Historical developments in rural India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and China are the empirical basis of this study which offers a theory of rural development for all Asia keyed to fundamental humanistic values rather than narrower techno-economic considerations. Previous efforts have often been "top-down" processes tending to serve bureaucracies and rural vested interests instead of the 70 to 80% of Asia's population who are the rural masses. This rural development theory identifies five core concepts: man as the end of development, de-alienation of man from the development process, growth of man's collective personality, participation as the true form of democracy, and self-reliance. This rural ideal necessitates land reform (through mass initiative rather than imposition from above), collectivization (to sustain rural mass power, make optimum use of land and technology, exploit economies of scale, and mobilize mass labor fully), and building infrastructure with collective labor. Village schools and colleges can be important change agents through dissemination of appropriate technology. The education system itself must be turned around since in most Asian countries, it has been functionally irrelevant and socially parasitic, serving to alienate students from rural life. Institutions should evolve from collective need and be continually subject to it. (RS)
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United Nations Asian and Pacific Development Inst., Bangkok (Thailand).