Tuesday, October 6, 2009

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

In spite of the fact that Pakistan's Human Development Index (HDI) has risen by 1.30 percent per year from 0.402 to 0.572 during 1980-2007 period, and it has accelerated to 1.9% increase since 2000 when it was reported to be 0.499, its progress is not yet sufficient to improve the nation's ranking relative to other countries in regions like East Asia, which have been moving considerably faster. Pakistan's index grew by 1.75% in the 1980s but slipped to less than 1.3% during the lost decade of the 1990s.

South Asia Lagging

In fact, the latest Human Development Report for 2009 shows that all major South Asian nations have slipped further down relative to other regions of the world. Pakistan's HDI ranking dropped 3 places from 138 last year to 141 this year, and India slipped six places from 128 in 2008 to 134 this year. The report includes human development data on 182 countries on the index, which measures achievements in terms of life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income.

Rankings of other South Asian countries in 2009 are as follows: Bangladesh 146 (140 in 2008), Sri Lanka 102 (99 in 2008), Maldives 95 (100 in 2008), Nepal 146 (142 in 2006) and Bhutan 132 (135 in 2008). Norway continues to top the chart, while Australia, Iceland, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Japan make up the top 10. The US is ranked 13, while Britain and Germany are further down at 21 and 22.

Human Development Defined:

HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy); being educated (measured by adult literacy and gross enrollment in education); and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity) income.

Human Poverty Index (HPI-1) focuses on the proportion of people below certain threshold levels in each of the dimensions of the index. By looking beyond income deprivation, HPI-1 represents a multi-dimensional alternative to the $1.25 a day poverty measure. The HPI-1 value is 33.4 percent for Pakistan ranks 101st among 135 counties for which the index has been calculated. This figure of 33.4% poverty differs sharply from 17.2% poverty calculated for 2007-08 by the UNDP analysts in Islamabad.

Pakistan's Gender Development Index value means that the greater the gender disparity in basic human development the lower is the country's GDI relative to its HDI. Pakistan's GDI value, 0.532, should be compared to its HDI value of 0.572. Its GDI value is 93 percent of its HDI value. Out of the 155 countries with both HDI and GDI values, 152 countries have a better ratio than Pakistan. The Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) shows whether women take an active part in economic and political life and is different to GDI as the GEM exposes inequalities in opportunities in selected areas. GEM says Pakistan ranks 99th out of 109 countries in the GEM index, with a value of 0.386.

Allowing for migration-both within and between countries-has the potential to increase people's freedom and improve the lives of millions around the world, according the Human Development Report. "We live in a highly mobile world, where migration is not only inevitable but also an important dimension of human development. Nearly one billion-or one out of seven-people are migrants.

"Migration can be a force for good, contributing significantly to human development," says United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark. "But to realize its benefits, there needs to be a supportive policy environment as this Report suggests."

Comparing HDI and PHI:

Unlike HDI which adds other dimensions such as literacy, the new index PHI focuses specifically on the most basic parameters of poverty and hunger in developing nations.

On PHI, Pakistan at 45 ranks well ahead of India at 62, and it is included in the medium performing countries. PHI is a new composite indicator – the Poverty and Hunger Index (PHI) – developed to measure countries’ performance towards achieving MDG1 on halving poverty and hunger by 2015. The PHI combines all five official MDG1 indicators, including a) the proportion of population living on less than US$ 1/day, b) poverty gap ratio, c) share of the poorest quintile in national income or consumption, d) prevalence of underweight in children under five years of age, and d) the proportion of population undernourished.

UNDP Criticisms:

Dr. Mahbub ul Haq of Pakistan, the creator of the human development report, intended the HDI for use as a more reliable indicator of human condition than the gross domestic product (GDP) of various nations. It has not quite met the expectations of some in the human development community. There have been many criticisms of HDI, ranging from the use of stale and skewed data to clear disconnect between the HDI ranking and the ground reality as seen by most observers.

In a 2003 letter to the UNDP, the former director of the UNDP-funded Center for Research on Poverty Reduction and Income Distribution (CRRPRID), Dr Mushtaq A. Khan, challenged the basic data on which the UNDP had ranked Pakistan. Dr. Khan argued that using the factual data of life expectancy at 63.56 years, literacy rate at 44 percent, combined gross enrollment rate at 36 per cent and PPP GDP per capita at $1890, the country should have been ranked at 136th position for 2001, rather than 144th, "bringing it in the group of medium human development countries instead of the low human development countries". Rather than responding to the issues raised in Dr. Khan's letter, the UNDP had him fired from his post. More recently, there continues to be a discrepancy between the poverty figures reported by UNDP analysts in Islamabad and the figures used in HDI computation.

Recently, UNDP became part of a controversial report by Mumbai's municipality in claiming that “Dharavi is not Asia’s largest slum, Karachi’s Orangi Township has surpassed Dharavi.” It is clear that UNDP did not bother to check the facts on the ground before allowing itself to be used by Mumbai's BMC. The fact is that Orangi is nothing like Dharavi in terms of the quality of its housing or the services available to its residents. While Dharavi has only one toilet per 1440 residents and most of its residents use Mahim Creek, a local river, for urination and defecation, Orangi has an elaborate sanitation system built by its citizens. Under Orangi Pilot Project's guidance, between 1981 and 1993 Orangi residents installed sewers serving 72,070 of 94,122 houses. To achieve this, community members spent more than US$2 million of their own money, and OPP invested about US$150,000 in research and extension of new technologies. Orangi pilot project has been admired widely for its work with urban poor.

Foreign visitors to Pakistan and India have often reported that Pakistanis generally look better fed, clothed and housed than their counterparts in India. There is much less poverty on show in Pakistan than in India. However, the UNDP HDI reports continue to show India ranking higher than Pakistan. There could be many possible reasons for such a disconnect.

One example of the disconnect between the UNDP reports and ground reality can be found in the purchasing power parity calculations. The most recent real per capita income data was calculated and reported by Asian Development Bank based on a detailed study of a list of around 800 household and nonhousehold products in 2005 and early 2006 to compare real purchasing power for ADB's trans-national income comparison program (ICP). The ICP concluded that Pakistan had the highest per capita income at HK$ 13,528 in South Asia. It reported India’s per capita as HK $12,090.

In terms of being better fed, Pakistanis consume significantly more dairy products, sugar, wheat, meat, eggs and poultry on a per capita basis than Indians. Average Pakistani gets about 50% of daily calories from non-food-grain sources versus 33% for average Indians.

There is widespread hunger and malnutrition in all parts of India. India ranks 66th on the 2008 Global Hunger Index of 88 countries while Pakistan is slightly better at 61 and Bangladesh slightly worse at 70. The first India State Hunger Index (Ishi) report in 2008 found that Madhya Pradesh had the most severe level of hunger in India, comparable to Chad and Ethiopia. Four states — Punjab, Kerala, Haryana and Assam — fell in the 'serious' category. "Affluent" Gujarat, 13th on the Indian list is below Haiti, ranked 69. The authors said India's poor performance was primarily due to its relatively high levels of child malnutrition and under-nourishment resulting from calorie deficient diets.

According to Werner International, Pakistan's per capita consumption of textile fibers is about 4 Kg versus 2.8 Kg for India.

There is widespread homelessness in India with the urgent need for 72 million housing units. Pakistan, too, has a housing crisis and needs about 7 million additional housing units, according to the data presented at the World Bank Regional Conference on Housing last year.

India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country.

Lizette Burgers, chief of water and environment sanitation of the Unicef, recently said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia. A former Indian minister Mr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told the BBC that more than 65% of India's rural population defecated in the open, along roadsides, railway tracks and fields, generating huge amounts of excrement every day.


In spite of the many valid criticisms and the major flaws in UNDP's methodology and HDI computation and reporting, the HDI rankings are an important ballpark indicator of the state of human development in a nation or region. The report is a very useful document that the governments must take seriously and make the necessary efforts to improve their human resources by providing the required funding and support for proper nutrition, education and health care to ensure a better future for their people.

Pakistan has consistently scored lower on the HDI sub-index on education than its overall HDI index. It is obvious from the UNDP report and other sources that Pakistan's dismal record in enrolling and educating its young people, particularly girls, stands in the way of any significant positive development in the nation. The recent announcement of a new education policy that calls for more than doubling the education spending from about 3% to 7% of GDP is a step in the right direction. However, money alone will not solve the deep-seated problems of poor access to education, rampant corruption and the ghost schools that only exist on paper, that have simply lined the pockets of corrupt politicians and officials. Any additional money allocated must be part of a broader push for transparent and effective delivery of useful education to save the people from the curses of poverty, ignorance and extremism which are seriously hurting the nation.

Here's a video report about Pakistan's decrepit public education:

Related Links:

UNDP HDI: A Poor Representation of Human Development

HDI Ranking 2009

Housing in South Asia

Education, Society and Development

Pakistan Questions HDI Ranking

Pakistan's Decrepit Public School System

Globalis-Pakistan Human Development by Decades

Globalis-India Human Development by Decades

Pakistan Poverty Declines to 17.2%

Pakistanis Dietary Habits

UNDP Watch


Anonymous said...

here is a underfed looking hindu winning a nobel prize today

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "here is a underfed looking hindu winning a nobel prize today"

Ramakrishnan is an Indian-AMERICAN, not just any Indian. He is most likely from the urban middle class which is definitely better fed than the vast majority of rural or poor urban Indians.

It's a tale of two Indias. India has very wide and growing rich-poor gap, as measured by Gini coefficient. You can see easily obscene wealth juxtaposed with abject poverty in places like Mumbai.

Anonymous said...

Riaz, This guy was born and raised in India and completed his bachelors degree in India. He is not a second generation Indian in US.

How come none of the well fed muslims from any islamic country receive any nobel prize or for that matter don't shine in education like Hindus. Care to comment.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "How come none of the well fed muslims from any islamic country receive any nobel prize or for that matter don't shine in education like Hindus. Care to comment."

