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We should have the right score sheet!

Saptarshi Pal's picture

In India, we are proud of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate. We have been boasting a high growth rate for several years now and the results are visible on the streets of our metropolitan cities. We have glittering shopping plazas, restaurants, multiplexes and a section of the Indian kids love to hang out at the McDonalds and KFCs that are mushrooming across the cities. However, there is another section of Indian kids whom you will find working as daily wage earners in the small stalls near the same McDonalds and KFCs!

I feel development is an improvement in the welfare of human beings. Using GDP growth rate, we can explain the improvement in the man-made capital (economic capital). However, we will not be able to explain the improvement, if any, in the human capital. To measure the quality of life we have to use the Human Development Index (HDI) – HDI takes into account life expectancy, literacy and GDP per capita. 

In an English proficiency test, if we were tested only on our essays, it would make sense to focus our time and energy on improving our writing skills alone. Although we may not be good at speaking the language, we wouldn’t work on that, because it will not show up on our score sheets! This test therefore provides an inaccurate evaluation, as a candidate needs to be judged on his speaking, reading and listening skills in order to provide the right evaluation (as in tests like TOEFL and IELTS).

Similarly, unless we have a proper indicator for development, our politicians and policymakers will concentrate only on increasing the man-made capital (reflected by the GDP) to deliver results, but our citizens will continue to be illiterate, health services will continue to be inefficient and we will keep suffering from pollution-related diseases.

Recently, we have been trying to go a step further. Both GDP and HDI do not talk about our natural capital. Our man-made and human capital may increase but this can be at the cost of our natural and environmental resources. So, from HDI we should move on to another indicator of human development, which will take into account our environmental concerns.

As mankind progresses, our tools for measuring this progress also have to improve and be more efficient. No indicator can be perfect, but we have to keep improving them so as to get a more accurate picture.

Comments

Submitted by Mubida on
I totally agree with you Saptarshi, in India the situation is rich becoming more richer and the poor getting poorer. You are right when you say development of a country lies in the welfare of the people residing in the country. A few days back my colleagues in office were engrossed in a serious discussion regarding how dissappointed they were with "Slumdog Millionaire" for portraying India as a country of slum and dirt and at the same time being happy about the Oscar awards it won. I fail to understand as to why we dissaprove of what is a fact. Many of us say that the west appreciates it when India is displyed in pathetic conditions. Well it may be true but this is also an undeniable truth that here in India where we have a celebrity possesing 10 bunglows in different parts of the world, cars worth crores, dresses worth lakhs...we also have lakhs of people living below the proverty line..starving for a meal a day... Coming to Human Development Index..Human development according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),refers to the process of widening the options of persons,giving them greater opportunities for education,health care,income,employment, etc. According to the last census of 2001 female literacy in the country is 54.16%. Which is a good figure but not the best. In the employment sector according to a report India's labour force is growing at a rate of 2.5 per cent annually, but employment is growing at only 2.3 per cent. According to the World Health Organization 900,000 Indians die each year from drinking contaminated water and breathing in polluted air. However, when it comes to the per capita income it is a healty trend as the per capita income of India has gone up as much as 14.2% in 2006-07. At the end the question is if we are talking of the growth rate of the country what are we actually considering. Will the man-made capital be only be the determining factor to measure the growth rate of a country. I agree when you say our tools for measuring growth is not perfect and with time such tools should be used to measure the growth of a nation that actually takes the welfare of the country and it's people into account when measuring the growth rate of the country.

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