For the scholar, development is a particular activity of society seen in certain periods. For the social being it is an ever-present, non-stop activity whose intensity varies with periods and circumstances. This is true of survival, growth, development and evolution. These are all the same activity at root with varying degrees of energy, intensity, organisation, result and aims. That is why we say that these four phenomena exist in each of them. Evolution can be termed as fast moving survival and survival is evolution at its slowest pace.

Development begins as a physical activity. The energy released by the physical is always the lowest and the conscious awareness of the being is also at the lowest in the physical and highest in the mind. The true centre of energy is vital. It is the vital that energizes the body as well as the mind. Still, the physical work releases the energy in low volumes. Mind, by lending its comprehension to the vital, is capable of energising it several-fold. As the development experience started with the physical and essentially remains in that plane, development is necessarily slow and unconscious.

Man, having started his life in the body and not in the mind, experiences work and life. Body is not conscious and is subconscious. It learns by doing. Learning succeeds doing. This is also so because existence and survival compel man to act and to do. He has to eat, drink and sleep. His act of eating over the centuries makes him learn how to gather food more efficiently. The compelling need of thirst sets him in quest of water. He cannot wait to learn about food and drink. Long practical experience leads to knowledge of the process. That is true till now. The cities man has built, the religion he soared to, the science he has discovered and all he has achieved today are achievements in experience, not experiences that issued out of knowledge.

A few thousand years of man’s existence which is studded with rich experiences have not led him to know the knowledge-basis of those experiences. Medical theory is of recent origin. No theory of history is yet born. Science is striving its best to found itself on a theory. As for social development, we do not have any indications of thinkers trying to evolve a theory. Hundreds of theories have been discovered and have gained social acceptance, but they are of partial phenomena, rather a particular phenomenon. There seems to be no theory or even an attempt at it.

As man starts his experiences in the physical plane and moves to the vital and mental planes later, a theory can emerge only when his activities reach the mental plane. They have not yet reached that elevated, exalted plane. What has happened is the physical plane is getting saturated with physical experiences. Saturation leads to maturity and maturity will lead to moving to the higher planes. A theory can only emerge when the experiences reach the mental plane.

The world’s developmental experience has not only saturated the physical plane in several countries but also has saturated the vital plane. As both planes are nearing saturation, the mind can act. Perhaps only when the whole of humanity is essentially covered by physical experience will the mind sail into action.

As the experiences of the physical and vital planes are exhausted, saturated and the planes are mature with experience, it is time to evolve a theory. Also, in the past man has never attempted development as a conscious effort. The hundreds of developmental failures are an indication that no conscious attempt has been resorted to. This again is an indication that the time has come for conceptualisation.

What the body is forced to do, it experiences as movement. The vital chooses to do what the body feels compelled to do. The vital experiences in energy what the body experiences in matter. At the next stage the same is experienced by the mind as comprehension.

Theory is the mind in its comprehension codifying what the body experiences in physical substance - matter.

The twentieth century seems to be the watershed between developmental experience and a theory of development. Two or three events of importance stand out. One is the backlash of expanding development in the form of pollution which indicates that in some fashion the development effort cannot go further. For humanity to accept development as a full time vocation, it must have assured peace. War, as known by this century, has been abolished for all intents and purposes. The nervous energy of mankind engaged in the tension of the cold war has now been released. Assured peace and the stalling of the further spread of development augur well for the emergence of a theory.

At least from two highly placed persons the idea was mooted. One was chief of the UNDP advisory board and the other the UN chief. The latter described the evolution of a theory of development as an intellectual challenge of this century. People placed at the helm of world affairs looking for a theoretical framework for the guidance of their main activities is certainly a symptom that the mind of humanity may be ready for that conceptualisation.

