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Vision 2020 the problem not the solution

Published: 
Sunday, March 27, 2016

It is not adequate to say that our nation today is in a ‘crisis’, a term made all too popular in recent times by many a social commentator. It is without a doubt that there has been a strong narrative of progressive degeneration, however, it was made only more visible given the shattering—as I like to call it—of the oil veil, the resource that kept the politicians, since our birth as a nation in 1962, in a relative bubble. With its popping and the all-round decline in economic conditions, money can no longer be thrown at issues as was the tradition in past times as the nightmare of facing them head on becomes a reality.

Current issues such as ineffective crime policy, the dependency and victim mentality it creates from specialised treatment to certain areas, underachievement and violence in schools, and dysfunctional economic policies that continue dependency and unbalanced growth rather than stable development, is uncovered. Central to this is Vision 2020, a model, project and deadline that has become part of the problem not the solution. 

Aside from not meeting most of the measures outlined, it relies on ignoring a vast amount of areas that sees the economic given emphasis over the social and profit over people. This development path: goals, initiatives and means, are taken directly from developed nations and applied in a hard and fast context to our realities. That mass consumption societies, high rise buildings and multimillion-dollar infrastructures represent the be all-end all in societal perfection. But just why does development entail such a narrow scope? Why must the societal ideal resemble the conditions of our former colonisers? Why does this vision resemble an American reality and consciousness only for a Trinbagonian landscape? Why are alternative paths often ignored or even considered in the development project?

It is not that this vision as problem in itself but because it paraded as an ‘ultimate destiny’, that any criticism or move away from this framework means one is irrational or impractical. That in our bid to adopt a development pattern that was created in a particular time, place and certain conditions mean we actively ignore our own reality, history and consciousness. 

The hard and fast means by which it is employed in policy and initiatives usually accounts for it resounding failure for any meaningful ‘development’ to take place. That failing crime, education and economic policy is only further exacerbated by a faulty understanding that leads to irrelevant solutions. 

A lack of historical understanding of the ‘weight of history’, to know that the problems we face today are not recent but come from the larger colonial legacy that sixty something years of independence has yet to address. Until we understand that this scheme is not neutral and objective but authored by a particular group, which given our history and current conditions does not permit at least to the degree aspired, a viable goal. 

That though we should take note of certain concepts, the wholesale adoption of strategies is to our own detriment. That our development plans should be at the intersection of social, economic, cultural and historical variables rooted in out local consciousness and not some foreign one should be the true goal.

Regretfully however, because of the ignorance and indifference of our history (colonialism merely viewed as a ‘period’ in time) and the conditioning and desensitising of Western media that sees us adopt norms, values and behaviours that give credence to this single ‘Vision’, the myth from a distant society continues to limit, distort and blind us to any meaningful alternatives, all the while we march on unquestioningly in hopes of gaining First World status while engulfed in Third world problems.

ROMON ATWELL

Student, Sociology Major 

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