Custom Search
Dear Readers,
Please Give Comments, Like and Send in Facebook, Subscribe this via RSS or E mail. Become a follower of this site through Google Friend Connect or Google reader or Blogger.... Feel free to email me at for anything...

Development Concept


What do you understand by the concept of development? Discuss the characteristics of underdevelopment in developing countries.

Ans:- Development implies on overall positive change in the physical quality of life. This positive change for the better encompasses economic as well as social aspects. Therefore, development not only calls for economic growth but also the equitable distribution of the gains made from economic growth. In other words, development implies growth with justice. It means an improvement in the quality of life through better health, education, housing and overall material and social welfare. The basic elements of development are the following:

(i) Removal of inequality and poverty;
(ii) Increase in material welfare of the people;
(iii) Increase in social well-being (education, health, housing, etc.);
(iv) An equitable distribution of the gains of development among different groups of people in a region or country;
(v) An enhancement in technology and the capacity to produce a wider range of goods and services in the economy leading to a better quality of life;
(vi) Building institutional structures which permit participation in decision-making at all levels, equalization of opportunities for development and removal of disparities.

For a long time, it was assumed that development depends primarily on economic growth and would automatically occur if economic growth took place. This view of development has, however, been criticized on the ground that it ignores the distribution of the gains from growth; and also, how the growth has been achieved and at what costs. An increase in production in a country does not automatically mean that there has been better distribution of what has been produced. For instance, though the production of food-grains has grown almost four-fold since independence, this does not imply that every Indian gets enough to eat. This has meant that the question of distributive justice has assumed greater importance. Also, the composition of the set of goods produced is important.

It is necessary to understand the difference between the concepts of economic growth and development. Economic growth means an increase in the value of all goods and services produced in an economy. The sum total of all goods and services in an economy is termed as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Growth is, therefore, a sustained expansion in the productive capacity of an economy leading to sustained rise in its GDP. Development, on the other hand, is sustained improvement in material welfare, particularly for those who are poor and afflicted by poverty, illiteracy and poor health conditions. Development is, therefore, a qualitative concept involving a qualitative improvement in the general standard of living in a country or economy.

Characteristics of Underdevelopment :

The characteristics of underdevelopment in developing countries are:

(i) Mass poverty;
(ii) Low levels of income and concentration of incomes in a few hands;
(iii) High levels of unemployment and under-employment;
(iv) Poor nutrition, health, housing, literacy and welfare status;
(v) Preponderance of primary sector and low levels of industrialization;
(vi) Lower status of women and that of a variety of social groups such as
     scheduled castes in India.

These characteristics of underdeveloped countries will help in generalizing some of the problems that one finds common to most of them. This will enable us to also grasp the key issues that affect the developing societies.

(i) The poverty levels are very striking in the developing countries: In India, over 26 percent of people are below the poverty line as per the recent official count conducted in 1999-2000. However, many experts have questioned the official figure, mainly on the ground that the methodology used to collect the relevant data in 1999-2000 was that of the earlier surveys and have argued that the incidence of poverty could be substantially higher than the official estimates. The single biggest sections affected by poverty are the landless agricultural workers in rural areas. Close to half the number of such households in India were below the poverty line. Poverty alleviation continues to be the single biggest problem facing Indian planners.

(ii) Low levels of income for large sections of the masses and high inequalities in the distribution of income are very apparent in India. Most developing countries have this problem because assets are unequally distributed. This perpetuates the problem of low incomes for the poor. The existence of mass poverty amidst glaring inequalities is among the most important symptoms of inadequate development in the low-income countries.

(iii) Low levels of productivity and backward technology are the other major problems of the developing countries. Increased productivity is an indication of greater efficiency. Improvements in technology and better management and organization are necessary for this purpose. For instance, in the agricultural sector greater use of fertilizers, improved varieties of seeds, better ploughs, etc. can lead to increase in output from the same unit of land. Generally, crop yields per hectare in the developed world are far higher than those in developing countries. The need to improve technology and the overall input package in agriculture is obvious.

(iv) High levels of unemployment and unemployment are characteristic of developing countries. Since the industrialization is low and the agricultural sector cannot absorb the entire work force, the problem of unemployment and underemployment continues to grow. As per the Report of the S.P.Gupta Committee , which was set up by the planning Commission, there are more than 27 million people unemployed in India currently. At present rate of labour absorption, this number is likely to increase to a whooping 70 million by 2012. Obviously, the problem is much greater if one takes into account the problem of pervasive underemployment particularly in rural areas. Rapid industrialization and modernization of the agricultural sector will obviously go a long way in creating more employment. The pressure of unemployment also perpetuates the problem of low wages as employers take advantage of surplus labour and pay low wages, workers are not able to bargain because there are thousands willing to do the same work at the prevailing rates.

(v) Poor health, nutrition, illiteracy and poor housing are also characteristic features of developing countries. The low levels of income obviously play a central role in perpetuating these problems. As earning are low, people are not able to consume a balanced diet providing the requisite number of calories and nutrients. The most vulnerable are the children in the developing countries. Compared to standards prevailing in the developed countries. The problem of nutrition will have to be tackled if developing countries are to make advantage in the field of health. Similarly, there are huge gaps between the developed and developing countries in the field of education. It is particularly striking that the major problem is with respect to female illiteracy. As mentioned earlier, inadequate such deprivations. It must be stressed, however, that public policy has to play a critical role in addressing these problems. In fact the histry of development experience shows without any ambiguity that in the early and middle stage of modern economic growth process there is no substitute for government intervention in areas such as health, education, etc., and that growth in itself is no answer to these problems. Moreover even in the country that are advanced in terms of standard economic growth parameters, inadequate public policy can lead to situations of serious deprivation for particular groups. For instance, in the United states, African Americans as a group have lower life expectancy than people born in the immensely poorer economies of Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Costa Rica or Kerala in India, amongst several others. Within united states, according to a recent study, African American men and women in the age groups 35 and 54 years had almost twice and thrice the mortality rates, as compared to white men and women respectively. Similarly, in India the gaps between different social groups with reference to the standard socio-economic indicators are disturbingly huge. To redress these gaps, carefully designed public interventions are of utmost importance.

(vi) Lower status of women and that of a variety of social groups such as scheduled castes in India. In underdeveloped countries, the women are much more vulnerable than their counterparts in the developed countries. On most development indicators, they rank lower than males in their own country. Their health and nutrition status is not at satisfactory levels for large numbers. Female illiteracy is fairly widespread. They also have to put up with both covert and overt forms of discrimination and the barriers regarding their role in the society. Women are often paid lower wages even through they perform the same work, and therefore work participation rates of women in census data are shown much lower than one would expect. Improving the status of women is, therefore, an important development objective. The social pressures on women are also a major impediment to development in large parts of the third world. The crudest and the most gruesome form of discrimination against women in many parts of the world is reflected in the terrible phenomenon of what has come to be known as ‘missing women’ caused by practices such as female feticide, etc. resulting in excessive mortality among them. It is medically well acknowledged that if there is symmetrical care in most advanced countries. For instance, in countries such as USA and UK, the ratio of women to men exceeds as 1.05, where as in India and Pakistan it is as low as 0.93 and 0.90 respectively.

These are some of the more important characteristics of development. Using these, you should be able to roughly differentiate between developed and developing countries.

By : Pranab Kumar Sathua


Post a Comment


©2009 Development for You | Template Blue by TNB