Thursday, 16 April 2015

Critiques of Human Development

Although human development concept has been hailed
as a paradigm shift in development thought, it is not
without criticisms. Most criticisms pertain to the
ambitious goals it sets in terms of broadening people’s
choices, yet confines itself to measuring three variables
only, indicating that the concept has oversimplified its
priorities. Proponents of human development have
responded that these three variables capture the
essential elements of human choices and capabilities
in a substantial manner. Longevity reflects freedom
from violence, diseases, ill health, and nutritional and
health related deprivation; literacy shows access to
resources of knowledge and participation while the
income part reflects the command over resources for
a decent living and realizing one’s capabilities. Critics
say the measure does not pay attention to elements
such as empowerment, equity, sustainability and
security, which are vital for making choices. Moreover,
there is a view that economic and social indicators
should not be combined into a single figure as HDI, but
analyzed in tandem.
Critics also argue that it is difficult to determine what
choices constitute human development. For instance,
should increase in divorce rates be taken as a positive
or a negative sign of human development? In the former
case, it reflects the choices to rectify wrong decisions
regarding marriage and come out of it. In the latter
case it reflects greater amount of instability in the
family and general social relationships among people.
A further criticism is that the human development
concept has been designed primarily by economists
and hence, the variables concentrate on the human
aspect of development. It takes the attention away
from the social aspects like socio-political institutions,
social structures and social groups, which are not
reflected in the variables chosen.
However, there is a broad agreement that the human
development approach is a significant improvement in
the way development is perceived and measured,
although more needs to be done in future.