Institutionalizing Human Development

Gender - specific commitments need to be integrated into every budget
Gender - specific commitments need to be integrated into every budget

The paradigm shift from measuring national incomes as 'development' to improving people’s lives and choices as 'human development' occurred in the 1990s. Creating an enabling environment is not an end in itself but the focus is on ensuring long, healthy and creative lives for people.


The Human Development Reports (HDR) is a tool to measure this progress in people’s lives and these reports are a flagship publication of UNDP. Commissioned by UNDP, HDRs connect countries to knowledge thus enabling them to strengthen their capacities to meet development challenges. UNDP India has taken Human Development to a sub-national level in the country. Since 1999, UNDP India has been supporting – in various capacities – the Government of India (GoI) to prepare HDRs at the state level. The preparation of these State HDRs helped break down the analysis of human development to district and community levels thus enabling cross-sectoral planning. It further helped in the development of district-specific research and policy strategies that helped the state and administration address intra-regional disparities and inequalities.


  • Support to the Government of India to prepare Human Development Reports at the state level
  • Trainings at the state and district levels to help initiate a bottom-up development planning strategy
  • 120,000 elected representatives sensitized at the panchayat or local village council level
  • Initiated a process of institutionalization of human development in the governance framework of Rajasthan

Rajasthan was among the first to prepare its Human Development Report in 2002 and has also been including a chapter on human development in its State Economic Review1since 2006. “Nevertheless, sensitization trainings were important because officials are still unclear about the definition and elements of human development”, says Leela Bhatnakhar, Director of the Department of Economics and Statistics (DES), Jaipur. Trainings under UNDP India’s project – Strengthening State Plans for Human Development – were carried out at the state and district levels. It was a process that initiated a bottom-up development planning strategy. The core target group was the District Planning Committee with members from various planning commissions. Being a constitutional group, it has a life beyond the project ensuring that the human development policy and action agenda would be consistently pushed forward.

Apart from government officials and bureaucrats at the district and state levels, close to 120,000 elected representatives have been sensitized at the panchayat (community governance) level since the beginning of the project.“The training broke the myth that development was all about infrastructure. By the end of the training, trainees wanted information on the global development scenario”, said Dr. Anita, professor at the Indira Gandhi Panchayati Raj Institution, Jaipur. As a result, trainee officials were able to pinpoint development concerns, especially gender-related issues as key to human development in their respective villages and communities.

The next phase of the project will see an emphasis in ‘Gender Budgeting’. The purpose of Gender Budgeting is not to create a separate budget. The aim is to define the governments or any other organizations gender-specific commitments, such as women’s health, education or employment, in monetary terms within existing budgeting practices. Here too, the Government of Rajasthan leads the way having already introduced this element in the state budget. However, Veenu Gupta, Secretary of the Department of School Education-Jaipur, cautions against merely allocating money without following it up with impact and outcome studies. She adds, “Gender Budgeting should be adopted in sectors where gender is a priority. It cannot be imposed on all departments”. Thus far fourteen gender-based studies have been carried out in Rajasthan. The project has also prompted the drafting of human development profiles for all the districts of Rajasthan, which is currently underway. This UNDP India project has initiated a process of institutionalization of human development in the governance framework of Rajasthan.


2 Economic Reviews are documents released before a national or state budget. These provide a snapshot of the economy in the last financial year

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