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Economic growth and Human Resource Development - II
Our political process has largely failed to deliver the basic social needs. We have to shed our complacency and have to recognise the current euphoria about economic liberalisation. The state has to perform its role in social and human development.

HUMAN RESOURCE Development is confronted with many problems in developing countries. These are:

  • rapidly growing population;  
  • mounting unemployment in the modern sector, and widespread under-employment in traditional sectors including agriculture;
  • shortage of persons with critical skills;
  • inadequate or undeveloped organisations and institutions for mobilising human effort;
  • lack of incentives for persons to get involved in particular activities, which are important for national development.

There are, however, many other problems linked with nutrition and health.

There is another important aspect of Human Resource Development, and this relates to the fact that most of the developing countries are faced with two diverse manpower problems: The shortage of skilled manpower in the modern sector, and surplus (excess) labour in both modern and traditional sectors. Both of these problems are closely related. To the extent, the problem of shortage gets sorted out, the problem of surplus labour automatically gets resolved to some degree. Both the problems are related to education, and both get aggravated with the pace of modernisation.

In view of this, any strategy of Human Resource Development should have a two-fold objective of building skills, and providing productive employment to unutilised or under-utilised manpower.

After having discussed the basic framework, and the various aspects/dimensions of Human Resource Development, we now briefly look at the Indian scenario, essentially in the area of education.

There are three very important aspects of expenditure on education in India. Firstly, it is not considered as an investment in human resources. It is just thought of as an investment in social service. The role of education as an important input in various production processes is completely ignored. Secondly, public expenditure on education had also stagnated for three decades, though it has steadily increased since the 80s. But, it is still most inadequate in terms of our needs, and also as compared to many other countries. India is ranked very low amongst many countries in terms of the proportion of public expenditure on education to Gross National Product. Thirdly, India is still lagging behind in terms of literacy rate. Although the national average has gone up, yet more than half of the population still remains illiterate.

India has, however, expanded educational facilities at all levels including technical education. Universalisation of education has been a policy priority, but it still remains an unfulfilled dream. As a consequence, the spread of secondary education is quite limited and higher education is available to a small percentage of the population. The country has, however, progressed very well in the field of technical education both quantitatively and qualitatively. During recent times, India has laid great stress on modernisation and technological advancement in education, and has contributed amazingly to high-skilled manpower in software and information technology.

Despite our limited endeavours in other spheres of education, India manages its own affairs on its own in almost all the areas, and does not, in any way, depends on foreign expertise. On the other hand, it provides all kind of manpower to other countries.

In terms of policy, India had continued with the colonial education system of the British rulers till about 1968, when the government had announced its first National Education Policy, which was in accordance with the requirements of the country, but there was a big gap between the policy and practice due to many natural and man-made bottlenecks. Another National Policy on education was announced in 1986, which, amongst other things, emphasised

  • qualitative improvement, essentially in higher and technical education; 
  • vocationalisation of secondary education;
  • development of regional languages;
  • dynamic linkages between education, health, social welfare, and employment;
  • priority to backward areas, including hilly and tribal regions.

This policy was revised in 1992, and was in line with the earlier policy, but it further added to the inconsistencies and contradictions between the stated goals and actual policy, on the one hand, and between stated goals and resource allocation, on the other.

In the context of Human Resource Development, the prevailing education system in India suffers from many shortcomings, some of which are highlighted below:

There is no link, whatsoever, between the producers and users of manpower with the result that institutions of learning, essentially at the secondary, technical, and higher levels, are not exactly aware of the end result and use of their manpower output.

There is no focus on the quality of education in terms of the depth and dimensions of teaching and in terms of syllabi, though technical education does have some quality control.

Higher education is by and large financed by the government and that too without any reference to quality and output.

Summing up this discussion, we conclude that our political process has largely failed to deliver the basic social needs. We have, therefore, to shed our complacency, and we have to recognise the current euphoria about economic liberalisation. Market forces, no matter how efficiently they work, cannot alone tackle the issues involved. The state has to perform its basic role in the areas of social and human development.

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