Great national events have shaken the world decade after decade. Several of them were successfully tackled and a catastrophe averted, but several others had their sway. The Great Depression, the two World Wars, the Green Revolution, emergence of Japan, the demise of empires, and the spread of education were there. Wherever tragedies were averted, they were not done so consciously. Without exception all human victories of the Green Revolution type have been unconscious.

Theoretical knowledge validates past practical experience. If that validation is logically perfect, theoretically it enables one to project the theory into the future for purposes of prediction. Logically perfect theories, like that of Marx, may lead to practical disaster. But when a logical theory has the advantage of being tested against past experience, it is validated in theory and practice, thus enabling it to be a future instrument of development. In this way theory can accelerate future development. It is the process of an unconscious equipment becoming a conscious instrument. The unconscious element in our equipment leaves several chinks in our armour, making us vulnerable to the environment and future forces, physical and non-physical. Becoming conscious means the body is guided by the mind or mind uses the power of the body. Naturally it becomes more powerful by the mind sharing the power of the body, and speedier by the body using the speed of the vital and mind. Nations, corporations, and organisations can plan with a knowledge they do not have now. That planning cannot go astray because it is comprehensive. Without being conscious one cannot be comprehensive.

Economists the world over talk of development as the development of wealth, infrastructure, comforts, conveniences, technology, and resources possessed. They see land, oil, natural resources, buildings, roads, airport, education etc. as development. But these are the results of development, not development. Again, community development, national extension service, hybrid seeds, fertilizers, and liberalisation are spoken of as development. These are strategies, programmes and projects. They are the means to development but not development itself. A social energy helps develop. A certain will of the society releases that energy. Sometimes that energy is directed to become a social force. That direction is given by the social attitude and social goals. An organisation in the society converts that force into social power. The available social skills convert that social power into the social results mentioned above. The process by which the social energy is converted into social results is a social process. It is this process that is called development.

Development is a process and not a programme or a policy. Will, energy, direction, force, organisation, power, and skill all go to accomplish development. All together they make up the development organisation which incidentally includes a part known as organisation too. It is this that serves as the lynch pin for development. In a sense this developmental organisation is the backbone or social structure that enables the process of development to complete itself.

Over long centuries society developed the million fingers of this central organisation by an unconscious process of slow trial and error. Without any knowledge of the goal or process, it seeks to be consciously organised at a centre. The organisation itself does not seem to be aware of its whole existence or its centre or the relationship of the centre to its terminal fingers. Only the ends are visible to man, and perhaps also to the self-awareness of the organisation only the ends are revealed, not the whole.

Physical work generates vital energy and gives rise to subconscious knowledge i.e., knowledge in the physical. Being subconscious and physical it does not confine itself to one individual but is spread all over the collective. The collective physical existence by exertion collects a little subconscious knowledge. At the point of saturation it shows in one pioneering individual who is conscious. Thus the collective subconscious knowledge becomes individual conscious knowledge. Its next stage is the conversion of the knowledge into effective work through external means. That external means is the social organisation we described above.

Organisation is the collective subconscious knowledge becoming a social instrument of work through the pioneering conscious individual.

Organisation is the mind’s comprehension systematising the physical experience into an instrument of social action.

That ORGANISATION continues to grow.

The growth of that organisation is development.

That organisation is composed of systems and subsystems which are truly the skills of the organisation. For its functioning it needs what are called infrastructures that enable the organisation to achieve its goals. Infrastructures exist as physical components, vital attitudes crystalising into institutions, and mental beliefs that guide the mass of men as rules, laws, customs and usages.

As the society grows it sheds lower skills and acquires higher skills. By skills of the society we mean the organisation and its systems. As in the path of every progress, achievements of the past, however glorious, have a way of becoming obstacles for future progress. Neither the shining monarchies of the past, nor the wisdom of Socrates, nor even the findings of Newton can hold forever with the same aura. Developmental effort proceeding unconsciously has the painful necessity of breaking down the obstacles to make the transition complete. Conscious development, guided by a theory has the option of transforming the past obstacles into future opportunities.