Democracy and development: connecting “outcomes” with the “processes”

Baruah, Joydeep (2019). 'Democracy and Development: Connecting “Outcomes” with the “Processes”' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA 2019, London, UK.


One of the foundational requirements of democracy is the individual ‘freedom, and the capability approach considers development as enhancement of individual freedom. The two ideas i.e. democracy and development, thus, connected through the notion of ‘freedom’. The notion of ‘freedom’ embodied in capability, however,  has two connotations - (i) freedom from withini.e. individuals are to be freed from “internal limitations” due to  basic deprivations in terms of ill health, ignorance and poverty to exercise choices over given opportunities, and (ii) freedom from limitations imposed by “external” conditions in exercising their choices. The first i.e. the ‘opportunity aspect’ of freedom relates to the level of achievement, while the second relates to the ‘process aspect’ of freedom i.e. how the realised level of wellbeing is actually achieved.  Therefore, the normative framework of evaluation must examine, not only the achievements, but it should also carefully assess the “processes” by which the achievements have been realised. In the capability approach, the first type of achievement – achievement without taking note of the processes involved is usually called ‘culmination outcome’. The other type – achievements considered along with processes involved is formally called ‘comprehensive outcome’. The relation between these two aspects of freedom is of fundamental significance in capability approach. In this paper an idea of “subjective wellbeing” is proposed to denote the “valuation of processes”. It is subjective because it takes note of “qualitative” aspects of various processes involved including governance and service delivery which signifies the functional aspects of democracy. The valuations of various processes – social, political, ecological and personal – have been attempted by considering peoples’ level of “satisfaction” over them, where ‘satisfaction’ is taken to be reflective of the implicit preferences of people over the existing processes. If a person is unsatisfied in any aspect of the processes, it simply implies that the process under consideration is surely not of the kind that he or she would prefer and would, therefore, value. Through this paper it has been argued that in evaluation of development, both ‘achievements’ as well as the ‘processes of achievements’ are to be considered together because processes are invariably linked to some very important aspects of development such as inequality. The present paper, therefore, looks at how people “value the processes” and how such “valuations” are connected to the capability outcomes. The paper is based on the survey of 39998 households conducted for the Assam Human Development Report 2014. The paper attempts at a clear value addition by emphasising on ‘comprehensive outcomes’ within the capability framework. This emphasis on ‘comprehensive outcome’ enlarges the scope of analysis and also widens the perspective of the progress of wellbeing and development. This paper clearly intends to underline why processes are important in evaluating wellbeing, and hence, how democracy is intimately connected to development.

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