Saith - From universal values to MDGs - Lost in translation

Saith - From universal values to MDGs - Lost in translation...

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Focus From Universal Values to Millennium Development Goals: Lost in Translation Ashwani Saith ABSTRACT Are the Millennium Development Goals just a string of global wish lists? Are they simply a distraction or gimmick? This contribution argues that there is more to the enveloping global exercise of the MDGs than meets the eye. Despite its alarming and terminal weaknesses with regard to theory, method and scope, and notwithstanding its multitude of errors of commis- sion and omission, the MDG phenomenon carries the potential for distort- ing meaningful intellectual and research agendas, and could function as the catalyst and vehicle for a fundamental realignment of the political economy of development at the global level. The question is whether this realignment will be of a benign character that reflects the emancipatory aspirations so readily evoked in the Millennium Declaration. THE CONTEXT The Millennium Development Goals are here, there and everywhere. They envelop you in a cloud of soft words and good intentions and moral comfort; they are gentle, there is nothing conflictual in them; they are kind, they offer only good things to the deprived. They give well-meaning persons in the north-west a sense of solidarity and purpose; they provide a mechanical template of targets and monitoring indicators aptly suited to the limits of the bureaucratic mind; they form ready populist seasoning for politicians; and of course, they provide another gravy train for development consultants — and this one is scheduled to run for another decade, cover every country, and it has meals and targets galore for everyone. No wonder it is the juggernaut of all bandwagons. But is the bandwagon big enough to carry a billion poor persons? Who drives the bandwagon? Does it have an engine, or is it all band This contribution was first presented at a seminar at the Institute of Social Studies on 3 October 2005; a second version formed the basis of a Keynote Address to the Global Labour Forum, New Delhi, in December 2005. I am grateful for comments from participants in both events, especially from James Galbraith, Shobha Raghuram, Louk de la Rive Box, Alakh Sharma, Ben White and the referees of this journal. The excellent research support provided by Roy Huijsmans is gratefully acknowledged. Development and Change 37(6): 1167–1199 (2006). C ± Institute of Social Studies 2006. Published by Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main St., Malden, MA 02148, USA
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1168 Ashwani Saith and wagon? How is the price of the passage to be paid for? And if and when it does reach its destination of poverty reduction, into what sort of world will the poor alight off the wagon? What might be societal attributes of this brave new world? The United Nations Millennium Declaration was signed by leaders of 189
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course SIS 105 taught by Professor Chong during the Fall '07 term at American.

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Saith - From universal values to MDGs - Lost in translation...

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