In this lecture, the author makes connections between the concepts of certainty and uncertainty and draws parallels between these and the scientific or the positivist approach and the phenomenalist approach. The author argues that the excessive emphasis on certainty, which is an inherent assumption of the scientific approach embraces reductionism, compartmentalisation and has been the principle underlying all disciplines such as developmental economics.
This perspective has traditionally viewed nature as a commodity and the natural resources as gifts from nature that can be utilised incessantly without taking into consideration their interdependence or relation or connectedness with each other. This approach has dominated all our developmental policies for years leading to a significant degradation of our natural resources.
The author argues that there is a need to look at nature as a dynamic process and our entire approach needs to shift from an attempt to control nature towards a creative weaving of our interventions into the flows and dynamics of the natural processes. There is a need to recognise the unity and integrity of all natural cycles and thus adopt a holistic approach in devising all development related strategies. In addition to this, all the interventions need to be location specific reflecting on every element of social, cultural and physical diversity. Social mobilisation of the weak and voiceless should be an essential part of any intervention.
This lecture was organised as part of the Dr. Malcolm Adiseshaiah Centenary Celebrations in 2009-10, by the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), on the occasion of the centenary of its founder, Dr. Malcolm Adiseshaiah.