able to achieve your version of development?

I think it’s because we have different starting points and opportunities. The government hasn’t been able to take care of those people who don’t have equal opportunities and who are not very lucky. For example in Indonesia, disparity is really high; we have people who are really really poor and we have people who are really really rich. We start in different starting point.


Let’s now imagine a hypothetical situation where you could choose one person to have a cup of tea or coffee to discuss about development, who would that be?

Well because I already told you that my concept of development is inspired by Amartya Sen, I would like to have a cup of tea with him. I know that he wrote books about the idea of justice and about identity and violence. I think that it would be connected to the whole concept of development that he has. Sen takes the notion of development to a more humanitarian approach.


Last question, if you were chosen to attend a meeting of world’s leaders discussing about development agenda, what would you say to them?

I would say “If you think that the most important thing in development is economic growth, I think you also need to pay attention on how the economic growth that you are trying to reach would be able to benefit a lot of people. If you are trying to make more money, then you have to help more people. It has to be for the sake of the welfare of the people instead of merely for numbers. It’d be great to pay attention to the people who are minorities and who are not very lucky.”


Putri’s perspective on development is one of examples on how the old “development equals to economic growth” has been challenged. Concepts like choices and equal opportunities for minorities may not always be quantifiable but does it disqualify them to constitute development? Think again!  -MD-


Putri has tried debating and MUN to be the ideal IR student, but she realized that she enjoys playing accordion in a folk group and singing in choir rather than debating or negotiating. She has special interests in topics such as human rights, migration, feminism, identity, peace, pop culture, and Harry Potter.


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