All five instruments are interconnected and equally important. They are like the five equally important sides of a box in which urban investments can be contained. Success is measured by the degree to which obstructions are removed and each has to be tackled in the development process. In other words, development will inevitably get distorted if only one or two of these objectives are given a priority by using the argument that some of the freedoms can come afterwards.


In evaluating the degree of freedom available to the individuals of a society or community, the citizen's rights and opportunities are perceived through the perspective of the five instruments, or components, of freedom. In a sense these instruments are considered to be five different and distinct types of interdependent freedoms and are seen to be instrumental because they are the principle means of accessing the rights and opportunities that help individuals to expand their freedoms and capabilities.

The five types of freedoms provide a multi-objective strategy necessary to safeguard access to Political Freedoms, Economic Facilities and Social opportunities, and to expect Transparency Guarantees and Protective Security.

These five instruments of freedom are the basic building blocks for a democratic society. It is the simplicity and totality of the ideas of ever expanding freedom that merits our special attention. Indeed the five types of freedom that he identifies in his book define comprehensive, universal, moral and ethical principles as the relevant goal of any development initiative. The obstructions to freedom can be clearly identified and expanded through the five components or instruments that influence the potential of the citizen. These are the instruments that citizens need to enable them to overcome the constraints.

The constraints to ever expanding freedoms are termed "un-freedoms" - obstructions and barriers that could exist in economic, social or political realms of society. Thus poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation, tyranny, poor economic opportunities, social deprivations, poor public facilities, intolerance, communalisation, ethnic centricity, repressive state apparatuses, lack of education, absence of health care, lack of security, corruption can all be termed un-freedoms. They are all regarded equally relevant. In the efforts to remove un-freedoms, vital roles are played by markets, market related organisations, governments, local authorities, political parties, civic institutions, educational facilities, media, opportunities for free speech and public debate, social norms and values about childcare, gender issues as well as the treatment of the environment.

The five instruments of freedoms act like the filters through which one can evaluate the level of development of an individual, a household, a community, a city or a nation. Ideally, a Freedom Index could be devised for micro and macro observations. Let us very briefly, describe these freedoms:
POLITICAL FREEDOMS. The free opportunities citizens have to determine who should govern them and on what principles. Enshrined in this opportunity is the right to evaluate and criticize authorities, to a free press as well as freedom of expression and participation in the political process. During the 20th century, various forms of undemocratic governments have behaved in brutal ways that have severely damaged the prospects of development in their countries. Abuses of human rights (in Myanmar for instance) have placed significant constraints on human freedom and hence human development. But despite the presence of these autocratic regimes, significant progress has been made at a global level.

The UN informs us of this progress: while in 1975 only 33 countries had ratified the 'International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights'; this figure had risen to 144 by 2000. In 1900 no country had universal suffrage while today almost all countries have it. Between 1974 and 1999, multiparty election systems had been introduced in 113 more countries and today only about 40 countries do not have multiparty electoral systems. Political freedom is not just a macro level concern. It presumes the need of a democratic representative system, one that works upward from the grass root community micro level, where collectives do not inhibit voting patterns.

Political Freedoms
  • Forums for free debate
  • Ability to participate in public discussions
  • Protection for dissenters
  • Free media
  • Existence of political parties
  • Elected bodies
  • Facilities to scrutinise authorities
  • Positional arrangements to ensure checks and balances between judiciary, legislature and executive
  • Decentralisation
  • Citizen's participation
  • Institutional arrangements
Constraints of Political Freedoms
  • Absence of assessments required to inform policy makers
    about capabilities and potentials of development
  • Constraints to voting
  • Assess to voting booths
  • Constraints on access to law and order services
  • Nature of land titles
  • Constraints on access to information
  • Constraints on use to telecommunications
  • No protection against evictions
  • No Balance of power between central and local governments
Inhabitants need to have the opportunities and freedom to use the economic resources of the city, its hinterland and other territories for the purposes of consumption, production and exchange (trade). Freedom of access to these facilities includes the availability and access to finance, being able to gain a productive livelihood through the means of one's choice requires adequate and supportive facilities. The lack of such facilities is an unfreedom and a constraint to development, at least 150 million of the world's workers were unemployed at the end of 1998. This cause of unemployment can vary within a society and may be caused by social constraints, for instance, in South Africa the unemployment rate for African males is seven times higher than that of their white counterparts. Apart from the unemployment of the work force, in developing countries, there are some 250 million-child laborers.

Freedom for Economic Security
  • Open labour market
  • Protection from bondage
  • Access to product markets
  • Saving opportunities
  • Stable business ethics
  • Title to land
  • Freedom for women to seek employment outside home
Constraints of Economic Security
  • No Financing of shelter and human settlements
  • Gender equality that is the percentage of family income retained by women
  • Loans from moneylenders
  • Individual disabilities
  • No access to credit
  • Constraints on women to seek employment
  • No Access to training facilities
  • No Access to transport
  • No Access to markets
  • No improving of urban economies
  • No attempts to enable markets to work
  • No ability to mobilise sources of finance
The arrangements and choice of opportunities that the administration makes for education, health care and other essential community facilities for its citizens is relevant to evaluate the level of development. It is an essential responsibility of the administration to provide opportunities for the basic requirements of its inhabitants and not leave these to undefined national agencies. Much progress has undoubtedly been achieved, between 1980 and 1999, malnutrition was reduced and the proportion of underweight children in the underdeveloped world fell by 10% to 27%. Between 1970 and 1999, in the rural areas of the developing world, the percentage of people with access to safe water increased four fold to 71% but severe deprivations remain worldwide. 1.2 billion people still live on less than a dollar a day and 2.4 billion people lack sanitation facilities.

