From the diverse countries around, why do some countries do very well and other seem to backslide? Why do some countries endowed with all the essential economic factors seem to fail or not do very well? For instance, how can one clarify repeated inability of the African nations even when it is observed that she receives aid in ample amount? Why do we have illustrations of countries like Philippines and Indonesia who equipped with a firm resource base are still seen to battle development? Many development economists explain these grave inequalities via a list of conditions that economies around the globe are expected to meet to ensure economic development. To begin with, good governance is seen to be the most crucial requirement for a sustained development. To add on, smooth administration and a crisp political system devoid of corruption and bureaucracy widen the scope for an economy to develop. Furthermore, enough business opportunities and adequate foreign investment become fuels for economic development.
However, apart from the above-mentioned factors, there is something which is of paramount importance and has received many confrontations from various economists around, i.e. Culture. Culture, until recently was always seen to be attached to social policies and not to Economics. However, such tendencies have observed deviations since the 1990s. Since then, an expanding impact of culture on an economy is seen. Culture is known for doing the groundwork needed to prepare for a life in the society. Culture, apart from preparing for this, also contributes to the development of social capital. Additionally, culture coupled with values is known to pave way for the economic development of a concerned country.
In present times, societies are becoming multi-cultural. In such multi-cultural societies, culture is seen to be a stimulator for dignity, personal development and self-contentment for minority groups. At the same time, it can also act as a link between different groups. For the very same reason, cultural expansion is considered as a valuable game plan to accelerate the process of urban prosperity. Present day economies are fast paced. Talking about India and other developing nations, they cannot have social structures that block their budding growth and development. Such societies have to work harder to move its residents forward by providing enough opportunities for utmost economic and community development. However, sometimes, cultural patterns do present barriers to these objectives.
India, as a home to plentiful persuasive religions, provides a lovely background to check the liaison between religious culture and economic behaviors. Prominent religions in India include Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Sikhism. According to the Hindu culture, the aspiration of life is to set oneself free from the vicious circle of cause and effect. To add on, the Varna or the caste system is responsible for constructing an individual’s values and beliefs. In olden times, an individual’s occupation regulated their caste. Such caste alliances are then known to pass from one generation to the other. Even though the caste system was constitutionally abolished in 1950, impressions of this system still prevail at a cultural level and it continues to influence occupational preference of a person and in turn, economic development.
Role of culture in shaping present-day economies cannot be ignored. Culture spawns assets like skills, language, interpretation, and insights that sculpt the economic and social well-being of a community. Culture and cultural activities clasped with morals and values shape economic development. Considering countries in East Asia, notably China, is seen to oppose Western folklore. It is the Asian beliefs and values which are primarily contributing to Chinese economic expansion over, say, Latin America. Also, when looked closely, China and Latin America do have overlapping cultural patterns. Withal, China has a more concerted society. Such a feature of collective society is associated to its Confucian clout. Confucianism thickly benefits China’s economic development as it gives importance to savings and gives high regards to education. Additionally, China shows a higher level of trust as compared to Latin America. This is mainly attributed to homogenous population and equal distribution of wealth.
Latin America, on the one hand is very diverse in terms of ethnicity, language, culture, historical background and economic prosperity. Despite that diversity, there are various factors which have contributed to lower economic development levels in Latin America. However, Brazil, Costa Rica and Chile have shown a decent progress towards human economic development but Latin America has a passive and a rotten bureaucratic arrangement impedes the scope of economic growth.
UNESCO has underlined that culture is a kingpin in combating poverty (UNESCO, 1995). It is time and again seen that the deprived have their values that are often all they have to affirm. Such deprived groups have their own values and culture. These values become the very basis of their existence which gives them their individuality. If these values are not appreciated, then, even the best productive suggestions can be congested. Therefore, conserving such cultural values is of paramount importance. Also, it is very important to incorporate data from culture into development economic analysis in an educated way. It is apparent that culture employs definite effects on developmental projects. Cultural alterations up to a certain extent also influence government trends to arrange foreign investments.
In a nutshell, culture cannot be ignored as it is closely connected to identity. Furthermore, culture helps in disclosing identity which is a fundamental requisite for human development. It sets up the basic framework in our personality and identity and in the ties which affixes us to societies and nation as a whole. Not to miss, culture also plays a vital role in developing policies that are thoughtful about the human rights. A free and vigorous cultural sector will, in turn, foster other values and codes in the society. All in all, a pivotal aspect of culture in any economy is to reduce poverty, making sustainable cities, safeguarding natural resources, providing access to safe drinking water and food and enhancing the flexibility of various communities in view of distinct disasters. Therefore, culture counts.