Whither real human development in India?
India climbed up a spot to rank 130 out of 189 countries in the latest human development rankings released by the United Nations Development Programme UNDP However, inequality and gender gap remain a major cause of concern More than 25 years of neoliberal policies have only worsened income and wealth inequalities So, what if we are worlds fastestgrowing major economy
India climbed up a spot to rank 130 out of 189 countries in the latest human development rankings released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). However, inequality and gender gap remain a major cause of concern. More than 25 years of neo-liberal policies have only worsened income and wealth inequalities. So, what if we are world’s fastest-growing major economy?
The UNDP has quoted in a statement that the success of India’s national development schemes like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao,’ ‘Swachh Bharat,’ ‘Make in India’ and initiatives aimed at universalising school education and healthcare will be crucial in ensuring that the upward trend on human development accelerates.
It sounds somewhat ironical to hear the very slogan ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ now-a-days. The growing crime against our ‘betis’ is appalling, in fact. What happened to a ‘Padhao-ed’ baby of Haryana the other day? Could she be ‘Bachao-ed’ from the vultures which set eyes on her even after she brought laurels to the entire State by topping the CBSE. This human development index is either skewed or unwanted for this country.
Movements in the Human Development Index rank are driven by changes in health, education and income levels. But not based on human behaviour index. In 1990, the first human development report introduced a new approach for advancing human wellbeing. The human development approach is about expanding the richness of human life, rather than simply the richness of economy in which human beings live.
It is an approach that is focused on people and their opportunities and choices. Income growth is seen as a means to development rather than an end in itself. The Centre went into a celebratory mode seeing the report forgetting the fact that human development is about giving people more freedom to live lives they value. In effect, this means developing people’s abilities and giving them a chance to use them.
This essence is missing in the country and the government that breathes fire claiming success of these schemes would do well to answer why it has miserably failed in protecting the individual choices and liberties. Did the government really provide developmental opportunities to the girl child, to a dalit, a minority community person and a free thinker in this country? Or, is it providing, by the connivance of the police forces and politicians, a stifling choice and chance to the males of this country whose sex orientations and attitudes and patriarchal norms attack girls and others every now and then ‘to teach them a lesson.’
As long as the country does not really have the freedom of choice, there is no meaning to human development index. When we see children begging on the streets and living under the flyovers in our country, which one do we call a developed India? The one on the flyover or the one below the flyover? Discrimination against women is all-pervasive and long-running phenomenon that characterises Indian society at every level. Progress in gender equality matters. Personal choices too matter. Allow them to develop without fear of the rapists and ‘lynchists’ of the country.