I don't see this as Hindu vs Muslim issue. I don't make any reference to religion in my post. But if you insist, please check out the following link to see the names of Muslim Nobel Laureates.


Anonymous said...

You may not make it a religion issue, but India vs Pakistan is very close to Hindu vs muslim comparison :-)

Now let us see the blog you mentioned.I am focusing on Nobel Prize for science/economics and not
on peace and literature.

Abdus-Salam was not a muslim. He was a Ahmediya and Pak
considers them as non muslims. In fact in order to get passport muslims from Pakistan has to declare that Ahmediyas are not muslims (remember there is no compulsion in religion -Quran).

BTW have you read the book by Dr.Hoodbhoy (ISLAM AND SCIENCE: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Ration). He has challenged the myth that islam at one time encouraged science and many scientific discovery was done by muslims. He is a devout atheist
and that's why I love him so much :-)

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "BTW have you read the book by Dr.Hoodbhoy (ISLAM AND SCIENCE: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Ration). He has challenged the myth that islam at one time encouraged science and many scientific discovery was done by muslims"

Yes, I have read it. And I disagree with you assertion that he "challenged the myth that islam at one time encouraged science"

In fact, he says it was Mutazalite movement, supported by the Abbasid court, within Islam that embraced reason and rationality and learned to reconcile faith with reason, that encouraged a lot of scientific discovery and innovation. He is very critical of Imam Ghazali who led the movement against the Mutazalites.

Anonymous said...

Ghazali was in 12th century. Are you implying that after 12th century Islam discouraged Islam?

Please be aware that most of the great muslim minds were deemed as heretics during their time. Omar Khayyam is a excellent example.
he was an agnostic and had no time for religious duties.

Anonymous said...

"You may not make it a religion issue, but India vs Pakistan is very close to Hindu vs muslim comparison :-)"

Anon, this is very wrong. If you say India is a Hindu country as it is the land where Hinduism originated, all right. But in terms of achievements in science, culture and industry, Muslims in India have contributed atleast proportionately if not more. Abdul Kalam are Azim Premji are famous examples. They are elites and exceptions, but the same goes for Hindus. Afterall, not every Hindus are as accomplished as Ambanis.

"He has challenged the myth that islam at one time encouraged science and many scientific discovery was done by muslims."

Whatever someone writes, it is not a myth. Myths and miracles do not happen consistently over several centuries, simulataneously across areas as geographically distant as Baghdad, Andalucia and Persia. Islam at that time did not consider scientific knowledge as a threat to faith. This was at the time when Catholic church was burning anyone who said that earth was round. Even in cultural area, Muslims were significantly advanced - it was Akbar who first tried to ban your Sati system.

"Riaz, This guy was born and raised in India and completed his bachelors degree in India. He is not a second generation Indian in US."

While this is something that I as an Indian am proud of, he is an American for all practical reasons. Amartya Sen could be called more Indian as he atleast has some contacts with India. Afterall, there must be some reason why this underfed looking fellow decided to suffer as a vegetarian in a country where even French fries have beef oil in it.

Zen, Munich, Germany

Anonymous said...

Counting Abdul Kalam as a muslim is really funny given that Rafiq Zakaria made lot of noise about Kalam being taken as a muslim.

Read this amusing article

Also you seem to indicate that muslims have done well in India. I am not sure how many pakistanis will agree with that, including Riaz.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece from Yahoo India on HDI in South Asia:

Human Development Index (HDI) ranking of eight major economies of South Asia in the 2009 Human Development Report, released earlier this week, show a dismal record with all countries relegated to the third category of medium development states with the global rankings falling in the second half of the listings of 182 countries. Topping the ranking list of the South Asian nations in 2007, the date for which comprehensive data was available, was Maldives (95), followed by Sri Lanka (102), Bhutan (132), India (134), Pakistan (141), Nepal (144), Bangladesh (146) and Afghanistan (182). The only positive trend was that four out of the eight South Asian nations made positive gains moving up the rungs, while the others remained stable. The highest gains were made by Maldives and Bangladesh both countries moving up by two rungs, while Bhutan and Pakistan improved their ranking by just one position. The worst aspect of the India s low HDI ranking was its dismal record in even a core area like life expectancy. Life expectancy at birth in India was only 63.4 years, which pushed it down in the last but one category, just above Afghanistan where the life expectancy was a dismal 43.6 years. South Asian countries scoring above India in life expectancy included Bhutan and Bangladesh (65.7 years each), Pakistan (66.2 years), Nepal (66.3 years), Maldives (71.1 years) and even the civil war hit Sri Lanka (74 years). India s record on life expectancy is made worse by the low rates of survival of young persons. The estimates show that the probability of dying before the age of 40 is among the highest in India, with 15.5% of the cohort loosing their lives. This is almost three times the level of mortality in Sri Lanka where only 5.5% of the population fail to cross the 40-age mark. Afghanistan fared the worst where the chances of survival over 40 was worst with almost 40% of the persons dying before attaining this age. What makes matters even worse is that the prospects of improving chances of survival of the younger age groups and improving overall life expectancy may continue to be hampered by its lackadaisical approach to improving child welfare, especially the nutritional levels. A comparison of the statistics on underweight children in South Asia show that India s record was among the worst, with 46% of the children underweight, a record which was only next to that of Bangladesh where the share of underweight children was a notch higher at 48%. India s poor record in meeting child nutrition standards are surprising given that even countries like Bhutan have been able to reduce its share of under-weight children to less than half the levels of India.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's more from Yahoo India on HDI in South Asia:

India s 66% record in adult literacy was relatively better with the country ranking third in South Asia, but much below Maldives (97%) and Sri Lanka (90.8%). Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh had a literacy rate in the 50%-plus range. But the long-term prospects of moving up the rungs on this indicator among other South Asian nations are not very bright given the low gross enrolment rate. As in the case of other indicators, India s gross enrolment rate of 61% fell short to that of Sri Lanka ( 68.7%) and Maldives (68.7%), but was still better than that of other nations. One reason for this dismal scenario is India s ability to catch up wealth generation as at least three of the South Asian nations have higher per capita incomes on a purchasing power parity basis. India s PPP per capita income of $2,753 was sizably lower than that of much smaller neighbours like Sri Lanka ($4,243), Bhutan ($4,837) and Maldives ($5,196). Nepal ranked lowest in this category with its PPP per capita income of $1,049 being even lower than that of Afghanistan ($1,054). Making matters worse on the income front is the large disparity in the earnings between male and female workers. The ratio of female to male incomes in India was 32%, which was lower than that of other South Asian nations like Nepal (61%), Sri Lanka (56%), Maldives (54%), Bangladesh (51%) and Bhutan (39%). The only nations that had a worse ratio of male to female income were Afghanistan (24%) and Pakistan (18%).

"OM" said...

The debate is a classic representation of the sub continent mindset that my neighbour iis my benchmark for comparing my happiness and deprivation. The fact is that all the Nations Bangladesh, India, Pakistan are poorly ranked and need to urgently address the causes of poverty other wise we will become a huge island of deprivation. We have to go miles before we can proudly say that yes all our people have a decent life. We should not be misled by the numbers as even if one child dies of malnourishment, sanitation related or any other preventable death ; it is a death and the pain can only be realised by the family; it is not stastics but it is a death a fact to be more deeply understood only by those who have lost their loved ones. Just imagine if that one number of stastics is your chuild would the reaction be the same.

Lets join hands and take vow that we are goinf to learn from the successes of each other and try to make this world a better place to live and would not rest till the time it happens for everybody.

Anonymous said...

OM, That comparison with neighbor is done mostly by Pakistanis. Just read their newspapers and compare it with Indian newspapers.
Even this blog talks more about India than Pakistan. The term South Asia is used mostly by Pakistanis because the world hardly cares about Pakistan. It is India which has far greater mind share.
Once India took off economically in the last two decades, Pakistan, instead of competing with India on economic front, chose the easy way out. Deride India's failings and prove that Pak has not done bad. Pakistan has rudimentary industry and practically no exports of value added items (exports of Mangoes, Pickles hardly count as a prowess of a country).
Sad. If Pak chose to invest in education and make Pakistanis compete with India in service and manufacturing industry, it would have done wonders to their youth.
Instead they are in top ten failed nations.

Anonymous said...


"Counting Abdul Kalam as a muslim is really funny given that Rafiq Zakaria made lot of noise about Kalam being taken as a muslim."

Rafiq Zakaria is no authority. When we talk about achievements outside religious area, it is normally irrelevant how practicing one is. Einstein was a Jew, Nehru was a Hindu etc. though neither cared much about their religion or race. But nevertheless Rafiq was in fact taking great pains to put his point in a convoluted manner that adulation of Kalam by most Hindus are thanks to his vulgar admiration of Gita and his keeping distance away from Muslims. I would have respected Kalam a lot more had he opened his mouth against genocide in Gujarath. Not sure whether he lacked the moral courage or he did not find it wrong at all. Either way, this shows that in the bigoted atmosphere of subcontinent, scientific knowledge alone cannot improve quality of thinking.

"Also you seem to indicate that muslims have done well in India. I am not sure how many pakistanis will agree with that, including Riaz."

My point was, despite the attempts by Hindu supremacists to belittle the contribution of Indian Muslims, they in fact owe a lot to Muslims in India one way or other. Now if I were to opine on Muslims' status in India - statistically it is very bad and it is a fact that Muslims suffer casual discrimination in everything from employment to housing to financing possibilities. Nevertheless, noone can deny many of the genuine efforts of Hindu humanists and of our secular constitution to improve the situation of Muslims. In any case, Pakistanis themselves can't treat each other fairly, so they are least qualified to comment on this.

Zen, Munich, Germany

Anonymous said...

