The term ‘Development’ is, as of now, worldwide uttered and subject matter even in Bangladesh. The post Second World War, the conception of development is portrayed with various theories and approaches including Modernization, Dependency theory, Basic need approach, Neo-Malthusian Theory, Women and development, Neo-liberalism, Grassroots approach, Sustainable Development, Globalization, and Right-based Development, etc. All mentioned approaches have emerged from the environmental concern, equity, equality as well as diffusion of development. But question is that are all these approaches eligible for each country? Which theories should be applied for achieving actual development in a specific?
Among all approaches, Human Development is a much more significant and crucial approach because of thriving human life. It depicts human welfare, the beneficence of people particularly the maximization of the wellbeing of people. The term is central to human capabilities for analyzing the ability to participate in the decision-making process, the ability to enjoy freedom from exploitation as well as the sufficiency to actualize basic opportunities. One remains control over the living environment, resources and has social respect. This philosophy visualizes inequality and discrimination based on gender, income, location and other factors. It avoids discrimination and reduces disparity between urban-rural communities, rich and poor persons and different regions. It highlights markedly on equality even social justice. Finally, it leads to quality of life what is the vision of the human development approach.
Human Development Report-1990 stated that Human Development as a process of enlarging people’s choice and provides to live a long and healthy life, to be educated and to have access to resources needed for a decent standard of life. The report also includes political freedom, guaranteed human rights and personal self-respect. Furthermore, Human development Report-1996 said, “The basic objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative live”. Hence, it is apparent that human development is central to enhancing human capabilities and strengthening his skill through making healthy, wealthy in addition to educated. Moreover, it ensures a conducive environment for expressing themselves.
Human development philosophy is developed by Mahbub-Ul-Haq who was a Pakistani economist. He served at the World Bank as a director of policy planning in the 1970s and later became a finance minister in his own country. He tirelessly advocated for shifting the focus of development discourse from national income growth to the wellbeing of people. He devised the Human Development Index (HDI) which is the mainstay to measure human development throughout the countries. Like Mahbub-Ul-Haq, Amartyasen challenges the mainstream concept of measuring development by economic growth and in favor of welfare economics. These two prominent economists of South Asia endeavors to redefine development and development measurement system.
There have been used several terms to divide countries. Based on GNI per capita, World Bank describes a group of countries such as Developed, Developing or less Developing countries, etc. The existing measurement system by GDP growth is neither vigorous strategy nor authentic, rather it is artificial, questionable and debatable in the present development situation. Where Human Development captures three aspects (health, education and economic status or living standard), economic growth provides a single option (economic status or GNI per capita) to measure progress. Despite remaining a large number of faults and weakness of the measurement system, Govt. political party emphasizes economic growth to capture public attention. As a result, the gap between rich and poor people is swiftly rising which is alarming in future Bangladesh.
In contrast, the Human Development Index is greatly satisfactory according to international norms. It has become one of the most influential indices particularly an alternative to GDP measure as it contains not only economic development plans or economic growth but it also includes the indicators of economic growth with human development. The HDI has been widely used since the 1990s by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for presenting its Annual Human Development Report. UNDP categorizes countries (as ‘very high’, ‘High’, ‘Medium’, and ‘Low’, etc.). The Human Development Report-1990 mentioned that people are the real wealth of the nation and they are given prioritized in development policy.
According to Human Development Report 2018 (HDR) of UNDP, Bangladesh has placed 136th among 189 countries in the Global Human Development Index. In the consideration of HDI, Bangladesh is a medium human development country. Although Bangladesh moved to compare to the previous position, it is concerned matter that Bangladesh ranks fifth Among South Asian nations. On the other hand, Bangladesh is among the five fastest-growing economies (mentioned in the latest report of the World Bank (WB). Thus, it can easily be realized that Bangladesh lacks in the case of Human Development. The Government should concentrate more on human development than economic growth for the development of the country.
Human development incorporates three dimensions such as (1) A long and healthy life, (2) Education and Knowledge, and (3) Decent standard of living. It also covers some crucial ingredients intending to measure every aspect of Human Development.
(1) A long and healthy life: Health is measured by life expectancy at birth which is 72 years in Bangladesh. These dimension of human development requires a healthy environment and quality medical care with a view to ensuring physical and mental health and avoiding premature death. But it is a shocking matter that in the last several months, Dengue fever, mosquito borne-virus, outbreak severely in Bangladesh. The number of death is 40 since January according to the official figure. The number of unofficial death stood at 76 or more across the country. The total number of dengue affected patients are 44,471 among whom 7547 are currently hospitalized across the country (The Daily Star). The above statistics prove that the health condition of the whole country, especially in the Dhaka city arena, is at risk due to an unhealthy environment. For this reason, a great number of people are suffering from dengue virus which leads them to premature death.
(2) Education and knowledge: It is measured by mean years of education and Expected years of schooling which is respectively 5.8 years and 11.4 years in Bangladesh. Education is the most important tool for sustainable well-being and is essential to individual freedom, self-determination, and self-sufficiency. It builds personality, improves self-confidence, determines status and dignity as well as creates adaptation capability for survival with changing situations in the world. But the education system in Bangladesh is so poor. The teacher-student ratio in the classroom is 1:60 which should be 1:35. Also, the multimedia projector system is not available in every classroom. Besides, the academic system is still now conventional, not practical, and skill development related education is rarely prevalence. All these academic difficulties must be reformed.
(3) Standard of living: Income is compulsory to meet necessities like food, shelter, decent education, etc. Inadequate income limits to access opportunities. Notably, the Standard of living is measured by GNI per capita. World Bank projected that GDP growth is 7.3% in FY2019. BBS estimates an 8.13 GDP growth for the FY2019-20. This GDP growth represents the richest persons rather than poverty-stricken rural or slum area’s people. Income inequality between rich and poor people is so much acute in Bangladesh. Thus, to reduce the number of riches people and maintaining equal development, progressive taxation must have strictly imposed. Income distribution should be ensured. Then, all citizens can enjoy the standard of living.
To conclude, it can be cited that there have huge linkages between Human Development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Human Development philosophy tends to formulate the Sustainable Development Programme. The SDGs design a route to accomplish human development as well as facilitate to rethink about that development. Besides, the agenda is globally agreed with as an instrument for assessing development progress. Most of the SDGs uphold Human Development. For instance, goal 3 (Good health and well-being), Goal 4 (Quality Education), Goal 5 (Gender Equality), Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and Goal 10 (Reduced Inequality). All these sustainable development goals are directly linked to the Human Development approach.
The author is a freelance writer in Human Rights, Development & Economy.