ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Once Again a Poor Record

Human development in India remains inadequate because the focus remains on GDP growth.

The 2015 edition of the Human Development Report (HDR) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) marks the 25th anniversary of the landmark presentation of an alternative measure of well-being that goes beyond per capita GDP the (“gross domestic product”) which since the end of World War II has held sway over thinking and policymaking across the world. The idea of “human development” emerged from the work of the economist Amartya Sen and was then first “measured” by the UNDP at the initiative of its economist-administrator Mahbub ul-Haq. Development is and must mean an expansion of people’s choices and the ability to do things that people value, not all of which are captured in a summary measure like income per capita.

In the years since 1990, human development as a concept and the summary measure, the Human Development Index (HDI), which formalised the idea, have become part of the mainstream, though the focus of policymaking in all countries remains on how to raise per capita income. The HDI has always shown how India first failed in human development, and then how its rapid increase in income since the early 1990s has not been equitably shared and fully translated into social development, especially in health and education. The 2015 HDR once again shows India in a poor light.

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