As a lover of indian classical music I will be the last person to deny the contribution of muslims in indian classical field. But at the same time I would also like to point out some of these muslim musicians were only muslims by birth. Ustaad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (I rate him the best vocal singer I have ever heard) migrated to Pak after indepedence and came back soon, bitterly disappointed. Ali Akbar Khan was more of a hindu than muslim. His son eventually converted to Hinduism.

The point is that when one talks of contribution of muslims like these, if possible, one should also talk how much of a muslim were they.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...


"The point is that when one talks of contribution of muslims like these, if possible, one should also talk how much of a muslim were they."

This may be true - but as I said, when we talk about cultural or scientific achievements, how much of a practicing Muslim/Hindu they are is not relevant. Do you think whether all the Hindu entrepreneurs in USA go to temple regularly or avoid beaf steaks? Nevertheless they are called Hindus. Muslim classical singers and poets in India have consistently shown some affinity towards native Hindu culture - there is nothing wrong in it. Hindustani Music is in fact an amalgamation of Persian music and classical Hindu music. Whether they are devout Muslims or not, culturally they are Muslims.(ie, Biriyani, Urdu, Ghazals etc. though some of them also drink a lot). In fact some of them like Rafi were devout as well.

Anonymous said...

"Hindustani Music is in fact an amalgamation of Persian music and classical Hindu music."

By writing this it is obvious that you have no idea about classical hindustani music. Hindustani classic music predates islam. It is an out and out indian form of music with some great muslim artists in it. Muslims try to exaggerate their contribution by claiming Hindustani music as their own invention. Not a single raaga has any islamic origins. Also consider that Carnatic music share lot of grammer with Hindustani classical music and no one suggests that Carnatic music is also influenced by muslims.
Note: Muslims have created other great form of music like Qawallis, naat or Ghazals. This is a different matter.

During the first few decades, Pakistan was bit open to classical music. However they tried to islamazie it by changing the name of raagas. Raag Chandrakauns became Chaandkauns. Raag Aahir Bhairav became Kabir Bhairav. Obviously they were too ashamed to show the hindu origins of classical music. Eventually Pakistan killed indian classical music.

"In fact some of them like Rafi were devout as well."

Yes. Rafi was great. He had no problem singing Hindu Bhajans and the muslim community of India were irked by it and were vocal about it too.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...


"Muslims try to exaggerate their contribution by claiming Hindustani music as their own invention"

There is no need to exaggerate, no need to undermine either. I never said that it was "invented" by Muslims - look up the meaning of the word "amalgamation" as I put it.

"Also consider that Carnatic music share lot of grammer with Hindustani classical music and no one suggests that Carnatic music is also influenced by muslims."

If noone suggests, what is your point? I am from South India and am trained in Violin in carnatic style. I don't know many North Indians who really appreciate South Indian music whole heartedly. South India was never really ruled by Muslims and that is partly the reason why the culture is so monilithic with nothing to eat other than Sambar. Whether you like the fact that you were ruled by Muslims or not, lot of cultural things including Hindustani music and Mughlai food have been nurtured by Muslim rulers even though there was already some base. If you cant come to terms with it, then you have the onus of trying to deny that by going to ridiculous extend such as claiming that TajMahal was a temple called TejoMahalay, Hindus were living in a golden age until foreigners came etc.

"Yes. Rafi was great. He had no problem singing Hindu Bhajans and the muslim community of India were irked by it and were vocal about it too."

Muslims in general are proud of him. If he becomes great in Hindu eyes only because he sang Hindu Bhajans, that shows the deep religious blindness among some Hindus. In fact, the vulgar adulation that Kalam enjoys among Hindus as a "great scientist" is also due to his admiration of Hinduism - it is not that Kalam invented how to split atoms or that he invented anything original. If Muslims become succesful, then the focus is how to prove that they are bad Muslims so that the hypothetical prejudice that Islam cannot go well with science and arts can be proven.

Riaz Haq said...

Zen: "There is no need to exaggerate, no need to undermine either. I never said that it was "invented" by Muslims - look up the meaning of the word "amalgamation" as I put it."

I agree with you description of Indo-Pak culture as "amalgamation" and "Indo-Persian", as does Indian writer Aakar Patel, who recently wrote as follows:

... it must let loose its secret weapon on the Taliban. And that is our culture, our Indo-Persian heritage. We built it. We own it; we should own up to it.

Forget Tarana-e-Milli. Let’s sing Tarana-e-Hind-o-Pak. Allama Iqbal would approve, and so, I suspect, would Jinnah.


Anonymous said...

"I agree with you description of Indo-Pak culture as "amalgamation" and "Indo-Persian", as does Indian writer Aakar Patel, who recently wrote as follows: "

And it also looks like that the indo part is more tolerable part of it, with so much of hate and bloodshed going on in pakistan.

zen: I won't disagree with you about muslim contribution. C'mon, they ruled us for around 1000 yrs and there has to be some amalgamation of it. What I am disagreeing is the 'invention' of credits to muslims. It is as amusing as calling Taj Mahal as a
original Hindu temple.

One pakistani was trying to argue with me that Pakistani follow sufism (as if it is a seperate religion by istself). Per him it was tolerable sufism which made his ancestors convert from hinduism to islam. I just asked one question "what is the stand of sufism on aethiest and apostates. Does Sufism allow anyone to leave Islam/Sufism on his free will".
Well, as expected, he never replied.

So much for tolerance of sufism.
Is it any surprise that there is not a single case known of a pakistani muslim leaving islam in pakistan and converting to other religion.

Anonymous said...

riaz, on a different note, for the last few days by browser is warning me that this site has no certificate. just FYI

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "for the last few days by browser is warning me that this site has no certificate."

Which browser and version are you using? I use both IE and FF (and iPhone Safari) and don't see any warning.

Anonymous said...

I am using IE8 on Windows Vista
and it given me warning everytime
I log on here. I have to answer Yes
to dialog box for me to continue.

Just for checking I used FF and it
shows a red dot icon at the lower right corner. Clicking on it tells
"part of this page was not encrypted before trasmitted over the internet..":

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "I am using IE8 on Windows Vista
and it given me warning everytime
I log on here. I have t.."

Thanks. I'll look into it.

Meanwhile, see if upgrading your browser helps. May be your browser is not recognizing the valid certificate.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about healthcare for mothers giving birth in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD- Pakistan ranks 72 among 75 less-developed countries as the best places to be a mother, in the same list, Sri Lanka ranks 54 and India ranks 70.
These facts were revealed on Saturday in the 10th annual Mothers’ Index issued by “Save the Children”.The global ranking is highlighted in the organization’s State of the World’s Mothers 2009 report, which focuses on the link between investing in early learning opportunities for young children and success in school. The Mothers’ Index was based on an analysis of indicators of women and children’s health educational, economic status and well being.
The top-10 countries, in general, have very high scores for mothers and children’s health, while the 10 bottom-ranked countries are a reverse image, performing poorly on all indicators. The report intensely presented comparisons of countries in the Mothers Index. In the overall global Mothers Index, Sweden ranks first in the world and Nigeria the last. According to report a typical woman in Pakistan has less than six years of schooling versus a typical woman in India who receives nine years and 12 years in Sri Lanka of formal education.
It also stated that 1 child in 10 does not reach his or her 5th birthday in Pakistan and in Sweden, only 1 child in 333 dies before age of 5.
“Fewer than 39 percent of births are attended by skilled health personnel in Pakistan; 99 percent of births are attended by skilled health personnel in Sri Lanka”, the report further noted. It also informed that female life expectancy in Pakistan is 66, 44 in Afghanistan, 67 in India and 76 in Sri Lanka. While addressing at the occasion Charles MacCormack, President and CEO of “Save the Children” gave detailed description regarding key findings of report.

Riaz Haq said...

For some of the posters here, let me share with you what Sean-Paul Kelly, a traveler-blogger, thinks of India, based on the recent NY Times story on "India's Innovation Envy":

Indians, it seems, aren’t lacking in the hyper-patriotic, and India certainly doesn’t lack its boosters in the West. Alas, some folks are beginning to see the light:

"BANGALORE, India — In the United States and Europe, people worry that their well-paying, high-skill jobs will be, in a word, “Bangalored” — shipped off to India.

People here are also worried about the future. They fret that Bangalore, and India more broadly, will remain a low-cost satellite office of the West for the foreseeable future — more Scranton, Pa., in the American television series “The Office,” than Silicon Valley."

Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley-Asia has called this wage arbitrage (Roach happens to be one of the few American economists that gets it right on India). And Americans are right to worry about this. It’s put downward pressure on services as varied as call-centers and tech support, to financial news reporting, X-ray and MRI interpretation and accounting. I would be especially worried if I were an accountant. But then again, many of the big firm accountants need not be worried, as their shilling game for Wall Street will protect them. For a time.

"Even as the rest of the world has come to admire, envy and fear India’s outsourcing business and its technological prowess, many Indians are disappointed that the country has not quickly moved up to more ambitious and lucrative work from answering phones or writing software. Why, they worry, hasn’t India produced a Google or an Apple?"

Wait a second. India does not have any technological prowess in the true sense of the word. After all, if they did, why would the Ambassador, a car model over fifty years old, made of the heaviest steel imaginable, and horribly inefficient be the best selling domestically produced car in India, still. The Nano notwithstanding.

"Innovation is hard to measure, but academics who study it say India has the potential to create trend-setting products but is not yet doing so. Indians are granted about half as many American patents for inventions as people and firms in Israel and China. The country’s corporate and government spending on research and development significantly lags behind that of other nations. And venture capitalists finance far fewer companies here than they do elsewhere."

