Page 7


A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. 9ntertnediate tech For too long we have engaged in the purely economic discussion of what kind of economic system is best; such as, utopian, capitalism or socialism. It comes to ‘my mind that there has never been a society in which we didn’t countin the Indian culture it might have been the number of scalps, in the socialist society it might have been the status of being a bureaucrat, a manager, etc., or in a capitalistic society where we count with money. I suspect that the economic system isn’t nearly as important as the built-in apparatuses within the institutions to prevent the accumulation of power. I think Mr. Schumacher’s approach accomplishes that end. Bernard Rapoport c i. cchumacher One of my activities sails under the name of intermediate technology. It began nearly twenty years ago, when, for the first time, I got a short-term assignment to advise the Prime Minister of Burma on his country’s development policies. What I saw in Burma I did not like. Burma was running itself into the ground trying to modernize in a hurry, primarily on the basis of the rich man’s technology. At the time I could not think my way through it, but just felt that unless Burma remained Burma, it was going to become a nothin,gness. With the exception of some mainly immigrant Indians in Rangoon, the people in Burma were very well fed, beautifully dressed, living in delightful houses built precisely to suit the climate, and appeared to be the jolliest people one could ever meet. Something did not fit. It was not until a few years later when the Prime Minister of India asked me to come to India and consult with him on the rural areas, and only after I had traveled the whole of the country, that something clicked in my mind; namely, that for developing countries there is, on the one hand, a very low level of technology which does not keep people going except in relative misery, and, on the other, the rich man’s high-level technology which is outside their reach. Of course, high-level technology can be implemented at this or that point in developing countries, but the points tend to be the big cities. That Mr. Schumacher is a British economist and author of the book Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. This article, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in The Center Magazine, published by The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Box 4546, Santa Barbara, California. technology cannot eradicate the three-fold disease of mass migration into cities, followed by mass unemployment, and finally the threat or actuality of mass hunger, because, in the end, food is produced not on balconies in the cities but in the vast rural areas. In India, development efforts were bypassing the rural area, where eighty-five per cent of the people live, thus exacerbating this three ‘fold disease, making the problems larger and most unmanageable. Between low-level technology and high-level technology, there is a great vacuum which must be filled with what I have called intermediate technology. But I received a very bad reception when I. got back to Delhi and talked about intermediate technology. I was accused of being an imperialist, a fascist, a racist, a beast who had come to India to keep the country down and to withholdas if I could withhold anythingthe glories of modern technOlogy. I got angry and said, “Well, bye-bye.” If you ask the doctor to come, and he gives you good advice, and you abuse the doctor, the doctor leaves. Still, you never know what will happen. Fifteen months later, there was an all-India conference on intermediate technology, and a leading Indian economist said, “This is what we must attend to.” So, for a number of years I have been talking and thinking and lecturing about intermediate technology. Then comes the awful momentwith some people the moment never comeswhen you ask yourself, or your friends say, “Are we only talkers or are we doers?” But what can one do? Talking and giving lectures is not illegitimate, but if one wants to do something one sets up an organization. We set up an organization, and we called it the Intermediate Technology Development , Group, Limited. It’s still very limited. I happened to have earned an inordinately high fee from an article published in The Observer. I used that hundred pounds -,40iiimum mama wommi