Krier (2010) elaborates upon development of what we understand as modernity from the emergence of walled towns in medieval Europe and to Fordism as the peak of ‘high-modernism’ (quite characterised by Rostow’s Americanism). During the hegemony of modernist discourse, culture (in sense of word) either becomes ‘universal civilisation’ or something specifically limited to fine art (Williams, 1976). Again, according to Krier, development of modernity is quite linked to the development of capitalism.

Indian Development Planning, in its inception inherits the legacy of vision to make India into a modern nation (Nehru’s (1947) “A trust with destiny” would be a remarkable citation of the matter). These were globally as well the times of high modernism, characterised by Fordism in the United States. However the latter sees its demise along with the hegemony of modernism; development planning in India (and similar exercises in many developing countries) being a much late enterprise still embraces the ideals of modernity. Modernity embraces the idea, a utopia that what preceded us was worse (tradition), we are now enlightened (with reason) and what will follow would be great. Rostow’s high modernism would be a material extension to this analogy. Such analogy also characterises of important facets of kind of the social, for e.g., of the individual being an ‘autonomous individual’…

Being capitalist countries, and looking forward to industrialise, like the developed, the developing do not seem to have many choices than developing upon the substantial ideas from the ‘utopia’. What rather characterises the loss of faith in the modern in United States, is a dystopia on the contrary, a dystopia that we are marching towards destruction, a move to look for an authentic past (see neo-conservatism for e.g.). Many developing nations (and here would also be appropriate to include some of the major industrialising countries like China, Korea etc.) are in pursuit of high industrialisation right now, compared to significant deindustrialization in the global north (see Palma 2007), with huge influx of funds into them, I think, a dystopia would not be politically attractive in this relevance, despite our varying concerns of its human or ecological concerns. And specifically so in terms of the inherited legacy since the periods of high modernism, the legacy of being like the developed.

This brings into light and action a paradigm of policy measures, as harbinger of the modern. Variables like health, education, growth all need to be appropriately connected in appropriate ways, despite the kind of political economy (Krier for e.g. describes upon ‘social democracy’, ‘fascist totalitarianism’ and ‘neo-liberal capitalism’ as three modern systems of political economy). India’s adaptation to neo-liberalism and its relevance to development planning, as well seem to be connected together. Alhuwalia’s (2011) approach paper to XII five year plan, cites welfare concerns in terms of health, education, consumption inequalities and entire sections further devoted to growth concerns and overviewing the factors of production.

Growth and inclusive growth become central concerns and consumption (in)equalities pertinent indicators of equality. And in this, health, education, gender, infrastructure, environment etc. must hurl to hail the development paradigm (see also Saith, 2007 in this context)

The discourse of modernity has had varying interpretations of the word ‘culture’, from that of being “an abstract term to denote general processes of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development” following around the sophistications of Baugmarten and Kant to being something universal and to something just relevant to fine arts (adapted from Williams, 1976). What becomes significantly dumbed down has been the late anthropological challenge to viewing modernity and culture which attempts to be value-neutral compared to hegemony of values, modernity ascribes to. I would argue, that if post-modernity is a sequel to modernity, we don’t really have a sequel yet to capitalism. While post-modernity attempts to be value neutral, capitalism is certainly not. And market is still invaluable to negotiations in both the paradigms (and see Polanyi, 2010)


Alhuwalia, M. (2011, May 21). Prospects and policy challenges in the twelfth plan. Economic and Political Weekly. Retrieved from

Krier, D. (2010). 134 LAS-Sociology XW Distance Learning Fall 2011 (Modules 303, 304, 308, 313). Lectures retrieved from

Palma, G. (2007). HRSC EGDI Roundtable ’07: The Changing Character of Industrial Development: What Implications on Growth, Employment and Income Distribution. HRSC

Polanyi, K. (2010). The great transformation: The political and economic origins of our time. Boston, Mass: Beacon Press.

Saith, A. (2007) ‘Millenium Development Goals and the Dumbing-down of Development: Goals set for the Poor, Goalposts set by the Rich’, International Institute of Asian Studies Newsletter (45): pp.12-13

Williams, R. (1976). Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society. Taylor and Francis, 1976.