Re-read that graph closely and you’ll begin to get an idea of the hurdles India faces. And hurdles it is doing nothing, absolutely nothing to overcome. Instead of using its domestic capital for something like infrastructure building, local elites continue to siphon it all off and live behind huge fenced in compounds paying dalits pitiful, barely life-sustaining wages.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's traveler-blogger Sean-Paul Kelly talking about lack of sanitation in India:

In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I don't know how cultural the filth is, but it's really beyond anything I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and excrement are like a garbage dump. Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to make me physically ill. Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels churning was an all to common experience in India. Dung, be it goat, cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and defecating anywhere, in broad daylight. Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it. Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and far to few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how dangerous the air is for one's health, not how good it is. People casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads. The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey were Trivandrum--the capital of Kerala--and Calicut. I don't know why this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will cut into India's productivity, if it already hasn't. The pollution will hobble India's growth path, if that indeed is what the country wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a country, in the small 'c' sense.)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on homeless deaths from cold in India:

Scores die in India every year, being ill-equipped to deal with extreme cold.

Estimates of the number of dead vary from 25 to 100 but these figures cannot be confirmed at present.

Fog in central Punjab region in neighbouring Pakistan has also shut down highways and affected railway and flight schedules.

A number of people have been injured in some minor accidents due to fog on Monday morning, the BBC's M Ilyas Khan says.

Intense cold

Heavy fog and a cold wave have disrupted life across northern India with temperatures dropping to zero degree Celsius in several places, including the city of Amritsar in Punjab.

Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are among the northern states which have been hit by intensely cold weather.

In Uttar Pradesh, scores of homeless people have died after being exposed to the intense cold.

The victims were mostly poor people who were sleeping on the streets or out in the open.

There are few homeless shelters in Indian cities and towns and although the authorities have distributed blankets and firewood, their efforts have been inadequate in the face of the extreme cold, says the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi.

Poor visibility because of dense fog has also affected rail and air traffic in the region with several flights and trains cancelled, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded.

On Saturday, the fog caused two separate train accidents in Uttar Pradesh leaving 10 people dead and nearly 50 injured.

Riaz Haq said...

There are an estimated 4.5 million Indian workers in just the GCC countries, about half of them in the UAE, according to the Financial Times.

The current difficulties in Dubai are exposing India's vulnerability to the possible economic collapse in the Gulf region. The fears are deepening that remittances, worth about $27bn a year, accounting for over 50% of total remittance inflows, from the Gulf to India. The United Arab Emirates is also one of India’s most important export destinations, accounting for about $17.5bn in trade or 10 per cent of India’s merchandise exports.

In spite of repeated tales of horror by Indian workers, the Islamic Gulf nations remain a powerful magnet for Indians seeking a way out of abject poverty and deprivation at home.

The village of Akhopur is in the district of Siwan in Bihar, India- from where about 75,000 people work in the Gulf. Most work as masons, helpers, carpenters, fitters and drivers, according to a recent story by the BBC.

They often labor in abysmal conditions with little or no facilities, but many say they can at least earn a living since opportunities back home are non-existent.

In Akhopur and neighboring villages of Bindusar, Orma and Khalispur, every household has at least two people working in the Gulf.

In the wake of recent Dubai troubles, the flow of returnees is ever growing, raising fear of rising h unger and poverty in resurgent India.

Often motivated by religious bigotry rather than than genuine concern, some Indians point to the unacceptable and deplorable treatment of the poor Indian workers in the "Arbi land".

But the real question is why are the Indian workers forced to accept degrading treatment in foreign lands?

Why is resurgent India so badly failing its people?

Why are 42% of Indians forced to live on less than $1.25 a day?

Why does Indian official Syeda Hameed believe "countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better" than India in terms of meeting basic nutritional needs of their children?

Why have an estimated 200,000 farmers in India committed suicide in the last ten years?

Why are 46% of India's children malnourished?

Why does the world call India a nutriti onal weakling?

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a Washington Post story about education deficits in Pakistan:

"If the people get education, the elite would be threatened," said Khadim Hussain, coordinator of the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy and a professor at Islamabad's Bahria University. "If they make education available, the security establishment's ideology may be at risk."

That ideology, Hussain said, involves the belief that non-Muslim nations are out to destroy Pakistan and that the army is the only protection Pakistanis have from certain annihilation. Those notions are emphasized at every level in the schools, with students focused on memorizing the names of Pakistan's military heroes and the sayings of the prophet Muhammad, but not learning the basics of algebra or biology, he said.

The nature of the education system is reflected in popular attitudes toward the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups that in recent months have carried out dozens of suicide bombings in Pakistan, many of them targeting civilians.

Although the groups in many cases have publicly asserted responsibility for the attacks, a large percentage of the population here refuses to believe that Muslims could be responsible for such horrific crimes, choosing to believe that India, Israel or the United States is behind the violence. When Hussain challenges graduate-level students for proof, they accuse him of being part of the plot, he said.

Top government officials have little incentive to change that, experts here say. Although the vast majority of Pakistanis must choose between the public schools or madrassas for their children, Pakistan's well-to-do can send their kids to private schools, many of which are considered world-class.

Javed Ashraf Qazi, a former Pakistani education minister, said the United States has not helped by frittering away much of its assistance budget on poorly defined programs, such as conflict-resolution training, which he said leave no enduring impact. What Pakistan really needs, he said, is a network of vocational training institutes that can prepare students for the workplace.

"What would help is something that is lasting," he said. "The U.S. is spending more money, but spending it in a way that it does not leave any impact."

But Pervez Hoodbhoy, a noted nuclear physicist at Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University and a longtime proponent of education reform, said Pakistan needs something more fundamental.

"I don't think it's a matter of money. The more you throw at the system, the faster it leaks out," he said. "There has to be a desire to improve. The U.S. can't create that desire. When Pakistanis feel they need a different kind of education system, that's when it will improve."

Riaz Haq said...

According to UNICEF, scientific evidence available today tells us that in India alone more than 1 million child lives could be saved from scaling up known and proven cost effective interventions. With over 240 million children under the age of five, India contributes 25 percent of the world’s child deaths. It is evident that a major turnaround in India will ensure a significant impact globally!

The Education For All-Global Monitoring Report, released recently, says that out of the total 759 million illiterate adults in the world, India still has the highest number. “Over half of the illiterate adults live in just four countries: Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan,” the report said, adding the progress has been “painfully slow” and threatens to obstruct the Millennium Development Goals.

Riaz Haq said...

One out of every three illiterate adults in the world is an Indian, according to UNESCO.

One out very two hungry persons in the world is an Indian, according to World Food Program.

Almost one out two Indians live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.

And yet, India spends $30 billion on defense, and just increased the defense budget by 32% this year.

Here are some more recent comparative indicators in South Asia:


Population living under $1.25 a day - India: 41.6% Pakistan: 22.6% Source: UNDP

Underweight Children Under Five (in percent) Pakistan 38% India 46% Source: UNICEF

Life expectancy at birth (years), 2007 India: 63.4 Pakistan: 66.2 Source: HDR2009


Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, male Pak istan: 80% India 87% Source: UNICEF

Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, female Pak istan 60% India 77% Source: UNICEF


GDP per capita (US$), 2008 Pak:$1000-1022 India $1017-1100

Child Protection:

Child marriage under 15-years ; 1998–2007*, total Pak istan - 32% India - 47% Source: UNICEF

Under-5 mortality rate per 1000 live births (2007), Value Pakistan - 90 India 72 Source: UNICEF

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a British report of India complaining about "poverty porn":

Diplomatic officials are preparing to lodge a complaint with Ofcom, the media watchdog, about the content of McCloud's Channel 4 series, Slumming It.

In the two-part documentary, the Grand Designs host visited Mumbai's squalid Dharavi slum. It showed children living amongst open sewers, dead rats and toxic waste, and residents scavenging on the city's rubbish dump.

Sources say the Indian High Commission in London granted a filming permit in the belief that McCloud was making a programme highlighting Mumbai's architectural history, and officials were horrified to see the end result.

"We thought it would be about the architecture of Mumbai but it was only about slums, nothing else. He was showing dirty sewage and dead rats, children playing amongst rubbish and people living in these small rooms. He never talked about architecture at all.

"This was poverty porn made to get ratings, and we are upset," the source said.

"Many people know India but for people who don't travel, they will think all of India is like this. Of course it will affect our tourism. It is not representative at all.

"We are not saying, 'Don't show Dharavi', but the show was not balanced. There is so much more to Mumbai and so much more to India."

The original synopsis submitted by the programme-makers said: "Kevin McCloud's passions are buildings and people and he will explore the architecture of Mumbai... Maharashtrian, British, Gothic and post-modern."

The source said: "When the production company applied, they said the name of the documentary was going to be Grand Designs. They said it was part of a 'celebration of all things India' and that he would look at different kinds of architecture. He didn't do any of this.

"Only occasionally did he mention the community spirit and the low crime rate and the fact that rubbish is recycled there.

"People forget that this nation is 60 years old. We are a young nation and it's not easy to bring 300 million people out of poverty just like that."

Slumming It was part of Channel 4's ongoing Indian Winter season. Of the five programmes shown so far, four have been set in the Mumbai slums, including a 'Slumdog' version of The Secret Millionaire.

The source accused Channel 4 of "cashing in on the success of Slumdog Millionaire", the Oscar-winning film which kicked off the season.

McCloud has praised the community spirit in Dharavi, claiming that the British government could use it as a model for "social sustainability". The Prince of Wales has hailed Dharavi as a model for urban planning.

In a joint statement, Channel 4 and the production company, talkbackThames, said: "We have not received a complaint from the India High Commission. The programme explores if city planners and architects can learn from the way Asia’s biggest slum has evolved and developed high levels of sustainability. Kevin McCloud follows everyday life in Dharavi and the film is a balanced and insightful account of his experience there.

