Why Human Development?

Human development refers to the process of widening people’s choices, freedom and opportunities as well as raising the level of their well being. Human development focusses on the enlargement of all human choices whether economic, social, cultural or political.
Economic growth or development alone cannot guarantee human development. This is because these two terms pertain to economic advancement which is usually expressed in monetary terms. Accumulation of wealth does not necessarily mean the fulfilment of several kinds of human choices. For instance, a society does not have to be rich to afford democracy or equality. It is the how we use the wealth and not the wealth itself that is decisive in attaining human development. The real wealth of a society is its people and development of those people can transform that society.
In recent times, an alternative to GNP as a measure of economic development has lead to computation of the Human Development Index. This measure has been enlarged and many related indices like gender development index, gender inequality index, human poverty index, etc. have been developed as well. Human development is necessary for several reasons.
Human development leads to higher productivity. A healthy and skilled labour is a very important productive asset for any economy. Improvement in education not only enhances skills but also helps in lowering family sizes. Education makes people aware of the benefits of smaller families.
Human development also leads to a better physical and social environment. Population growth effects the environment. Deforestation, desertification etc decline with a decline in poverty. Reduced poverty also contributes to a healthy civil society, increased democracy and greater social stability.
Human development embraces the entire society and not just the economy. The political, cultural and social factors are given much importance as the economic factors.
Some of the important components of human development are equity, empowerment, sustainability and productivity. People must enjoy equitable access to opportunities. They must be empowered so that they are in a position to exercise choices of their own free will. The development should be sustainable i.e. needs of future generations should also be under consideration. Productivity is an essential part of human development as therefore should always be a priority.
In the recent years, economists have shifted their concern from economic growth to human development. This has lead to the creation of Human Development Index (HDI). HDI is a measure of human development done on the basis of three dimensions: long and healthy life, access to education and decent standard of living. Long and healthy life can be measured through life expectancy while literacy rate shows access to knowledge. For measuring standard of living, GNP is often used.
Since human development is so closely linked to economic growth, it is important that planning in economic growth should coincide with human development. It means that equal emphasis should be laid on production and distribution objectives. Human beings should be declared the ultimate objective of economic planning. There are enormous difficulties in doing so but it is worthwhile.