Tuesday, December 12, 2006

'Planning' to 'Development Studies'

I will be hesitant to say that it has been a smooth transition from Bachelor of Planning (2002-06) at SPA New Delhi to MPhil in Development Studies at Oxford (2006-08). Although MPhil course suits all my aspirations that I wanted to pursue, yet I am finding a lot of difficulty in adaptation. The Bachelor of Planning programme provided me an opportunity to understand “Planning” of cities/towns in analytical and practical terms. The MPhil in Development Studies programme enquires about “Development” of societies from a critical viewpoint and explores the idea of development more in theory than in practice.

Being a planner, I had developed a perspective of solving the problems of cities/towns or taking necessary steps for betterment of cities/town in its physical sense-transport, housing, land-use etc. I have been taught almost every subject- ‘Applied Mathematics’ to ‘Geology’ to ‘Urban Management’ to ‘Planning Legislation’ -that could have any kind of relationship with planning apart from ‘Planning and Design Studio’ classes. But I never felt the integrity in approach towards application of such multidisciplinary framework. Also, the study focussed more on identifying the issues and methods to tackle those and very less on how these issues came about, how this has perpetuated and what are different views points. I don’t remember any issues that I found very exciting and intriguing as I never explored much in depth. It may be that I was not expected to do so at undergraduate level. The Bachelor of Planning programme made me jack of all trade (It is assumed that a planner should be like that only) but I felt otherwise. I learnt everything but nothing.

With such background, here I find myself struggling with the new approach of in-depth and comprehensive exploration of development issues. The basic mantra is ‘know only few things but it in real and integral sense’. I have taken two foundation courses namely ‘Economics’ and ‘Social Anthropology’ apart from compulsory ‘Research Methods classes’ and ‘Development Core course’. The strenuous workload and extensive reading lists has made my life hell, but I find the course approach-more holistic and integrated. This course so far has challenged my assumptions about development. It has forced me to perceive development issues (not problems) through incorporation and appreciation of contexts of social theory, economics, politics and development theory. Eventually, now I can construct, deconstruct and then rebuild my new understanding of the idea of development. I have freedom to do so. I know how differently I am feeling now.

Anyway, I believe that only a small phase of transition is over by now. I have struggled a lot to adjust to this transition. It has been only a term, still eight more term to go…… God knows, how much more is waiting for me. Oh God!!!! I cant stop worrying even in winter break!!!...

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