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

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Concept of Development and Hegemonic World Order

Erasing the Binary Distinction of Developed and Underdeveloped: A Comparative Study of the Emergence of the Large-scale Steel Industry in Imperial Russia, Imperial Britain, Imperial America, and Colonial India, 1880–1914 by Vinay Bahl, US: Shunya, 2019; pp 417, price not indicated.


The classification of developed and underdeveloped countries is primarily associated with the assessment of the economic condition of different countries in the world. The United Nations (UN) is among the leading organisations to formulate, use, and propagate these classifications. Reportedly, the UN (2021) uses these classifications for analytical purposes. However, these terms promote and solidify the hierarchical economic world order, which has political and social repercussions on the global platform. Nonetheless, for analytical purposes as well, the concept of development, particularly the “capitalism’s discourse on development,” is debatable. In the present context, development and underdevelopment are closely related to capital accumulation, regardless of its impact on other macroeconomic indicators. Under such “development,” one can witness that capitalism creates high growth rates at one end and aggravation of poverty and unemployment at another (Patnaik 2018). 

The theory of binary distinction of developed and underdeveloped nations emerges after World War II through the mainstream work of W W Rostow, namely Stages of Economic Growth. According to Rostow, the “take-off” of growth in Latin America, Asia, and Africa could be achieved by the diffusion of Western culture, capital, skill, and experiences of overcoming economic and cultural stagnation (Foster 2007). Such views not only justify the dominant views on “developed and underdeve­loped” but also defend imperialism. Paul Baran (1957) challenges such views, arguing that the Western world destroyed the earlier social formations and development of the so-called “underdeveloped countries” through imperialism. One famous example in this line of argument is the “drain of wealth” in British India (Patnaik and Patnaik 2017). The countries that are presently categorised as the “third world” accounted for 61% of the world’s industrial potential in 1830; by 1860, this declined to 37%, and by 1953, it had fallen to 6.5% (Foster 2007). The decline in the industrial potential of the “third-world” coincides with the rise of colonisation.

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Updated On : 1st Nov, 2021
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