Introduction to Development

Development is a process of social change. It is the most valued and perhaps the most imprecise concept. It only acquires a more appropriate meaning when it makes a reference for theories, contexts, problem and policies concerning to the developing and least developed countries. It is the multi-dimensional process of social change felt by people and they change their general state of life into qualitative state. It is a condition where a society has high per capita income, provision of education and health services, employment opportunities, availability of physical infrastructure, equal access of people in decision making level etc. In other words, development is a process of establishing the unified, self-reliant, civilized, well cultured and prosperous society.

Development can be defined as a process of social change. The terms development and social change are interrelated concepts. Social change is possible only through developmental activities. Development activities such as construction of physical infrastructure, increase in PCI, GDP and GNP, provision of employment opportunities, protection of human rights, formation of national assets, eradication of absolute poverty etc. result or change society into new and complex forms of social structure.

Some of the definitions given by Scholars are:

Michael Todaro "Development is a multidimensional process involving changes in structure, attitudes, and institutions as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality, and eradication of absolute poverty."

David Korten, "Development is a process by which the members of a society increase their personal and institutional capacities to mobilize and manage resources to produce sustainable and just distributed improvement in their quality of life."

Hugo Slim, "Development is not a commodity to be weighted and measured by GNP statistics. It is a process of change that enables to take change of their own destinies and realize their full potential. It requires building up in people the confidence, skill, assets and freedom necessary to achieve this goal."

We conclude that development is a process of change which results in increased economic productivity and prosperity and new and more complex form of social structure. It can be taken as an attack on the chief social problems of modern societies such as malnutrition, disease, slums, unemployment, inequality, racial and regional discrimination, poverty, low economic growth etc. It is a multidimensional process of social change. It is a positive structural and institutional change as well as transformation of human life to qualitative state. Thus, it is a process of changing integrated, well-cultured, civilized, self-reliant and equitable society.

Indicators of Development

A) Quantitative indicators

  • High per capita income
  • Increase in gross national product (GNP)
  • Balance in export and import
  • Availability of physical infrastructure such as road, electricity, schools, transportations, means of communications etc.
  • Establishment of commercial institutions
  • Establishment of industries
  • Plenty of natural resources
  • Low agricultural dependency
  • Use of modern tools and technologies
  • Development and use of natural resources
  • High economic growth rate

B) Qualitative indicators

  • Low level of poverty
  • Personal freedom
  • Provision of human rights
  • Good people's health
  • High literacy rate and vocational training
  • National unity
  • Independent judiciary
  • Sense of security
  • Creative opportunities
  • sense of security
  • Peace and harmony in society

Human Development Index (HDI) 

Human development is a process of enlarging people’s choices. Principally, these choices can be infinite and changeable over time. But, these three are essential one:

  • To live long and healthy life,
  • To acquire knowledge, and
  • To have access to resources needed for a descent standard of living.

Human development is about acquiring more capabilities and enjoying more opportunities to use those capabilities. With more capabilities and opportunities, people have more choices, and expanding choices is at the core of the human development approach. But human development is also a process. Anchored in human rights, it is linked to human security. And its ultimate objective is to enlarge human freedoms. Human development is development of the people through the building of human resources, for the people through the translation of development benefits in their lives and by the people through active participation in the processes that influence and shape their lives. Income is a means to human development but not an end in itself.

This concept human development, as postmodern concept of development, was introduced on 24th May of 1990 by UNDP. Human development concerns more on formulation human capital. If these three chances are not available, many opportunities remain inaccessible. But human development does not end here. Additional choices highly valued by many people ranges from political, economic, and social to opportunities for being creative, productive, enjoying personal freedom, self-respect and generated human right.

Nepal’s status in Human Development Index



HDI Ranking
















Human Development: Achievement and Challenges

The levels of human development have improved all over the world. Every developing region’s HDI value increased considerably between 1990 and 2015, although progress has been slowing since 2010. This reflects important advances not only in income, but also in health and education. Between 1990 and 2015 the aggregate HDI value of the least developed countries increased 46 percent, and the aggregate HDI value for low human development countries increased 40 percent.

1. Reduced poverty and hunger: - The global extreme poverty rate ($1.90 a day) was estimated at less than 11 percent in 2013, a drop of more than two-thirds from the 35 percent in 1990.

  • The decrease has been particularly remarkable in East Asia and the Pacific, where the proportion of people living on less than $1.90 a day fell from 60.2 percent in 1990 to 3.5 percent in 2013, and in South Asia, where the proportion fell from 44.6 percent to 15 percent.
  • The working poor, who work and live on less than $1.90 a day, accounted for 10 percent of workers worldwide in 2015, nearly two-thirds less than in 2000. The global population suffering from hunger declined from 15 percent in 2000–2002 to 11 percent in 2014–2016.

2. Decreased mortality: - The global under-five mortality rate was more than halved between 1990 and 2015. While children in the poorest households are far less likely to survive to their fifth birthdays, the mortality rate is declining faster for children in poor households than for other children. Maternal mortality rates have also declined considerably since 1990: 45 percent globally and 64 percent in South Asia, as of 2013. Access to professional health care has improved: in 2014 more than 71 percent of births worldwide were attended by skilled health personnel, up from 59 percent in 1990.

3. Improved access to basic social services: - Access to basic social services has been greatly expanded worldwide. Between 1990 and 2015, 2.1 billion people gained access to improved sanitation, halving the number of people resorting to open defecation, a major source of transmittable diseases.

4. Improved environmental sustainability: - Environmental protection, which has become a key global issue, has shown encouraging successes as well. The degradation of the ozone layer, a major concern in the 1990s, has been halted, and by 2050 the ozone layer will have fully recovered from the damages caused by ozone-depleting substances.

5. Increased people’s participation: - People’s participation in public and political life, another essential aspect of human development, has also improved over the past 25 years. The average share of parliamentary seats held by women worldwide rose from 11 percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2015, and two-thirds of developing countries have achieved gender parity in primary education, allowing girls and women to better voice their concerns and interests.