Human Development Index 2004

Economic freedom is as important as cultural and political freedoms

The UN Development Project released its Human Development Report; as usual, India and the countries in its immediate neighbourhood vied for places in the bottom half.

Country       HDI Rank       Typical Reaction
Maldives 84
Sri Lanka 96
India 127 Self-congratulatory on cultural diversity but silent on the dismally low ranking
Bhutan 136 Does not count its poor
Bangladesh 138 Poverty level reduced by 3%, but income disparity. Better than Pakistan.
Nepal 140
Pakistan 142 Victim of an unjust down-grading

Simultaneously, The Cato Institute has released its Economic Freedom Index (using data from the year 2002). India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have moved up in the rankings, while Sri Lanka and Nepal have slipped. Increasing economic competition between India and its neighbours will be to everyone’s interests. The economic agenda of the Indian government will be that one factor that can bring this about.

Country       EFI Rank (2004) EFI Rank (2003)
India 68 71
Sri Lanka 78 71
Bangladesh 83 87
Pakistan 90 101
Nepal 94 87

The United Nations’ report focuses on the importance of cultural liberty to human development. Cultural liberty has plenty of advocates in India while economic freedom is viewed with suspicion. The Cato Index has yet to be picked up by the mainstream media in India. Yet, economic freedom correlates quite strongly with human development and in contrast to ephemeral cultural liberties, allowing greater economic freedom is well within the government’s reach. The road to prosperity for everyone in the subcontinent is paved with similar stones – those of economic, political and cultural freedoms.

3 thoughts on “Human Development Index 2004”

  1. Cultural niceties are basically bunkum for a country such as ours where poverty is measured in terms of malnourishment. Economic prosperity is quite simply the only overriding goal. I’m willing to wager many poor indians would gladly want to live in China where economic sunrise is past the horizon and is becoming a reality dumping India – its democracy and cultural diversity notwithstanding!

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