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

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Human Development for Freedoms in a World of Rising Inequalities

Human Development in an Unequal World by K Seeta Prabhu and Sandhya S Iyer, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2019; pp xxiii + 370, ₹ 1,250.


It is by now well recognised that the term human development has been perceived as an expansion of human capabilities, a widening of choices, an enhancement of freedoms and a fulfilment of human rights. This is also useful for the sustainable development goals (SDGs). It is well-known that human development has both intrinsic (for its own sake) and instrumental (achieving human capital and sustainability of growth) values. In general, the instrumental value is highlighted and the intrinsic value is often not recognised in concepts and policies. Regarding the measurement, the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is widely used for ranking the countries. Rodrik et al (2017) have discussed two challenges. The first one is the structural change challenge, which is focused on moving resources from traditional low productivity activities into modern, more productive industries or activities. The second one is the fundamentals challenge that relates to the development of broad capabilities such as human capital and infrastructure. According to them, the fundamental challenge of achieving capabilities is crucial for development.

One of the challenges for human development is the rising inequalities. An unequal world can lead to unfreedom and an increase in inequality of outcomes and opportunities. Global inequality in per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in terms of Gini coefficients has declined from 0.68 in 1988 to 0.62 in 2013. The global picture hides heterogeneities across countries and regions. Inequalities within countries have increased significantly. The key source of inequality at the global level has been technological change favouring high skills, which are unequal across different classes.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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