UPSC Economics Planning and Economic Development NCERT Extracts - Development

NCERT Extracts - Development

Category : UPSC




  • The idea of development or progress has always been with us. We have aspirations or desires about what we would like to do and how we would like to live.
  • Similarly, we have ideas about what a country should be like. What are the essential things that we require?
  • Can life be better for all? How should people live together? Can there be more equality? Development involves thinking about these questions and about the ways in which we can work towards achieving these goals.                                
  • Do all of these persons have the same notion of development or progress? Most likely not. Each one of them seeks different things. They seek things that are most important for them, i.e., that which can fulfil their aspirations or desires.
  • In fact, at times, two persons or groups of persons may seek things which are conflicting A girl expects as much freedom and opportunity as her brother, and that he also shares in the household work. Her brother may not like this.
  • Similarly, to get more electricity, industrialists may want more dams. But this may submerge the land and disrupt the lives of people who are displaced - such as tribals. They might resent this and may prefer small check dams or tanks to irrigate their land.
  • So, two things are quite clear : one, different persons can have different development goals and two, what may be development for one may not be development for the other It may even be destructive for the other.


Income and other Goals


  • If we go over Table on the next page, we will notice one common thing: what people desire are regular work, better wages, and decent price for their crops or other products that they produce. In other words, they want more income.
  • Besides seeking more income, one way or the other, people also seek things like equal. treatment, freedom, security, and respect of others. They resent discrimination. All these are important goals.
  • In fact, in some cases, these may be more important than more income or more consumption because material goods are not all that we need to live.
  • Money, or material things that one can buy with it, is one factor on which our life depends. But the quality of our life also depends on non-material things mentioned above
  • If it is not obvious to us, then just think of the role of our friends in our life. We may desire their friendship.
  • Similarly, there are many things that are not easily measured but they mean a lot to our lives. These are often ignored. However, it will be wrong to conclude that what cannot be measured is not important.

 Table : Developmental Goals of Different Categories of Persons


Landless rural labourers 

More days of work and better wages; local school is able to provide quality education for their children; there is no      social discrimination and they too can become leaders in the village.

Prosperous farmers from Punjab    

Assured a high family income through higher support prices for their crops and through hardworking and cheap labourers; they should be able to settle their children abroad.

Farmers who depend only on rain

for growing crops


A rural woman from a land owning



Urban unemployed youth


A boy from a rich urban family



A girl from a rich urban family      

She gets as much freedom as her brother and is able to decide what she wants to do in life. She is able to pursue her studies abroad.                                        

An adivasi from Narmada valley



  • For development, people look at a mix of goals. It is true that if women are engaged in paid work, their dignity in the household and society increases.
  • However, it is also the case that if there is respect for women there would be more sharing of housework and a greater acceptance of women working outside. A safe and secure environment may allow more women to take up a variety of jobs or run a business.
  • Hence, the developmental goals that people have are not only about better income but also about other important things in life.


National Development


  • If, as we have seen above, individuals seek different goals, then their notion of national development is also likely to be different.
  • It is very important to keep in mind that different persons could have different as well as conflicting notions of a country's development.
  • If even the idea of what constitutes development can be varied and conflicting, then certainly there can be differences about ways of developing.


How to Compare Different Countries or States?


  • We might ask - if development can mean different things, how come some countries are generally called developed and others under developed?
  • When we compare different things, they could have similarities as well as differences
  • Usually we take one or more important characteristics of persons and compare them based on these characteristics,                                                
  • For comparing countries, their income is considered to be one of the most important attributes.
  • Countries with higher income are more developed than others with less income. This is based. on the understanding that more income means more of all things that human beings need
  • Whatever people like, and should have, they will be able to get with greater income. So, greater income itself is considered to be one important goal.
  • The income of the country is the income of all the residents of the country. This gives us the total income of the country.
  • However, for comparison between countries, total income is not such an useful measure. Since, countries have different populations, comparing total income will not tell us what an average person is likely to earn. Are people in one country better off than others in a different country?
  • Hence, we compare the average income which is the total income of the country divided by its total population. The average income is also called per capita income.
  • In World Development Reports, brought out by the World Bank, this criterion is used in classifying countries. Countries with per capita income of USS 12,616 per annum and above in 2012, are called rich countries and those with per capita income of US$ 1,035 or less are called low-income countries.
  • India comes in the category of low middle income countries because its per capita income in 2012 was just USS 1,530 per annum.
  • The rich countries, excluding countries of Middle East and certain other small countries, are generally called developed countries.   


Income and other Criteria


  • When we looked at individual aspirations and goals, we found that people not only think of better income but also have goals such as security, respect for others, equal treatment freedom, etc. in mind.
  • Similarly, when we think of a nation or a region, we may, besides average income, think of other equally important attributes.
  • In Kerala, out of 1,000 children bom, 12 died before completing one year of age but in Maharashtra the proportion of children dying within one year of birth is 25, which is more than double.
  • On the other hand, the per capita income of Maharashtra is more than that of Kerala.
  • Just think of how dear we are to our parents, think of how every one is so happy when a child it born. Now, try to think of parents whose children die before they even celebrate their first birthday. How painful it must be to these parents?
  • Next, note the year to which this data pertains. It is 2012. So we are not talking of old times; it is more than 65 years after independence when our metro towns are full of high rise buildings and shopping malls!
  • The problem does not end with Infant Mortality Rate.


