Having been in the development sector for more than 3 decades, I thought that I had heard all the jargon that goes with the sector. I was in for a rude awakening a few days ago and was convinced that there was so much of the lingo that I was yet to learn and understand. I was sitting in the Hubbali airport waiting for my flight to Bengaluru to begin boarding and heard very loud and excited voices from the seats behind me. Turning around I found several young men & women in their late twenties and early thirties engaged in very animated conversations. The conversations were so loud that one didn’t have to strain to hear what was spoken about. What also kept me glued to the conversation was the generous use of the word ‘development’and ‘dialogue’. It was evident from their conversations that these people were just returning from an event in Hubbali where several social initiatives were showcased to potential investors. While all of them represented some ‘angel fund’ or the other, what was interesting was the vocabulary and the new thinking that they were all collectively subscribing to. While one mentioned that the ROI of a project that he heard out was not encouraging enough, another mentioned that his promoters were interested mainly in projects related to digital inclusion and agriculture as these were the areas they saw clear returns in. While people like me were still thinking of food security, water & sanitation and universal health coverage, here were these young people talking about how one could monetize health & education projects. The casualness of their approach, their brazen and candid expression of profitability & project viability in terms of financial returns and search for projects that had the potential to maximize returns in relatively short periods of time was not just new to me but sounded outright demeaning. It seemed as though they were only interested in the ‘business’ part of human development and sounded critical of social change and rural transformation. Business to them was surely at the bottom of the pyramid. Hearing them made me feel fossilized and ancient. It was as though I had lost touch with this new world that was being shaped by the millennial’s in a rush. This left me wondering if the world of social development had changed because of corporate philanthropy and angel investors? Is this something one can expect to happen naturally when ideological aspirations get replaced by so called ‘professionalism’? After listening to them, I felt that I rather be old fashioned and be who I am than get caught in the ‘business of development’…


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