Development is very complex concepts of Social Sciences because it is a substantive concept and once it is achieved it will address all the socio-cultural and environmental ills of the society. Although, it has brought in significant improvement in the quality of life in more than one way but increasing regional disparities, social inequalities, discriminations, deprivations, displacement of people, abuse of human rights and undermining human values and environmental degradation have also increased. Considering the gravity and sensitivity of the issues involved, the UNDP in its Human Development Report 1993, tried to amend some of the implicit biases and prejudices which were entrenched in the concept of development.
People’s participation and their security were the major issues in the Human Development Report of 1993. It also emphasised on progressive democratisation and increasing empowerment of people as minimum conditions for human development. The report recognised greater constructive role of ‘Civil Societies’ in bringing about peace and human development. The civil society should work for building up opinion for reduction in the military expenditure, demobilisation of armed forces, transition from defence to production of basic goods and services and particularly disarmament and reduction in the nuclear warheads by the developed countries. In a nuclearised world, peace and well-being are major global concerns.
According to the Neo-Malthusians, environmentalists and radical ecologists, for a happy and peaceful social life proper balance between population and resources is a necessary condition. These thinkers advocated the gap between the resources and population has widened after eighteenth century. There have been marginal expansion in the resources of the world in the last three hundred years but there has been phenomenal growth in the human population. Development has only contributed in increasing the multiple uses of the limited resources of the world while there has been enormous increase in the demand for these resources. Therefore, the prime task before any development activity is to maintain parity between population and resources.
Sir Robert Malthus was the first Scholar who raises his voice his concern on the growing scarcity of resources as compared to the human population. Apparently this argument looks logical and convincing, but a critical look will reveal certain intrinsic flaws such as resources are not a neutral category. It is not the availability of resources that is as important as their social distribution. Resources everywhere are unevenly distributed. Rich countries and people have access to large resource baskets while the poor find their resources shrinking. Moreover, unending pursuit for the control of more and more resources by the powerful and use of the same for exhibiting ones prowess is the prime cause of conflicts as well as the apparent contradictions between population resource and development.
Indian culture and civilisation have been very sensitive to the issues of population, resource and development for a long time. It would not be incorrect to say that the ancient scriptures were essentially concerned about the balance and harmony among the elements of nature.
Mahatma Gandhi advocated the reinforcement of the harmony and balance between the two. He was quite apprehensive about the on-going development particularly the way industrialisation has institutionalised the loss of morality, spirituality, self-reliance, non-violence and mutual cooperation and environment. In his opinion, austerity for individual, trusteeship of social wealth and non-violence are the key to attain higher goals in the life of an individual as well as that of a nation. His views were also re-echoed in the Club of Rome Report “Limits to Growth” (1972), Schumacher’s book “Small is Beautiful” (1974), Brundtland Commission’s Report “Our Common Future” (1987) and finally in the “Agenda-21 Report of the Rio Conference” (1993).