ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Labour of Sisyphus, Feast of the Barmecide-The Sentence and the Promise in Development Studies

The Sentence and the Promise in Development Studies T V Sathyamurthy IN the double metaphor that I have chosen for the title, I have attempted to capture the fate of a majority of people in the industrially less advanced countries during the last 50 years(as well as increasing numbers of people in the less unadvanced countries of the world). The myth of Sisyphus is a familiar one. My guess is that the story of the Barmecide is less well known, In Homer, the myth of Sisyphus constitutes a powerful evocation of endless punishment. The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock uphill to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that, in the words of Camus, there is no more dreadful punishment than "futile and hapless labour", wasted and unrewarding labour, I should like to add, The fabled feast of the Barmecide is described in an Arabian Nights story in which a wandering mendicant, famished and thirsty, was led into the presence of a Barmecide (a prince) presiding over a sumptuously furnished and well-provided desert equivalent of a palace. Having led the visitor to believe that he was about to be served an elaborate feast and choice wines, the Barmecide kept the victim engaged in endless conversation at the same time as keeping his appetite stoked by the delicious culinary smells and the gurgling sound of pouring bottles floating out of the adjacent room. Neither the feast nor the wines materialised, even though the guest was compelled to appreciate a virtual feast to the accompaniment of real gestures with the appropriate senses.

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