The term ‘development’ should be distinguished from ‘progress’. Progress is concerned with moral judgement applied on normative criteria. Development is a process in which a system or institution is transformed into stronger, more organised, more efficient and more effective form. It implies a conscious effort for the attainment of a specific goal. For J.H. Mittelman, it is ‘the increasing capacity to make rational use of natural and human resources for social ends.’
There are other definitions of development which try to compound all types of changes into one. Accordingly, it is a major social change from one state of national being to another more valued state. It involves a complex of mutually related economic, social and political changes. Economic factors are only one aspect of the total process. Changes are the result of both past history and current’ experience, and in turn provide the basis of further changes.
Scholars mix up development with growth: social and cultural change with economic growth. The former presenting qualitative and the latter quantitative changes. Riggs unnecessarily regards the two as distinct and separate. Development, according to him, is not merely quantitative. He refers to changes in the basic structural arrangements of a society and economy, not the degree to which these structures are productive or non-productive.
The term ‘growth’ can be used for a different variable from ‘development’. According to Esman, development denotes a major social transformation, a change in system-states, along with the continuum from peasant and pastoral to industrial organisation. The assimilation and institutionalisation of modern physical and social technology are crucial ingredients. The qualitative changes affect values, behaviour, social structure, economic organisation and political process.
Development, broadly, is a combination of both techno-economic and socio-political changes. Bendix explores it as:
(i) A change for better;
(ii) Never-ending process of change;
(iii) Gradual change;
(iv) A combination of qualitative and quantitative changes;
(v) Change in all spheres – political, social, economic, etc.; and
(vi) Not necessarily a copy of the ‘western’ countries.
Development takes place when an index of what is deemed desirable and relatively preferable, increases in magnitude. It is increasing the ability of a system to shape or reshape its environment: ability to make decisions.
According to Riggs, the central variable in ‘development’ is increasing differentiation of structures rather than any particular consequence of that differentiation, whether it be productivity, capital formation, income distribution, personal security, or some associated political, social, or administrative variables. He invents a technical term ‘differaction’ for development, which can be both negative and positive. Development is not a natural process. It is a planned and induced change. It is a change which is positive, all-round, balanced, qualitative, and contributes towards making the life of man.
Unplanned changes can also contribute to ‘development’. But in order to avoid waste of resources, particularly in developing societies, planned changes or induced development is always desirable. At this juncture, it can also be explained as a state of mind, a tendency, a direction. Without it, no change can be initiated or realised properly. All this, to political scientists, means modernisation, which is regarded as an antecedent to development. Still the two concepts or processes should be analysed in a specific manner, at least for analytical purposes.