How An Indian & A Pakistani Economist Changed The Definition Of Development

Al Arafat Sherfuddeen

February 12th, 2016

Image Courtesy: volint | biografieonline
When the whole world adopted the definition of developed nations to measure development, two scientists thought otherwise. Amartya Sen and Mehboob Ul Haq felt development was not only about economic indicators but also human development indicators such as life expectancy, number of years of schooling among others. They created an index named the Human Development Index which captures the development of a human being in a country. The Human Development Index is now adopted by almost all the countries of the world and the index measures from 0-1 with 1 being maximum development. For instance, Norway measures highest in HDI with the value 0.955 and the Sub-Saharan Africa lowest with the average HDI value of 0.475.

A Brief history of Human Development Index?
Human development is defined as the process of enlarging people’s freedoms and opportunities and improving their well-being. Human development is about the real freedom ordinary people have to decide who to be, what to do, and how to live.
Human Development Index – HDI‘ A tool developed by the United Nations to measure and rank countries’ levels of social and economic development based on four criteria:
1.) Life expectancy at birth
2.) Mean years of schooling
3.) Expected years of schooling
4.) Gross national income per capita.
It was created by Indian economist Amartya Sen and Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq in 1990, and was published by the United Nations Development Programme. Mr. Amartya Sen was first opposed the idea converting Human Development into a number but after persuasion from Mehboob Ul Haq they went on to develop an index which captures human development.

 What Does It Mean To Measure Development By Human Well-Being?

For long and perhaps now also, the over-emphasis on economic indicators as a sole benchmark for development of a nation has moved the attention away from development of an individual. There have been many instances where a country has clocked good growth rates without adding jobs, without bringing about a tangible change in human development. What Amartya Sen and Mehboob Ul Haq’s HDI does is, it brings back to the forefront development of a human being i.e his/her health, education & freedoms as an essential feature of development.


Where does India stand in HDI?

There is good news and bad news when it comes to HDI of India. The bad news is India has a value of 0.609 which is considered average. While the good news is the HDI value of India is steadily increasing thanks to various government initiatives to improve the health and education of Indian citizens.

The Logical Indian community is certain, development should be two pronged i.e ensuring bringing about impressive economic growth and also to ensure the economic growth translates to development of an individual’s access to good healthcare, education and opportunities. Let us strive to achieve high economic growth and human development as achieved by countries like Sweden and Norway.

 

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