"While it raises issues such as acute levels of poverty and the lack of sanitation, the programme also highlights many positive aspects of life in Dharavi such as the real sense of community as well as low levels of crime and unemployment. We believe that the film raises some important points around the issues of poverty, sustainability and city planning and is clearly in the public interest.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about Kerala's economy and social indicators:

Kerala defies all stereotypes of a "socially backward" Indian state - swathes of people living in abject poverty, men outnumbering women because of female foeticide, internecine caste politics.

Many of its social indicators are on par with the developed world and it has the highest human development index in India.

It also has the highest literacy rate (more than 90%) and life expectancy in India, lowest infant mortality, lowest school drop-out rate, and a fairly prosperous countryside.

That's not all.

In contrast to India's more prosperous states, like Punjab and Haryana, Kerala can boast a very healthy gender ratio - women outnumber men here.

Life expectancy for women is also higher than for men, as in most developed countries. Thanks to a matrilineal society, women, by and large, are more empowered than in most places in India.

When it comes to low population growth, Kerala competes with Europe and the US. And all but two districts of the state have a lower fertility rate than that needed to maintain current population levels.
And thanks to pioneering land reforms initiated by a Communist government in the late 1950s, the levels of rural poverty here are the lowest in India. Decent state-funded health care and education even made it the best welfare state in India.

Yet, today, Kerala is a straggler economy almost entirely dependent on tourism and remittances sent back by two million of its people who live and work abroad, mostly in the Gulf.

Joblessness is rife due to the lack of a robust manufacturing base - more than 15% in urban areas, three times the national average. More than 30 million people live in the densely populated state, a third of which is covered by forests

More people here are taking their lives than anywhere else in India. Alcoholism is a dire social problem - the state has India's highest per capita alcohol consumption. People migrate because there are no jobs at home.
Clearly, Kerala needs a new contract between the state and its people to move ahead and build upon its enviable gains.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC commentary by Soutik Biswas on India's "rights revolution":

Ensuring the basics in life remains the biggest challenge for India, six decades after independence.

Take food. Some 43% of Indian children younger than five are underweight - far above the global average of 25% or sub-Saharan Africa's 28%. India is a lowly 65th among 84 countries in the Global Hunger Index. Half of the world's hungry people live in India.

So the proposed right to food, entitling a poor family to 25kg of rice or wheat at three rupees (seven cents) a kilogram is good news. The bad news is that identifying the deserving poor is a challenge - there are four different government estimates of the very poor or below poverty line (BPL) people floating around. States may inflate numbers of beneficiaries to corner more federal benefits. Then there is the notoriously leaky public distribution system, from where food is often siphoned off by a triad of low-level bureaucrats, shop owners and middlemen.

Nobody can deny that the right to education - every child aged 6-14 can demand free schooling - is critical: an estimated eight million children in that age group do not attend school in India. India's 61% literacy rate lags behind Kenya's 85%. But critics point to a lack of teachers - India would need more than a million teachers just to implement the right - and say there are simply not enough schools to cope with the increased demand.

Rights don't work miracles. But activists say they are an urgent social intervention to empower the poor in a highly iniquitous society, where it is difficult for the poor to access officials to air their grievances and secure their entitlements. "In a hierarchical society, rights-based movements are a way of moving towards equality," says leading political scientist Mahesh Rangarajan. Also, they put pressure on the state to deliver - the right to information, despite glitches, is making government more accountable.

Studies show that sensitive political and bureaucratic leadership combined with grassroots awareness and an engaged local media can translate rights into reality and improve the lives of the poor. Activists point out that money is not a problem - the economy is doing well, revenues are buoyant, federal health and education outlays have been increased. The government has pledged more than $5bn to send 10 million poor children to school.

The cynicism over rights mainly comes from India's burgeoning educated upper middle class. It is mostly not engaged with public institutions at all - its members rarely serve in the lower ranks of the armed forces, teach in state schools or work for the government. Yes, there are valid concerns about whether the state has the capacity to deliver on rights. Yes, the Indian state continues to focus on maintaining law and order and collecting revenue. Delivering services is not its strength. Rights could actually help it move towards a functioning welfare state. I would like to hear stories from you - and people you may know - who are reaping the benefits of the rights revolution.

Riaz Haq said...

In rural Pakistan where about 70% of Pakistanis live, people spend 55% of their income on food, according to a World Resources Institute (WRI) report.

The bottom two BOP (Bottom of Income Pyramid) groups alone account for more than 50% of national food spending in Pakistan. Average annual food spending per household in the BOP in Pakistan is $2,643. While BOP3000 households have 6 times as much income on average, they outspend BOP500 households in the food market by a ratio of only 2:1 in Cameroon, 2.3:1 in South Africa and Pakistan, 2.4:1 in Kazakhstan, 1.9:1 in Uzbekistan, and 3:1 in Peru.

Currently, food inflation in Pakistan is running at 15.49 percent, hitting the poor the hardest.

According to a recent Daily Times report, Non-perishable food item prices increased 14.76 percent whereas perishable food items recorded 21.30 percent increase in their prices.

Fuel & lighting index rose 20.19 percent during January this over the last year whereas house rent index posted 13.38 increase this month.

Transport & communication index rose 9.43 percent, education expenses increased 13.68 percent and medical expenses increased 5.88 percent.

The detailed analysis of the SPI prices for Jan-10 reveals that few items, within the food category, were observed to post over 100bps MoM increase in prices. Sugar (1.92 percent weight in the CPI) remained exceptional with 19 percent MoM increase and food prices (40.3 percent weight in the CPI) contributed passively this time around to the CPI in Jan-10 due to being relatively stable.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on US plans to help Pakistan's power sector:

LAHORE: Help for Pakistan’s energy sector will be a top priority in plans for direct US investment in the country under the Kerry-Lugar Bill, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr Rajiv Shah, said here on Wednesday.

“The US will help refurbish three thermal and one hydel power plant that will add some 4,500MW to the national grid,” Mr Shah said while talking to this correspondent at Lahore airport before leaving for Islamabad. USAID’s Pakistan Mission Director Robert Wilson was also present.

Dr Shah said the US would invest directly in Pakistani institutions in a wide range of areas. “It is time to take immediate action to aggressively meet education and health needs also.”

He dispelled a perception that a large part of the funding would go to consultants and contractors in the United States. “It will be utilised in water, education, health and agriculture sectors that are in tremendous need of development through short-, medium- and long-term infrastructural reforms.”

He said the initiatives would help create employment, especially in tribal areas where small and medium projects relating to infrastructure development, livelihood support and technology transfer would be launched.

The quality of education would be improved through teachers’ training, curriculum development programmes and provision of textbooks in other less developed areas, especially southern Punjab, he said.

In health sector, he said, the focus would be on strengthening professional institutions and USAID would arrange for capacity building of lady health workers and paramedical staff and higher education of physicians.

Dr Shah said reinvestment in agricultural research would be another major area of attention. “We are proud to be partners in research activities at the agriculture universities of Faisalabad and Rawalpindi. Now plans are afoot to improve training facilities and marketing skills of farmers as agriculture contributes more than 25 per cent to Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product.

“We will work on the critical issue of water with programmes aimed at helping Pakistan better manage its water resources to ensure maximum water access to the people.”

Dr Shah said: “President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton launched strategic dialogue with Pakistan to make sure that our relationship is a broad and deep partnership defined by mutual respect and cooperation in a broad range of areas, especially energy, water, education and health sectors that are very important for development of cooperation.

“This trip was really an effort to follow up that strategic dialogue. We are here to meet Pakistani leaders in government, private sector and civil society. We also have a chance to meet professors at universities and hold discussions to explore effective means and ways to work together.”

Iftikhar A. Khan adds from Islamabad: Addressing a press conference in the federal capital, Dr Shah said aid to Pakistan was not tied to the country’s performance in stemming militancy. He underlined the need for financial management control to ensure that the aid was spent to achieve the defined objectives.

He said the US had significantly enhanced investment portfolio for Pakistan without setting any specific conditions.

He said the purpose of his visit was to learn about priorities in development and put in place many principles discussed during the recent round of strategic dialogue in Washington.

Dr Shah hinted at the possibility of helping Pakistan augment its water reservoirs. “We are looking at a broad range of options and will do everything which makes economic sense.” He said the US was working with other donors and international partners to help Pakistan improve its hydro infrastructure.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting commentary by Sudha Ramachandra about India's future prospects:

The populations of Europe and Japan are already graying, and the working-age populations of the United States and China are projected to shrink too in the next two decades. By 2020 the US will be short 17 million people of working age, China 10 million, Japan 9 million and Russia 6 million. However, India will have a surplus of 47 million people, giving the country a competitive edge in labor costs, which will be sustainable up to 2050, according to a study by Goldman Sachs.

Economists say India will catch up with the Chinese economy beginning in 2030, when the latter could cool off as the result of an aging population. "The window of opportunity offered by a population bulge has clearly opened for India," points out noted economist C P Chandrasekhar of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. After decades of evoking despair, India's demographic profile is finally beginning to stir hope.

But not everyone views the population bulge with such optimism. Some analysts say it is not enough to have a young population. The working-age population needs to be healthy and literate.

India's score on this, while improving, is certainly not inspiring. About 50% of all Indian children are undernourished, a large percentage of them born with protein deficiency (which affects brain development and learning capacity, among other things). This is hardly the ideal foundation for a productive workforce, as the likelihood of a malnourished child growing up to be an able adult is rather dim.

There is also the question of whether the population has the skills and knowledge to take on India's future work. Literacy has improved dramatically over the years - just 14% of the population was literate in 1947 versus about 64.8% today - but many who are classified as literate can barely read or write. And 40% of those who enroll in primary schools drop out by age 10. The curriculum in the schools, especially the government-run ones, does not prepare the child for the domestic job market, let alone the global one. The huge "workforce" might not be qualified to do the work.