Freedom for Social Opportunities
  • Good health
  • Basic education
  • Gender equity
  • Women's well being
  • Childcare
  • Property rights for women
Constraints of Social Opportunities
  • No Access to medicine and maybe alternative medicine of culture
  • No Access to fuel
  • Stability of dwelling
  • Domestic injuries
  • Exposure to pollution
  • Constraints to access to water
  • Constraints to school attendance
  • Unattended children, working children under ten years old
  • Number of children per class
  • Distance from primary school
  • Areas considered as dangerous or inaccessible to the police
Citizens need to be provided the guarantees for openness, necessary disclosures, rights to information and tangible evidence of trust so that the clauses of the social contract between the administration and the citizens are always clearly defined and enacted. A vivid example of the relationship between transparency and economic development is provided by contemporary Angola. Angola is an increasingly important source of oil for the developed world and its importance is enhanced by the fact that it is not an OPEC member state. The big companies extract its oil and they pay an estimated $5 billion in revenues, however none of the companies disclose their figures. The rulers of the country as well as the big oil companies take full advantage of this lack of disclosures and nobody seems to know what happens to this revenue. Angola's population is 12.4 million; 82.5% live in absolute or relative poverty, 62% have no access to drinking water and 76% have no health care.

Freedom for Transparency Guarantees
  • Absence of corruption
  • Mechanism for seeking justice
  • Guarantees of disclosures, Lucidity and speed of Judicial decisions
  • Access to police protection
Constraints of Transparency Guarantees
  • Unpublished contracts and tenders
  • No regular independent auditing of municipal accounts
  • No Laws on disclosure of potential conflicts of interest
  • Civil society is not involved in major public projects
  • No Facilities to report crime: unreported thefts or rapes
State institutions need to undertake measures to provide the necessary freedom to access the protection of a social security net that prevents the consequences of poverty and suffering from spreading amongst its inhabitants. Thus the state needs to provide support for the suffering caused by natural disasters, epidemics and war. In order to redefine the ends of development with these new definitions, new evaluation methods and data to inform us about citizen aspirations and not government perceptions needs to be gathered. Such data needs to be collected through democratic discussions that evaluate the citizen's choices that could enable them to lead a life of their own choice and value.

Freedoms of Protective Security
  • Emergency facilities
  • Shelters
  • Subsidy for victims of famine and disaster
  • Arrangements for protection of extreme deprivation
Constraints of Protective Security
  • No Access to networks
  • No Access to emergency food
  • Duration of migration
  • Nature of resettlement
  • Emergency and delay
  • Constraints to access of shelter



Professor Amartya Sen, Would you agree that it would be inconsistent with the freedom approach for politicians to prioritise certain freedoms over others, and certain groups over others if they have a long term and main goal and believe that this is the best way to reach all the freedoms and all the groups? That is can you prioritise if the freedom approach is an over arching guide and ultimate end? Or would you dismiss any prioritisation?

No, I think as a question I wouldn't dismiss prioritisation. But when one says prioritisation, one takes a peculiar approach. That is you are distinguishing types rather that combinations. That is political freedom comes next, economic freedom first. Or this comes first. That in the work, if I may use in mathematical analogy of programming, that's looking for a solution for just one thing and not the other. But that's not the way it works as the relative importance that you attach to a priority might change. That is the question of prioritisation generally. But not to prioritise as a kind of sequence.

So the idea that is quite central to what I'm trying to do in Development as Freedom, is to say to do all these things simultaneously is not the case. On the other hand to say the whole idea that political freedom might comes later than economic wealth is a point of view that many people have presented, and many books have been published with examples of it's value, and there is a lot of discussion. But I would say it is a mistake.

For example consider the first time the Indian electorate showed that it had any muscle at all in throwing a government out of office, it was not on the issue of hunger but on the issue of civil rights. Namely Mrs. Ghandi's suppression of fundamental rights including habeas corpus. On that count the first government ever in India in the democratic society, lost. And then it happened many times after that. So I think the Indian electorate despite being poor, wasn't saying that you can prioritise in such a way, that political freedom doesn't matter until you become richer and so on. I think it's a question of how to interpret the circumstances.

Yes, indeed, priorities will take the form of the relative way to attach the different concerns and then these are things to discuss. It may turn out, indeed it is often not recognised, just how much the absence of these things which are regarded as luxuries of people do, in fact, effect the lives of the most deprived. One of the reasons why political and civil rights became such a big issue at the time of the emergency is that people were being messed around, being arrested, kept in prison and badly treated and beaten up and not having an opportunity to speak with people, other poor people. While people like Meghnad or myself, if we were to be arrested, we will never have had a problem coming out. In some ways the civil rights are far less important for him and myself than they are for the slum dwellers. And therefore to say that for the slum dweller what really matters is food, and not civil rights is just a mistake. You cannot make a priority like that.

And that also brings me to the next question, why I don't think you can ever get into a formula. You will have to look at the circumstance, produce the kind of analysis and then see what is the thing you ought to emphasis now. This is the question I would prefer rather than prioritise, the question of emphasis, the question of relative weights. And if we interpret it that way, that is just the right kind of direction to go.
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