Thursday, 16 April 2015

Human Development

The concept of ‘human development’ was formally
launched in 1990 with the publication of Human
Development Report by the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP). It was the result of years of debates
and discussions between economists, social scientists,
activists, development agencies etc. in which late
economist Mahbub ul Haq played the lead role. The
conception of human development has been influenced
also by Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen’s ideas
of ‘capabilities’ and ‘freedom’. According to Sen,
development is the expansion of freedom, well being
and dignity on individuals in society.
However, the human development approach is not a
new idea. In Haq’s own words, the rediscovery of human
development is a tribute to early leaders of political
and economic thought who propounded that social
arrangements must be evaluated to the extent to which
they promote ‘human good’, not wealth or income. The
idea dates back to Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) who argued
that “wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking,
for it is merely useful and for the sake of something
else”, and to Emanuel Kant who called upon to treat
humanity as an end, never as means only (Haq, 2000).

Definition and meaning

Human development is concerned primarily with the
reduction of human deprivation, the creation of human
capability, and unleashing processes that enlarge
peoples’ choices The Human Development Report 1990
defines human development as a process of enlarging
people’s choices. Although these choices are limitless
and change over time, three essential choices for people
at all stages of development are — to lead a long and
healthy life, to acquire knowledge and to have access
to resources needed for decent standard of living. But
human development does not end there. “Additional
choices highly valued by many people range from
political, economic and social freedom to opportunities
for being creative and productive and enjoying personal
self-respect and guaranteed human rights” (Haq, 2000).
The Report explains that human development has two
sides: the formation of capabilities - such as improved
health, knowledge and skill — and the use people
make of their acquired capabilities — for leisure, for
productive purposes or for being active in cultural,
social and political affairs. If the scales of human
development do not finely balance between the two
sides, considerable human frustration may result.
According to this concept of human development,
income is clearly only one of the options that people
would like to have, albeit an important one. But it is
not the sum total of their lives. Development must,
therefore, be more than just the expansion of income
and wealth. Its focus must be people.

Main features

Haq (2000) has given the following main features of
human development.
1) Development must put people at the center of its
concerns.
2) The purpose of development is to enlarge all human
choices, not just income.
3) The human development paradigm is concerned
both with building up human capabilities (through
investment in people) and with using those human
capabilities fully (through an enabling framework
for growth and employment).
4) Human development has four essential
components: Equity, Sustainability, Productivity and
Empowerment. It regards economic growth as
essential but emphasizes on quality and
distribution. It also analyses its links with human
lives and questions its long-term sustainability.
5) The human development paradigm defines the ends
of development and analyses sensible options for
achieving them.