8th National Conference on ‘Diversity and Development’

Conference Invite

Date: Aug. 21, 2021 - Aug. 22, 2021

8th National Conference on

Diversity and Development’


Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar, Mumbai -400088

On 21 & 22 August 2021

Organised By

Professor Abdul Shaban

School of Development Studies


Dr TF Thekkekara (Retd IAS),

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra


Dr Zinat Aboli

Mithibai College, Mumbai

The urban and firm level studies demonstrate social diversity and cultural heterogeneities as driving forces of innovation and economic growth. However, macro (regional and national) studies on determinants of ‘development’ have largely neglected the cultural factors and focus largely on economic and political variables. For many, the cultural diversities like ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender, etc. have been regarded as hindrance to development. In this context, Vernon Ruttan (1991) wrote, ‘‘Cultural considerations have been cast into the ‘underworld’ of developmental thought and practice. It would be hard to find a leading scholar in the field of developmental economics who would commit herself or himself in print to the proposition that in terms of explaining different patterns of political and economic development . . . a central variable is culture” (p.276). For a long time, we have been beguiled into the Aristotelian argument that “diverse states are more susceptible to development inhibiting strife” (Lian and Oneal 1997: 61). Many also argue that cultural diversity is associated with political instability and that retards the economic growth and development at large. The arguments have also been extended that diversity in democratic countries will lead to multiparty system and polarization compromising the efficiency of democracy through gridlocks. However, these views have no universal acceptance. In fact, many argue that diversity will lead to flexibility, learning, adaptation, development of labour diversity and specialization, innovation and socio-economic sustainability, which may also positively influence and shape the ecological sustainability.

Contrary to the above point of view, many city and firm level studies have highlighted the positive impact of diversity on economic development and cultural change. Diverse set of cultures, communities and people offer the possibilities of learnings and improving from one another and various ways of doing things helps in innovations. Among others, the diversity leads to the economic growth through diversification of industries, labour specializations, and sustained demands of different goods and services by different communities. The temporality of demand of goods and services are also catered to by diversity- as the communities have their cultural, religious and other related festivals occuring in different seasons and hence demands. This does not allow the demand to slacken and economy to dampen. The diverse societies can also mutually cooperate and negotiate for responsible consumption and production. As such, diversity in peaceful democratic societies have enormous potential to directly address the SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the SD Goals), and indirectly help in achieving other SDGs.

India is a culturally diverse country. Its cultural diversity can be regarded as its huge resource for its economic development. The country has thousands of dialects, hundreds of languages, hundreds of ethnic and cultural communities, and followers in sizeable numbers of all the major religions of the world. Historically, in India, this policy has been promoted by different kings, empires, principalities and after the Independence by the Constitution of India. This also helped in developing strong institution of democracy, courts, and larger administration.

However, there has been a lack of adequate engagement by researchers on ‘diversity and development’ both at micro (urban and firm level) or regional and national levels. The present Conference, as sequence of the 7th National Conference, again attempts to take up this issue with a focus on the following (though not limited to):

1. Diversity and economic development: evidence from urban, regional and national level studies

2. Diversity and firm productivity: including innovation, entrepreneurship, and management.

3. Diversity and democracy: deepening of democracy, inclusion, and participation.

4. Diversity and social change: mutual learning, cooperation, and conflict

5. Diversity and institutions: inclusion and non-discrimination

6. Diversity and sustainability: with regard to various SDGs

[Note: the major axes (though not limited to) of examining the diversity would be ethnicity, gender, religion, caste, class, and languages]

Submission of Abstract/Paper:

We invite an abstract of 500 words highlighting the research problem, data, methods, and major findings. The last date of submission of abstract is June 15, 2021. Author(s) of papers will be communicated about acceptance of their abstract by June 20, 2021. Full draft papers of 6000 to 8000 words can be submitted by August 15, 2021.

Abstract can be emailed to:


For any other communication and urgency: please contact

Professor Abdul Shaban on email shaban@tiss.edu

We intend to select important papers based on their potential and advice from referees to publish them in a Special Journal Issue or as an Edited Volume (to be decided later) from a reputed international publisher.

Venue for the conference: The conference will be held at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar, Mumbai. Given the present COVID-19 situation, the conference will be held online on Zoom/Google meet.

Registration Fee: There is no registration fee for the Conference.