Moreover, India's rich and educated classes are preferring to have small families, so the additions to the population are coming largely from the poor, illiterate sections in society. Nicholas Eberstadt, who researches demographics at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, points out that while India's overall population profile will remain relatively youthful, "this is an arithmetic expression averaging diverse components of a vast nation. Closer examination reveals two demographically distinct Indias: the north that stays remarkably young over the next 20 years, and a south already graying rapidly due to low fertility."

Riaz Haq said...

India's official poverty measure has long been based solely upon the ability to purchase a minimum recommended daily diet of 2,400 kilocalories (kcal) in rural areas where about 70 percent of people live, and 2,100 kcal in urban areas. Rural areas usually have higher kcal requirements because of greater physical activity among rural residents. The National Planning Commission, which is responsible for the estimate, currently estimates that a monthly income of about Rs. 356 (about US$7.74) per person is needed to provide the required diet in rural areas and Rs. 539 in urban areas. Factors such as housing, health care, and transportation are not taken into account in the poverty estimates, according to demographers Carl Haub and O.P Sharma.

Riaz Haq said...

Poverty is one of the factors that drives child marriages in India. It's cheaper to marry off a girl child than an adult woman.

A recent ODI report highlighting India's progress toward MDGs and putting India in the top 20.

Looking at the detailed report, however, it clearly highlights Pakistan along with China in the top 10 in achieving poverty reduction goal MDG1, the most important of MDGs. There is no mention of India on this list in table 4.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about Brookings finding that madrassas are not a major threat in Pakistan:

Islamic schools - or madrassas - in Pakistan are not stoking militancy or extremism, a report by a leading US think-tank has concluded.

The Brookings Institution report says that while religious schools are often cited as a cause of extremism, they "appear not to be a major risk factor".

The report says that fewer than 10% of Pakistani students attended madrassas.

It says that the real cause of militancy in the country is the poor public education system.
Urgent priority

Report co-author Rebecca Winthrop, a Brookings fellow, said that number of militant madrassas was not increasing.

She said that most Pakistani parents preferred not to send their children to school at all rather than to enrol them in madrassas.

"We do need to take the militant madrassa issue very seriously," she said at the launch of the report.

"We should really leave the question of the role of Islam in the Pakistan education system to the Pakistanis to debate. This is not something that I think is fruitful if outsiders - us here in the US - start weighing in on."

The study found that the most urgent priority was to increase the supply of schools in Pakistan, where a literacy rate of 56% is among the lowest outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

The researchers said that low enrolment rates were "a risk factor for violence" and that demand for education inside Pakistan "far exceeded the government's ability to provide it".

Furthermore, Pakistan's public school system was "highly corrupt" with teaching positions handed out in return for political favours and teachers paid regardless or whether they turned up for work or not.

"The way the education system is set up is contributing to support militancy," said Ms Winthrop.

"Historically education in Pakistan has been used as a tool by successive regimes in pursuing narrow political ends."

She said that the curriculum and teaching methods in public schools promoted the dissemination of intolerant views and did not prepare students in their search for employment.

The report said that this turn frustrated youngsters and increased the pool of militant recruits.

"The almost exclusive focus on madrassas as a security challenge - which is especially prevalent in the west - needs to be corrected," the report said.

Riaz Haq said...

UNDP publishes the Education Index which is measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weighting) and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weighting). The adult literacy rate gives an indication of the ability to read and write, while the GER gives an indication of the level of education from kindergarten to postgraduate education.

On this UNDP education index, Pakistan scores 0.665 and ranks 137, ahead of India's score of 0.638 and ranking of 142nd.

Riaz Haq said...

A US NIH funded study published in Lancet says over 200,000 Indians die of Malaria among 1.3 million infectious disease deaths reported in the country, according to a report by the BBC:

he number of people dying from malaria in India has been hugely underestimated, according to new research.

The data, published in the Lancet, suggests there are 13 times more malaria deaths in India than the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

The authors conclude that more than 200,000 deaths per year are caused by malaria.

The WHO said the estimate produced by this study appears too high.

The research was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

The new figures raise doubts over the total number of malaria deaths worldwide.
Difficult diagnosis

Calculating how many people die from malaria is extremely difficult. Most cases that are diagnosed and treated do not result in fatalities.

People who die of extremely high fevers in the community can be misdiagnosed and the cause of death can be attributed to other diseases and vice versa.

As most deaths in India occur at home, without medical intervention, cause of death is seldom medically certified.

There are about 1.3 million deaths from infectious diseases, where acute fever is the main symptom in rural areas in India.

In this study, trained field workers interviewed families, asking them to describe how their relative died. Two doctors then reviewed each description and decided if the death was caused by malaria. This method is called verbal autopsy.

Some 122,000 premature deaths between 2001 and 2003 were investigated.

The data suggests that 205,000 deaths before the age of 70, mainly in rural areas, are caused by malaria each year.

Riaz Haq said...

Two-thirds of India's population lacks basic sanitation facilities. They are exposed to a variety of infectious disease resulting in 1.3 million deaths a year accounting for the largest number of victims of infections in the world. Studies indicate the prevalence of infections may be contributing to lower IQ of Indians.

In addition to malaria, dengue fever, and cysticercosis, India also has a huge disease burden of rabies, caused by dog bites. In India, 20,000 rabies deaths (that is about 2/100,000 population) are estimated to occur annually, according to Times of India.

India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country.

Lizette Burgers, chief of water and environment sanitation of the Unicef, recently said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia. A former Indian minister Mr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told the BBC that more than 65% of India's rural population defecated in the open, along roadsides, railway tracks and fields, generating huge amounts of excrement every day.

A US NIH funded study published in Lancet says over 200,000 Indians die of Malaria among 1.3 million infectious disease deaths reported in the country, according to a report by the BBC.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed by Ananya Mukherjee-Reed on Kerala women, an Indian state with the highest social indicators in India and most of the developing world:

Some 250,000 Kudumbashree women throughout Kerala have come together to form farming collectives which jointly lease land, cultivate it, use the produce to meet their consumption needs and sell the surplus to local markets. Currently, these collectives are farming on an approximate area of 25000 hectares, spread throughout the 14 districts of Kerala. The idea is to increase the participation of women in agriculture, and in particular, to ensure that women, as producers, have control over the production, distribution and consumption of food.

This strategy for involving women in agriculture comes at a very crucial time for Kerala. As in most parts of the world, vast quantities of Kerala's agricultural land has been diverted towards residential and commercial development. At the same time, fall in agricultural prices and rising wages have made farming an unprofitable activity - leading to a continuous fall in food production in the state. It is in this context that Kerala has developed its food security strategy. Unlike the standard approaches to food security; it goes beyond the question of food distribution to the realm of food production. Indeed, as global movements like the Via Campesina have been trying to assert, unless the production of food is enhanced and the real producers of food have control over the food economy, there can be no food security.

As I travelled through Kerala, it seemed to me that Kudumbasree farmers are emerging as key actors in this attempt to rejuvenate the agrarian economy. They are bringing back land for agricultural production through their collective organisation. Slowly but surely, the connections between local livelihoods, local markets and local consumption are being reinvigorated. As I travelled, my intention was not so much to ‘assess' Kudumbashree, but to understand what the experiments might mean concretely to its protagonists.

For most of the 250 women I have met so far, farming is a not new vocation. But for some, this is the first time they are working for an income. For others, this marks a very important transition from their role of an agricultural labourer. "Earlier we were just labourers. Now we have hope," says Savitri, a landless dalit woman in Palakkad district. The 'hope' that she speaks of comes from her new role as a 'producer' and farmer. Now she works for herself and her group, on the land they have collectively leased. "As a labourer, I knew there was only work, only hard labour and nothing to gain at the end," she says. In Idukki district, I met several women who have given up working as wage labourers since they have taken up farming. There is much enthusiasm for expanding their farming activity, although land remains scarce.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a news report on UNDP findings released today:

India lags behind its neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh, on human development indices like life expectancy at birth and mean or average years of schooling, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released Thursday said.

Titled "Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development", the report had a global launch and was released at the UN in New York by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

While India is ranked 119 on the Human Development Index (HDI) among 169 countries -- above Pakistan and Bangladesh which are ranked 125 and 129, respectively -- it lags behind the two on certain development indices.

According to the report, life expectancy at birth in India is 64.4 years, while in Pakistan it is 67.2 years. In Bangladesh, life expectancy is 66.9 years.

Similarly, mean years of schooling in India is 4.4 years while in Pakistan and Bangladesh it is 4.9 and 4.8 years respectively.

Sri Lanka, which is ranked above India on HDI at 91, also fares better than India on the two indices. Its life expectancy at birth is 74.4 years and mean years of schooling is 8.2 years.

On some positive note, in terms of growth of income, India is considered one of the top 10 countries. China is on the top position in this index.

Finance Ministrys chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu, who was present at the India launch of the report, said: "India has a lot of catching up to do. There is scope to do so much better."

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a NY Times Op Ed by Nicholas Kistoff on Pakistan:

Meanwhile, Pakistan seeks postflood aid from Western taxpayers, yet barely taxes its own affluent citizens at home. And its feudal landholders have historically opposed good schools, for fear that poor Pakistanis — if educated — would object to oppression.

One reason Pakistan is sometimes called the most dangerous country in the world is this: a kindergarten child in this country has only a 1 percent chance of reaching the 12th grade, according to the Pakistan Education Task Force, an official panel. The average Pakistani child is significantly less likely to be schooled than the average child in sub-Saharan Africa.

American myopia historically has played a role. We’ve propped up generals but not the lawyers’ movement for democracy. We’ve allocated billions of dollars for Pakistan’s army but not for schools. And the U.S. has never been willing to take the single most important step: open our markets wide to Pakistani garment exports, so as to provide jobs and strengthen the business sector.

Now let’s break for a ray of hope.

This is my first trip to Pakistan in years in which the country’s downhill slide seems to have been arrested — and that’s notwithstanding the floods that ravaged the country recently.

