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Human Development in India

Human Development in India

Introduction

  • The human development (HD) story of India is unique in its kind. Through the preparation of not only national, but also sub-national Human Development Reports (HDR), India has decentralised and integrated the human development concept into its development agenda at national, State, as well as district and municipality level.

Historical Journey of Human Development Philosophy

  • Aristotle gave the idea that wealth is only a means to achieve something else, not an end in itself.
  • Kautalya in his Arthashastra has written about social welfare as an important duty of the king.
  • The early founders of quantitative economics expressed their concern in economic development for better lifestyle and mainstreaming of the poor.
  • The importance of wealth magnified with imperialism and colonialism. Ultimately 20th century witnessed a wild craze for wealth, income, GNP and GDP.
  • The experience of developing countries proved that income growth does not solve the problems of mass poverty and this highlighted the other dimensions of development.
  • Due to this, the concept of social development came into existence, which emphasises the development of the totality of society, in the economic, political, social and cultural aspects.
  • Human development concept is closely related to these two (Social development and economic development) but its particular emphasis is on the quality of life of every individual, group or community.

United Nations Human Development Index (HDI)

  • The Human Development Index (HDI) was created to emphasize that expanding human choices should be the ultimate criteria for assessing development results.
  • The human development approach, developed by the economist Mahbub Ul Haq, is anchored in the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s work on human capabilities. It had the explicit purpose “to shift the focus of development economics from national income accounting to people-centred policies”.
  • Very High Human Development Countries have stable governments, Better health & education, High life expectancies and High economic growth
  • Low Human Development countries have unstable government, has poverty, Poor education, & healthcare facilities and Lower economic growth & low income

Human Development Reports

  • The first Global Human Development Report was launched in 1990 by the UNDP and has been prepared annually since then.
  • Each year, HDRs address a theme highly relevant to the current development debate.
  • They provide path-breaking analysis and policy recommendations, are translated into more than a dozen languages, and are launched in more than 100 countries.

Human Development in India

  • When India became independent in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru stressed the importance of the task that lay ahead of ending poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity.
  • As the 1st Five Year Plan (FYP) was launched, it however did not spell out any specific planning strategy linking sectoral investment proposals to the objecti ve of the plan.
  • But in the 2nd FYP the principles of ‘socialistic pattern of society’ underlay the planning strategy and emphasised social gain. It put stress on raising standards of living by raising nati onal income through a rapid industrialisation process with focus on heavy industry.
  • During the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, most of the focus was, however, put on accelerating economic growth, savings and investments. This was nothing unique to India, but was the dominati ng approach to development in most developing countries, as the belief in the trickle-down effect to solve the issue of poverty was strong.
  • During the 1990s, India introduced economic reforms, aiming at liberalising the economy through various initiatives.

Human Development Reports in India

  • Inspired by the Global HDRs, and the human development paradigm introduced in the 8th FYP, some States in India started preparing sub-national HDRs.
  • Under the Indian constitution, States have the responsibility for subjects such as education, health, agriculture etc. and from the 1950s onward, State governments in India have been involved in the process of planning for economic and social development in the respective States. Therefore, it is quite natural that some of the State governments independently started preparing Human Development Reports. These reports largely followed the UNDP methodology, and the world’s first State HDR was published in Madhya Pradesh in 1995 and included the computation of the State’s HDI as well as HDI for all the districts in the State. Madhya Pradesh followed up its first HDR by releasing three more HDRs in 1998, 2002 and 2007.
  • A similar independent process of preparing a State HDR in Karnataka was initiated in 1997 and the report was released in 1999.

Limitations of Human Development Index

  • Wide divergence within countries. For example, countries like China and Kenya have widely different HDI scores depending on the region in question. (e.g. north China poorer than south-east)
  • HDI reflects long-term changes (e.g. life expectancy) and may not respond to recent short-term changes.
  • Higher national wealth does not indicate welfare. GNI may not necessarily increase economic welfare; it depends on how it is spent. For example, if a country spends more on military spending – this is reflected in higher GNI, but welfare could actually be lower.
  • Social and economic welfare also depends on several other factors, such as – threat of war, levels of pollution, access to clean drinking water.
  • High level of Date Error –
    • Improper updating of Data
    • Revision of the formula to calculate the Statistics
    • Deciding the threshold to Classify a country’s development Status.

Some Important Schemes & Policies in India

  • New National Educational Policy – To reform education system across all level of schools.
  • India New-born Action Plan – Aims to achieve, single digit NMR and single digit still birth rate by 2030.S
  • Mid-day Meals Scheme – To improve attendance and nutrition level of school children.
  • Samagara Siksha – An integrated scheme for school education. The scheme aims to improve school infrastructure and quality of education.
  • The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs – with their universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity – foreshadow a better world that the human development approach is helping to build. But the story of global development will not end in 2030. It is the job of this generation, to ensure that human development philosophy will continue to shape the global development landscape for the rest of the 21st century.

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