Consider Gross National Happiness in policy formation, says Prof Singh at Essex workshop

Gross National Happiness should be considered in policy formation, said Professor Amita Singh of Jawaharlal Nehru University at the workshop on ‘Development and Change in India’ at the University of Essex on 27 September 2013.


Part of a collaboration between The Essex Sustainability Institute (ESI) of the University of Essex and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) New Delhi, this workshop explored how communities adapt and navigate the complex terrain of development-induced change with a focus on India.

A welcome and introduction by Professor Steffen Boehm (Director, ESI) was followed by two keynotes addresses by JNU academics. Delivering her keynote on ‘Assessing development through the Ecosystem Well-being Index (EWI),’ Professor Amita Singh (Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, JNU), emphasised the importance of considering a radical change in the way we perceive wellbeing and prosperity, stepping beyond GNP-based policy frameworks and exploring the potential of alternatives such as Gross National Happiness. She argued that ecosystem-based developmental planning is the only sustainable way for containing disruptive forces of implanted development and highlighted India’s disturbing trend of passing the poor’s food land to the rich for other uses..

Professor Sachidanand Sinha (Centre for the Study of Regional Development, JNU), in his keynote on ‘Development and Displacement of Land-based Communities: The tribal population of Central India,’ highlighted the massive land acquisition for development projects in the last two decades in India. His paper examined the magnitude of displacements of the agrarian communities in general and the tribes in particular, the processes of land acquisition of the forest-based communities in the central tribal belt (especially for mining) and the consequences on these communities’ livelihoods and survival. He also examined the question of alternative development paradigm, which may strengthen democratic processes and bring back the objectives of sustainable development with citizens at the centre of the development process.

The two keynotes were followed by five papers from the University of Essex:

  • Sanjay Lanka (Essex Business School): Challenges faced by small and marginal farmers in India –The role of government programmes
  • Professor Shazad Uddin (Essex Business School): Corporate Governance, Poverty Alleviation and Economic Development in South Asian Countries
  • Dr Natasha Ezrow (Department of Government): Economic Boom in India? Examining the Effects of State Corruption and Agricultural Neglect
  • Dr Stuart Bunting (School of Biological Sciences): Evaluating diversification and sustainable intensification as strategies to enhance agriculture-based livelihoods and conserve highland aquatic biodiversity in Buxa, West Bengal, India
  • Professor Colin Samson (Department of Sociology): The Colonial Inheritance of the Concept of Development: European and Non-European Societies

The event closed with a networking dinner.

Photographs by Asitha Jayawardena


Workshop page on the ESI website

Essex Sustainability Institute (ESI)

Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University


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