Public Facilities


  • How is it that the average person in Maharashtra has more income than the average person in Kerala but lags behind in these crucial areas? The reason is - money in our pocket cannot buy all the goods and services that we may need to live well.
  • So, income by itself is not a completely adequate indicator of material goods and services that citizens are able to use.
  • For example, normally, our money cannot buy us a pollution-free environment or ensure that we get unadulterated medicines, unless we can afford to shift to a community that already has all these things.
  • Money may also not be able to protect us from infectious diseases, unless the whole of our conrnunity takes preventive steps.
  • Actually for many of the important things in life the best way, also the cheapest way, is to provide these goods and services collectively.
  • Just -hink will it be cheaper to have collective security for the whole locality or for each house to have its own security man?
  • What if no one, other than us, in our village or locality is interested in studying? Would we be able to study? Not unless our parents could afford to send us to some private school elsewhere.
  • So we are actually able to study because many other children also want to study and because many people believe that the government should open schools and provide other facilities so that all children have a chance to study.
  • Even now, in many areas, children, particularly girls, are not able to achieve secondary level schooling because government/society has not provided adequate facilities.
  • Kerala has a low infant Mortality Rate because it has adequate provision of basic health and educational facilities.
  • Similarly, in some states, the Public Distribution System (PDS) functions well. Health and nutritional status of people of such states is certainly likely to be better
  • Isn't it surprising that a small country in our neighborhood, Sri Lanka, is much ahead of India in every respect and a big country like ours has such a low rank in the world?
  • Though Nepal has less than half the per capita income of India, yet it is not far behind India in life expectancy and literacy levels.
  • Many improvements have been suggested in calculating HDI and many new components have been added to the Human Development Report but by pre-fixing Human to Development, it has made it very clear that what is important in development is what is happening to citizens of a country. It is people, their health, their well being, that is most important.
  • Human Development Report published by LHMDP compares countries based on the educational levels of the people, their health status and per capita income. It would be interesting to look at certain relevant data regarding India and its neighbours from Human Development Report.


Table: Some Data Regarding India and its Neighbours for 2013



Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (2011 PPP $)

Life Expectancy at birth

Literacy Rate for 15+yrs population 2002-2012

HDI Rank in the world

Sri Lanka






























Source: Human Development Report, 2014


1. HD1 stands for Human Development Index. HDI ranks in above table are out of 177 countries in all.

2. Life Expectancy at birth denotes, as the name suggests, average expected length of life of a person at the time of birth.

3. Per Capita Income is calculated in dollars for all countries so that it can be compared. It is also done in a way so that every dollar would buy the same amount of goods and services in any country.



Sustainability of Development


  • Suppose for the present that a particular country is quite developed. We would certainly like this level of development to go up further or at least be maintained for future generations. This is obviously desirable.
  • However, since the second half of the twentieth century, a number of scientists have been warning that the present type, and levels, of development are not sustainable
  • Groundwater is an example of renewable resources. These resources are replenished by nature as in the case of crops and plants.                               
  • However, even these resources may be overused. For example, in the case of groundwater, if we use more than what is being replenished by rain then we would be overusing this resource.                               
  • Non-renewable resources are those which will get exhausted after years of use, We have a fixed stock on earth which cannot be replenished.
  • We do discover new resources that we did not know of earlier. New sources in this way add to the stock. However, over time, even this will get exhausted.
  • Consequences of environmental degradation do not respect national or state boundaries. this issue is no longer region or nation specific. Our future is linked together.
  • Sustainability of development is comparatively a new area of knowledge in which scientists economists, philosophers and other social scientists are working together.
  • In general, the question of development or progress is perennial. At all times as a member of society and as individuals we need to ask where we want to go, what we wish to become and what our goals are. So the debate on development continues.


Groundwater in India

  • "Recent evidence suggests that the groundwater is under serious threat of overuse in many parts of the country. About 300 districts have reported a water level decline of over 4 metres during the past 20 years. Nearly one-third of the country is overusing their groundwater reserves. In another 25 years, 60 per cent of the country would be doing the same if the present way of using this resource continues. Groundwater overuse is particularly found in the agriculturally prosperous regions of Punjab and Western U.P., hard rock plateau areas of central and south India, some coastal areas and the rapidly growing urban settlements."
  • For example, crude oil that we extract from the earth is a non-renewable resource, however we may find a source of oil that we did not know of earlier. Explorations are being undertaken all the time.


Exhaustion of natural resources

  • How many years the stock of crude oil will last if people continue to extract it at the present rate. The reserves would last only 53 years more. This is for the world as a whole.
  • However, different countries face different situations. Countries like India depend on importing oil from abroad because they do not have enough stocks of their own.
  • If prices of oil increase this becomes a burden for everyone. There are countries like USA which have low reserves and hence want to secure oil through military or economic power.
  • The question of sustainability of development raises many fundamentally new issues about the nature and process of development.


Important Facts


  • Infant Mortality Rate (or IMR) indicates the number of children that die before the age of one year as a proportion of 100 live children born in that particular year.
  • Literacy Rate measures the proportion of literate population in the 7 and above age group.
  • Net Attendance Ratio is the total number of children of age group 14 and 15 years attending school as a percentage of total number of children in the same age group.
  • One way to find out if adults are undernourished is to calculate what nutrition scientists call Body Mass Index (BMI).

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NCERT Extracts - Development

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