This article provides information about the human and growth approach to development:
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), human development is a process of analysing people’s choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and change over time. But at all levels of development, the three essential ones are there for people (a) to lead a long and healthy life, (b) to acquire knowledge and (c) to have access to resources needed for a decent standard of living.
If these essential choices are not available many other opportunities remain inaccessible. Human development, however, does not end there. Additional choices, ranging from political, economic and social freedom to opportunities for being creative and productive and enjoying personal self-respect and guaranteed human rights are also inseparable parts o human rights.
UNDP depicts two sides of human development: (a) the formation of human capabilities – such as improved health, knowledge and access to resources; and (b) the people making use of these capabilities for productive purposes – being active in cultural, social and political affairs.
If the scales of human development do not finely balance the two sides; considerable human frustration may result. According to this concept of human development, “income is merely one option 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.”
The Human Development Approach to development is different from the conventional approaches development, i.e., the economic growth, human capital formation, human resources development, human welfare or the basic human needs approaches. Economic growth, that is, the increase in production (GDP) is necessary but not sufficient for human development.
The theories of human capital formation and human resources development consider the human being as a means and not as an end. They are concerned with the supply side. The human welfare approach visualises people only as passive recipients of benefits of development and not as its participants. The basic needs approach aims to satisfy the basic minimum needs, i.e., food, shelter, clothing, etc., the deprived sections of the population rather than on the issue of human choices.
The human development approach puts equal emphasis on the production and distribution of resources, expansion and use of human capabilities, scope of choice, livelihood security, participatory process, and social, economic and political freedom. All these indeed emphases a paradigm shift in the social development strategy of the State. The world has become more polarised and the wide gap between the poor and the rich has widened further.
The UNDP, in its Human Development Report, points that the poorest 20% of the world’s population has experienced a decline in its share of global income from 2.3% to 1.4% in the last 30 years, whereas the share of the richest 20% rose from 70% to 85% during the same period. The gap in per capita income between the industrial and developing world trebled. There have been regional imbalances. The UNDP has voiced its concern against the jobless, ruthless, voiceless, rootless and fortuneless growth in the late 1990s.
It was jobless growth, since the economy grew but did not expand the opportunities for employment for large sections of the population. For the developing countries, jobless growth has meant long hours and very low incomes for hundreds of millions of people in low productivity work in agriculture and in other informal sectors.
This developmental process has been rendered ruthless by the fact that the fruits of economic growth have mostly benefited the rich; while millions of people stagnate in poverty. Ruthless growth causes people’s cultural identity to wither. At places the dominant majority culture amplifies at the cost of marginalisation of the minority cultures.
It has also been a voiceless growth as in many places it has not ensured the process of democratic participation of the people in decision-making processes. The voiceless growth process also provides women a marginal role in economic development. Again, fast economic growth is also achieved in some countries at the cost of destruction of forests, polluting rivers, destroying bio-diversity and depleting natural resources.
In this futureless growth, the present generation squanders resources needed by the future generation. At times the futureless growth benefits the industrialised countries at the cost of increased pressure on the poor people of the developing countries. As against this backdrop, the UNDP says development that perpetuates today’s inequalities is neither sustainable nor worth sustaining.
It is important to examine how development is being viewed as freedom by Amartya Sen. According to him; development must be perceived as a vital process of expanding real freedom that people enjoy. As per him, expansion of real income and economic growth are not necessarily characteristics of successful development as countries with high GDP and per capita income at times have low achievements in the quality of life.
On the other hand, countries with low GDP and low per capita incomes have higher human development indicators. Here the central purpose of development is to improve human lives, i.e., expanding the range of things that human beings can achieve and can do. To him, the objective of development is to remove obstacles such as illiteracy, ill-health, poverty, lack of access to resources or lack of civil and political freedom.
He does not deny that economic prosperity should be the major goal of planning and policy making. This is, however, only an intermediate goal to contribute to the ultimate goal of development, i.e., the development of human lives. To Sen, both the primary end and the principal means of development is expansion of freedom as freedom in one type helps advancing freedom of other types.
While access to economic opportunities is a major factor of economic growth, he also recognizes the contribution of instrumental freedom (political freedom, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees and protective security) in enhancing economic growth and the contribution of economic growth to facilitate those freedoms that come into the way of full attainment of human potentials.