Growth, Development and Happiness 2.7
introsPecting DeveloPment 6 world. It means development had failed to deliver
them happiness, peace of mind, a general well-
Confusion about the real meaning of development
being and a feeling of being in good state. Scholars
started only after the World Bank and the started questioning the very efforts being made
International Monetary Fund came into being. As for development around the world. Most of them
experts were studying the development process of have suggested a need of redefining development
the developing world, they were also surveying the which could deliver happiness to mankind.
performance reports of the developed world. As the Why has development not delivered
western world came to be regarded as developed, happiness to the developed world? The answer to
having top twenty ranks on the HDI, social this question does not lie in any one objective fact,
scientists started evaluating the conditions of life in but touches so many areas of human life. First,
these economies. Most of such studies concluded whenever economists from the outset talked about
that life in the developed world is anything but progress they meant overall happiness of human
happy. Crime, corruption, burglaries, extortion, life. Social scientists, somehow have been using
drug trafficking, flesh trade, rape, homicide, moral terms such as progress, growth, development,
degradation, sexual perversion, etc.—all kinds of well-being, welfare as synonyms of ‘happiness’.
the so-called vices—were thriving in the developed Happiness is a normative concept as well as a state
6. There were diverse opinions about the real meaning of ‘development’—by mid-1940s upto almost the whole 1950s it
meant 5–7 per cent growth rate in an economy—even by the IMF and WB. By the late 1960s new views of development
started emerging. Arthur Lewis had seen development in the sense of human freedom in 1963 itself when he concluded
that “the advantage of economic growth is not that wealth increases happiness, but that it increases the range of human
choice.” For him development means a freedom from ‘servitude’—mankind could be free to have choices to lead a life
full of material goods or in spiritual contemplation (W. Arthur Lewis, The Theory of Economic Growth, Allen & Unwin,
London, 1963, p. 420).
For Dudley Seers development meant more employment and equality besides a falling poverty (‘The Meaning of
Development’, a paper presented at the 11th World Conference of the Society for International Development, New Delhi,
1969, p. 3). Dudley Seers was later supported by many other economists such as Denis Goulet (The Cruel Choice: A
New Concept in the Theory of Development, Atheneum, New York, 1971, p. 23), Richard Brinkman (1995), P. Jegadish
Gandhi (1996) and many others.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) had also articulated by the mid-1970s that economic development must
be able to deliver the economic ability that people can meet their basic needs (the concept of ‘sustenance’) besides the
elimination of absolute poverty, creating more employment and lessening income inequalities (Employment, Growth and
Basic Needs, ILO, Geneva, 1976). Amartya Sen articulated a similar view via his ideas of ‘capabilities’ and ‘entitlements’
(“Development: Which Way Now?”, Economic Journal 93, December 1983, pp. 754–57).
By 1994, the United Nations looked to including the element of ‘capabilities’ in its idea of development when it
concludes that ‘human beings are born with certain potential capabilities and the purpose of development is to
create an environment in which all people can expand their capabilities in present times and in future. Wealth is
important for human life. But to concentrate exclusively on it is wrong for two reasons. First, accumulating wealth
is not necessary for the fulfillment of some important human choices.... Second, human choices extend far eyond
economic well-being’ (UNDP, Human Development Report 1994, Oxford University Press, New York, 1994, pp.
The World Bank by 1991 had also changed its views about development and had concluded that for improving the
quality of life we should include education, health, nutrition, less poverty, cleaner environment, equality, greater freedom
and richer cultural life as the goals of development.
Amartya Sen, a leading thinker on the meaning of development attracted attention for articulating human goals of
development. He opined that enhancing the lives and the freedoms we enjoy, should be the concerns of development
known as the ‘capabilities’ approach to development (see his Commodities and Capabilities, North Holland, Amsterdam,
1985 and Development as Freedom, Alfred Knopf, New York, 1999).