It helps that the United States has approved the Kerry-Lugar-Berman package to provide civilian aid, earning the U.S. a dose of goodwill in Pakistan. But most important, members of Pakistan’s emerging middle class are stepping up to the plate.

They are enraged at the terrorists who have been tearing apart their country, they’re appalled by corruption and illiteracy, and they want peace so that their children can become educated and live a better life. Their obsession is college, not Kashmir.

Partly because of middle-class influence, ordinary Pakistanis are increasingly focused on education. About one-fourth of Pakistani children, even from poor families, now attend private schools, simply because the public schools are so wretched.

These days the middle class is not only eclipsing the feudal landowners but also rejects the old feudal contempt for the masses. One reflection of the middle-class engagement is the rise of the Citizens Foundation, a terrific aid group started by a group of businessmen frustrated by their country’s appalling schools.

Today, T.C.F. runs 660 excellent schools for the poorest citizens. I visited several of these schools on this trip — and, wow!

T.C.F. spends 40 percent less per pupil than state schools do, but manages to provide incomparably better education. Here in the most-populous province of Punjab, for example, nearly 100 percent of Citizens Foundation pupils pass government exams, while over the last four years state schools have averaged a 44 percent pass rate.

Riaz Haq said...

Countries like BRIC nations with rapid economic growth are often promoted by the likes of Goldman Sachs and New York Times, while nations with top social induicators but low economic growth are dismissed as less important.

Steven Hill discusses this situation by comparing US with Japan in a piece he wrote for Common Dreams.

Here are some excerpts from it:

Look at it this way: In the midst of the Great Recession, the United States is suffering through nearly 10% unemployment and 50 million people without health insurance. A new report has found over 14% of Americans living below the poverty line, including 20% of children and 23% of seniors, the highest since President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. That's in addition to declining prospects for the middle class, and a general increase in economic insecurity.

How, then, should we regard a country that has 5% unemployment, healthcare for all its people, the lowest income inequality and is one of the world's leading exporters? This country also scores high on life expectancy, low on infant mortality, is at the top in literacy, and is low on crime, incarceration, homicides, mental illness and drug abuse. It also has a low rate of carbon emissions, doing its part to reduce global warming. In all these categories, this particular country beats both the U.S. and China by a country mile.

Doesn't that sound like a country from which Americans might learn a thing or two about how to get out of the mud hole in which we are stuck?

Not if that place is Japan. During and before the current economic crisis, few countries have been vilified as an economic basket case as much as the Land of the Rising Sun. Google "Japan and its economy" and you will get numerous hits about Japan's allegedly sclerotic economy, its zombie banks, its deflation and slow economic growth. This malaise has even been called "Japan syndrome", sounding like a disease to warn policymakers, as in "you don't want to end up like Japan."

Pavan said...

I came across a news report on BBC regarding a major trial in
progress in Nigeria in which the non-hormonal drug Tranexamic Acid is
being used to control post-partum bleeding which is the major cause
for maternal deaths. The drug is already in use for menorraghia or
heavy menstrual bleeding mostly in western countries and is available
over the counter in UK. The drug is administered orally. The drug has
already saved hundreds of lives in Nigeria. If the drug is made
available in adequate quantitiy in South Asia, I do believe that it
could drastically cut down maternal mortality rates. In India,
Pakistan and Bangladesh we lose around 1,50,000 women in or after
childbirth. The efficacy of the drug has already been proved but it
may take several years before its use becomes common. In the meantime
we will continue to lose tens of thousands of young mothers in rural
areas where there is no nursing or hospital care available. I have
written to the Federation of doctors looking after Obstetrics and
gynecology. Since the drug is available over the counter in UK, I am
sure it will have very limited side effects. In any case it will be
given as a one time dose after childbirth. Just thought I would share
this and if there is any way to take this forward. Regards. Pavan
PS The drug is being manufactured in India but is somewhat expensive
by Indian standards, 4 dollars for a course of ten tablets. The price
would go down when demand increases.

Riaz Haq said...


Excellent find! I do think it will help. Thanks for sharing it.

A year ago I read a book titled "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson who has had a lot of experience working in remote rural areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan building schools.

He has a couple of interesting anecdotes about saving mothers as well as reducing child mortality in Pakistan's Baltistan area. In one story, he talks about a poor Balti villager whose wife and the breast-fed baby girl were very sick after birth. Since Mortenson is a trained nurse, he quickly recognized the symptoms and understood that the problem was caused by toxicity from part of the placenta left rotting in mother's womb but he was afraid that the conservative husband would not allow a man, particularly a foreigner, touch his wife.

After a day or two, Mortenson gathered up the courage to explain the problem to the ailing woman's husband and to asked for his permission and, to his utter surprise, the man agreed. Mortenson then manually pulled the placenta out and saw the woman and the baby recover within a few days.

What this story tells me is that the solutions are there, and it's really a matter of some education of the villagers and basic acess to skilled midwives and nurses in every village.

Pavan said...

Thanks. Greg is a great guy. Have read the sequel to Three Cups too. I
am sharing this with some of my friends who are doctors working in
rural areas. They too feel this can make a difference. Pavan

Pavan said...

The Human Development Index: The debate continues
Last week, Francisco Rodríguez, HDRO's Head of Research, addressed some criticisms of the Human Development Index. This week, the debate continues with a new piece by Martin Ravallion, Director of the Development Research Group at the World Bank, and a response by Francisco Rodríguez.
Read their articles here:
Fretting over tradeoffs? Response to Francisco Rodriguez by Martin Ravallion, Director, Development Research Group, World Bank
Interpreting Trade-offs in the HDI: A Response to Martin Ravallion by Francisco Rodríguez, Head of the Research Team, Human Development Report Office, UNDP

Mayraj said...


Poor countries with IMF loans 'divert aid from public health'
Oxford University-led research finds signs that tough loan conditions imposed by IMF has led to health aid being diverted for other uses

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an opinion piece by Amartya Sen published in The Hindu:

... I managed to resurrect the memory of having said in passing, in a meeting of TIE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) in Delhi in December, that it is silly to be obsessed about overtaking China in the rate of growth of Gross National Product (GNP), while not comparing ourselves with China in other respects, like education, basic health, or life expectancy. Since that one-sentence remark seems to have been interpreted in many different ways (my attention to that fact was drawn by friends who are more web-oriented than I am), I guess I should try to explain what that remark was about.
Let me look at some numbers, drawing from various sources — national as well as international, in particular World Development Reports of the World Bank and Human Development Reports of the United Nations. Life expectancy at birth in China is 73.5 years; in India it is still 64.4 years. Infant mortality rate is 50 per thousand in India, compared with just 17 in China, and the under-5 mortality rate is 66 for Indians and 19 for the Chinese. China's adult literacy rate is 94 per cent, compared with India's 65 per cent, and mean years of schooling in India is 4.4 years, compared with 7.5 years in China. In our effort to reverse the lack of schooling of girls, India's literacy rate for women between the ages of 15 and 24 has certainly risen, but it is still below 80 per cent, whereas in China it is 99 per cent. Almost half of our children are undernourished compared with a very tiny proportion in China. Only 66 per cent of Indian children are immunised with triple vaccine (DPT), as opposed to 97 per cent in China. Comparing ourselves with China in these really important matters would be a very good perspective, and they can both inspire us and give us illumination about what to do — and what not to do, particularly the glib art of doing nothing.
Life expectancy in Bangladesh is 66.9 years compared with India's 64.4. The proportion of underweight children in Bangladesh (41.3 per cent) is a little lower than in India (43.5), and its fertility rate (2.3) is also lower than India's (2.7). Mean years of schooling amount to 4.8 years in Bangladesh compared with India's 4.4 years. While India is ahead of Bangladesh in male literacy rate in the youthful age-group of 15-24, the female rate in Bangladesh is higher than in India. Interestingly, the female literacy rate among young Bangladeshis is actually higher than the male rate, whereas young females still do much worse than young males in India. There is much evidence to suggest that Bangladesh's current progress has much to do with the role that liberated Bangladeshi women are beginning to play in the country.

What about health, which interests every human being as much as anything else? Under-5 mortality rate is 66 in India compared with 52 in Bangladesh. In infant mortality, Bangladesh has a similar advantage, since the rate is 50 in India and 41 in Bangladesh. Whereas 94 per cent of Bangladeshi children are immunised with DPT vaccine, only 66 per cent of Indian children are. In each of these respects, Bangladesh does better than India, despite having less than half of India's per-capita income.
And perhaps more worryingly, this group of relatively privileged and increasingly prosperous Indians can easily fall for the temptation to treat economic growth as an end in itself........

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has been ranked 10th among the countries in term of human development improvement by the United Nations Development Programme’s 20th Human Development Report 2010, according to Dawn News:

Those among the 135 countries that improved most in Human Development Index (HDI) terms over the past 30 years were led by Oman, which invested energy earnings over the decades in education and public health.

The other nine “Top Movers” are China, Nepal, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Tunisia, South Korea, Algeria and Morocco. Remarkably, China was the only country that made the “Top 10” list due solely to income performance; the main drivers of HDI achievement were in health and education.

The UNDP report said that in Pakistan, between 1980 and 2010, the HDI value increased by 58 per cent (average annual increase of about 1.5 per cent).

“With such an increase Pakistan is ranked 10 in terms of HDI improvement, which measures progress in comparison to the average progress of countries with a similar initial HDI level”, it added.

Pakistan’s life expectancy at birth increased by more than nine years, mean years of schooling increased by about nine years and expected years of schooling increased by almost 4 years.

Pakistan’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased by 92 per cent during the same period. The relative to other countries in the region, in 1980, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh had close HDI values for countries in South Asia.

However, during the period between 1980 and 2010 the three countries experienced different degrees of progress toward increasing their HDIs states the Report.

The Report introduces the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which identifies multiple deprivations in the same households in education, health and standard of living.

