Monday, February 14, 2011

What is Human Resource Development (HRD)?


The world has progressed in many unique ways and directions in the last three decades. It has developed technologically, economically and industrially. It is also richer in terms of human capabilities, facilities and quality of living. Improvements in education, communication, technology and markets have made the world a global village.
People live longer today, are better informed, can communicate with one another across the world and therefore carry on economic, professional, educational, social and other activities with ease. These decades of development indicate the vast potential for creating a world of order, security and well-being. The developments of the last three decades also indicate that while remarkable progress has been made in a number of directions, the fruits of development have not benefited the world’s growing number of poor people. And where some benefits have reached the poor, new problems are appearing in the form of deteriorating social fabric and environmental degradation. The world faces two major development challenges. The first is to ensure that the fruits of development reach the neediest through equitable distribution of resources, opportunities and benefits. The second is to develop human capabilities and address the challenges of development - political, economic and social. The few countries that have been able to meet both these challenges have demonstrated the importance of investing in developing people and improving the quality of their life through the adoption of human resource development strategies.

The Concept and Benefits of HRD

People make things happen. If people have to make things happen, they need a set of ‘circumstances’ to make them happen. However, it is the people that create ‘circumstances’ that can help them and others to make things happen. HRD is the process of enabling people to make things happen. It deals both with the process of competency development in people and creation of conditions (through public policy, programmes and other interventions) to help people apply these competencies for their own benefit and for that of others. There are many things included and implied in such a definition of HRD. Through such an enabling process people can create more alternatives for themselves and for others and increase their choices. The above definition also emphasizes the purpose of HRD as benefiting people, the individual, group or the community of which the individual is a member. Such benefits may be in terms of basic needs and welfare including a decent living or high level comforts, leisure and self actualizing opportunities. The individual or the group should perceive these benefits as benefits. Thus increased income or purchasing power may be a benefit for some, while freedom to choose one’s representative in the political system and freedom of expression may be benefits for others. Thus what is the beneficial depends on the time, group and other circumstances, and may keep changing.

Implied in the above conceptualization of HRD are the main facets of development of people including their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, moral, political, spiritual and all other forms of development. People cannot function or make things happen unless they are physically well developed, healthy and free from disease. Thus food, nutrition and freedom from disease become important. People need to earn their food and living by working for it. They need to engage themselves in productive activities for which again a combination of both physical development and intellectual development are important.

Intellectual development comes through the process of education and socialization. Social development involves developing the ability to live as a member of the society or a group and contribute to it, at the same time deriving benefits from it. The need of coexistence of all human beings makes this development imperative. Political development ensures human dignity through freedom of expression, democratic participation and an opportunity to influence things that is turn influence the individual’s living. Moral and spiritual development is required to bring order, discipline and peace into life and ensure that one person’s comfort does not become his neighbor’s poison. Thus all forms of development of people can be included in the definition of HRD. What we actually do in HRD is to develop human beings in such a way that they can be productive and effective to a certain end.

The target groups for development can be many: doctors, politicians, businessmen, civil servants, fieldworkers, teachers, voluntary workers, rural leaders, farmers, unemployed youth, scientists, engineers, slum-dwellers, children, girls, illiterates, women, labor (skilled and unskilled), primary school goers, university students, etc. the target groups can be classified on the basis of their age, sex, current socio-economic status, past deprivation, profession, occupation, etc. some of these groups have well-developed HRD systems or mechanisms that are already in operation as a part of their respective sectors and/or government intervention. The teachers in most countries, for example, have a good system of preparing themselves for their roles and continuously updating their competencies. So are the other professionals like doctors and managers.

HRD encompasses two major undertakings; the inculcation of competencies and capabilities in individuals, groups and communities and, creation of conditions through various mechanisms to help them apply these acquired competencies and capabilities, the first part of this course therefore, deal with understanding of human beings as individuals and, the second part revolves around different interventions, policies and programs required to create optimal conditions so that the benefits of HRD become far-reaching and long-lasting for the whole community.

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