Development - messy and complicated

Danielle AdourianLSE


I was living in Paris when the COP21 talks were happening. This was before I knew about the Tata Social Internship scheme, and definitely before I could imagine I’d be given the opportunity to work in the field of sustainable development myself. The outcomes of the COP21 talks really piqued my interest in the current challenges facing developing nations. On the one hand a billion dollars had been pledged to help developing nations invest in sustainable technologies, on the other hand however it became starkly clear that these same nations were expected to develop with far more constraints than their already developed counterparts had faced. While sustainability and development don’t necessarily go hand in hand, it seemed that this would increasingly have to be the case in future years. This burgeoning relationship is one that I was extremely keen to explore and become involved in, meaning that when I finally came across the Tata Social Internship scheme I immediately flung open my laptop, entered all devices in airplane mode, and wrote up my application in one quick, coffee-fueled sweep.

The opportunity to work in India in particular excited me greatly. India is quite a unique case as far as development is concerned, seemingly skipping the industrialization phase and cutting straight through to the services sector. Having read about all that Indian development entailed and aspired to I was extremely keen to experience it myself, on the ground, with a company like Tata; one of the key drivers of development in the Indian economic landscape. I am currently writing this essay from Babrala, a predominantly rural area in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Being here for two weeks has definitely helped me understand more intimately the goals and aspirations of the Indian public. Working with Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD), I have had the chance to tour and explore all the development programs they are currently running. These have ranged in nature from animal husbandry to health camps to self-help groups, with one goal in common; to empower and equip people with the tools necessary to lift themselves from poverty. Being here has transformed my conception of development from an abstract idea found within books and academic debate, envisioned through statistics and GDP’s, into a real, living, breathing, messy and complicated effort where the development aspirations of India as a nation is one and the same as those of the Indian people I have met working in the fields of Babrala, Uttar Pradesh.