The average percentage of deprivation experienced by people in multidimensional poverty is 54 per cent.

The MPI, which is the share of the population that is multi-dimensionally poor, adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.275.Pakistan’s “HDI neighbors”, India and Bangladesh, have MPIs of 0.296 and 0.291, respectively.

Riaz Haq said...

China, Nepal, Indonesia and South Korea are among the ''top movers'' in the Human Development Index (HDI), while India joins the list of top 10 performers in income growth, says a report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), according to a UNI report:

However, the country ranks 119th in the non-income HDI and is way below China (89) and Sri Lanka (91), and also below its other neighbours Bangladesh (116) and Pakistan (112). The UNDP launched its 20th anniversary edition of Human Development Report 2010 'The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development' worldwide today. In India, the report was launched by UNDP Resident Representative and UN Coordinator Patrice Coeur-Bizot in the presence of Planning Commission member Syeda Hamid and Chief Economic Advisor, Union Ministry of Finance Kaushik Basu.

Among Asian countries, Nepal ranks second among top movers in non-income HDI while India is among top ten in GDP growth and is among the middle human development countries. The other nine Top Movers are China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Tunisia, South Korea, Algeria and Morocco.

An analysis of the 40-year trends shows that poor nations, including Nepal, were making 'faster development gains'.

There has been steady progress on the HDI over the past 20 years and India's HDI was above the average for countries in South Asia.

Its economic growth has been impressive, but inequality was on the rise and the report said there was 30 per cent loss in HDI value when adjusted against inequality, said Mr Coeur-Bizot.

Reacting to India's ranking in the report, Mr Basu said the country's goal was to improve overall human development and not just economic growth. However, he said, economic growth and rise in income levels were necessary for improving human development index, as for example, access to education and health services was linked with income level.

Ms Hamid in her remarks said more emphasis would be placed in democratisation of the five year plans and change introduced with the 11th Plan would be more visible in the 12th Plan. The 2010 Report introduces three new indices that measure the impact of inequality, gender disparities and multi-dimensional poverty.

Riaz Haq said...

UN Human Development Report 2010 shows that Pakistan ranks among the top 10 movers in HDI in the decade of 2000-2010.

See table 3 in Let's Talk Human Development.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed "Economic Growth Versus Human Development" by Prahlad Shekhawat published 02 July, 2011, Countercurrents.org:

Conventional indicators of development are being seen as unsatisfactory. The need for higher GDP leads to productive systems and consumption patterns that are not in harmony with the carrying capacity of the environment and our planet. GDP does not measure indicators of well-being, fair and equal distribution, unpaid labor and social sector indicators which assess the provision of effective employment, health and education.

India has consistently achieved the second highest rates of GDP growth but moved down to 134 position in the Human Development Index in 2009, compared to 128 a year before. The 2010 report puts India far behind in terms of achievements in tackling multidimensional poverty. The report concludes that economic growth has not lead to human development or less inequality. Similarly India is lagging far behind in its meager efforts to fulfill the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Since many years the composite Human Development Index has been combining income, health, education and gender equity. The 2010 report there is a proposal to enlarge the measures to include new indicators like equity, environmental sustainability and empowerment through people’s participation

Moving away from one sided focus on economic growth as a panacea and an end in itself developed is being redefined in terms of more meaningful, multidimensional and sustainable measures. According to the Research Group: Wellbeing in Developing Countries at the University of Bath, the concept of wellbeing examines three perspectives: ideas of human functioning, capabilities and needs, the analysis of livelihoods and resource use, and research on subjective wellbeing and happiness.
The recent report of the Commission points out that there is no consensus yet as to which indicators provide the greatest value, and how they should be applied in guiding public policy. The Commission’s most significant finding seems to be the need to track three distinct policy goals separately: economic, performance, quality of life, and environmental sustainability. Combining many dimensions of well-being would dilute clarity and provide numerical results with little practical utility.

Can the Indian Government respond by setting up a similar and much needed commission in India on the Impact of Economic Growth on Human Development, under the Chairmanship of Amartya Sen. India and its government celebrates Amartya Sen as a matter of Indian pride because he won the Nobel prize, yet completely ignores his advice that economic growth is a means for human development and not an end in itself

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story about a Lancet study of Pakistan's "Ladies Health Workers" treating child pneumonia:

LONDON, 14 November 2011 (IRIN) - Pakistan’s army of “Lady Health Workers” – some 90,000 strong – was never meant to diagnose and treat serious illnesses. Instead, these female community health workers (in Pakistan, men cannot visit families) were expected to teach good hygiene and nutrition, provide family planning advice, monitor pregnant women, weigh and vaccinate babies and treat minor ailments.

Yet a new study shows that these same women could hold the key to treating pneumonia – the world’s leading killer of young children.

The study, published by The Lancet medical journal and conducted by Save the Children US, funded by the US Agency for International Development and coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), found that children suffering from severe pneumonia were more likely to recover if treated at home by these women rather than in a health facility.
Sadruddin and his colleagues in Pakistan decided to see whether treatment could be given at home by the local Lady Health Worker. They ran a pilot project in Haripur district, in the south of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. Where the health workers identified severe pneumonia, with fever, rapid breathing and in-drawing of the lower chest, they were to give a full course of the WHO recommended antibiotic, liquid amoxicillin. “We wanted to see if they could do as well as conventional in-patient treatment. In fact, we found that they did better.”

The study followed 3,211 children, whose progress was checked six days after the start of treatment. Among those treated by their local health worker, only 9 percent failed to respond to treatment. In the control group, 18 percent failed to respond. The children visited at home started treatment sooner, and were sure to get the most suitable drug, while prescriptions in government and private clinics were far less consistent.

The Lady Health Workers taking part in the trial were carefully supervised. “These workers cannot just be left unsupervised after their training,” Sadruddin told IRIN. “They need ongoing support from their supervisors to attain their goals.”

The message was reinforced by the Elizabeth Mason, director of WHO’s Department for Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health.

“Supervision is absolutely critical, and it is one area that programmes have to ensure that they have well in place,” she told IRIN.

But she said WHO was extremely interested in the findings. “This is the kind of breakthrough research which is urgently needed. It is the first study of its kind and we will have to put it together with studies from other places. But I hope we may be able to review our guidelines to make treatment more accessible to poorer children and those living in remote communities, the ones who need it most.”

The programme also brought benefits to the women, elevating their status. In Haripur, when people saw that the women could treat seriously ill children and save their lives, their status rose dramatically, according to Sadruddin. By the end of the two-year trial, families were far more likely to make the Lady Health Worker their first port of call when their children were ill.

“When they started,” said Sadruddin, “the women themselves were not confident of their own abilities, and the community was also not confident. But when we went back, we found [so] much respect for the Lady Health Workers.”


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times report on Lancet study of child pneumonia home treatment by Pakistan's lady health workers:

Letting “lady health workers” in rural northern Pakistan treat children with severe pneumonia in their homes worked better than the established practice of telling parents to take them to a hospital, a new study has found.

The study, published in The Lancet this month, followed 1,857 children who were treated at home with oral amoxicillin for five days and 1,354 children in a control group who were given standard care: one dose of oral cotrimoxazole and instructions to go to the nearest hospital or clinic.

The home-treated group had only a 9 percent treatment-failure rate, while the control group children failed to improve 18 percent of the time.

Some parents could not afford to take their children to hospitals, which were often understaffed.

Researchers from Save the Children, the World Health Organization and Boston University did the study, which was financed by the United States Agency for International Development. Pneumonia is a major killer of infants and toddlers.

Pakistan’s network of 90,000 “lady health workers” was founded in 1994 by Benazir Bhutto, then the prime minister.

“It’s one of the best community-based health systems in the world,” said Dr. Donald Thea, a Boston University researcher who was one of the authors.

A Lancet editorial cautioned that not all local health workers are as well trained and supervised as Pakistan’s and that since northern Pakistan has a low AIDS rate, it would be wrong to assume that every country would do as well with such a system.


Riaz Haq said...

Results of PISA international test released by OECD in Dec, 2011, show that Indian students came in at the bottom of the list along with students from Kyrgyzstan:

Students in Tamil Nadu-India attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale that is significantly higher than those for Himachal Pradesh-India and Kyrgyzstan, but lower than all other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
In Tamil Nadu-India, 17% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This means that 83% of students in Tamil Nadu-India are estimated to be below this baseline level. This compares to 81% of student performing at or above the baseline level in reading in the OECD countries, on average.
Students in the Tamil Nadu-India attained a mean score on the PISA mathematical literacy scale as the same observed in Himachal Pradesh-India, Panama and Peru. This was significantly higher than the mean observed in Kyrgyzstan but lower than those of other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
In Tamil Nadu-India, 15% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
Students in Tamil Nadu-India were estimated to have a mean score on the scientific literacy scale, which is below the means of all OECD countries, but significantly above the mean observed in the other Indian state, Himachal Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu-India, 16% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.


Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a piece by Lan Pritchett of Harvard University on India's poor performance on PISA:

Compared to the economic superstars India is almost unfathomably far behind. The TN/HP average 15 year old is over 200 points behind. If a typical grade gain is 40 points a year Indian eighth graders are at the level of Korea third graders in their mathematics mastery. In fact the average TN/HP child is 40 to 50 points behind the worst students in the economic superstars. Equally worrisome is that the best performers in TN/HP - the top 5 percent who India will need in science and technology to complete globally - were almost 100 points behind the average child in Singapore and 83 points behind the average Korean - and a staggering 250 points behind the best in the best.

As the current superpowers are behind the East Asian economic superstars in learning performance the distance to India is not quite as far, but still the average TN/HP child is right at the level of the worst OECD or American students (only 1.5 or 7.5 points ahead). Indians often deride America's schools but the average child placed in an American school would be among the weakest students. Indians might have believed, with President Obama, that American schools were under threat from India but the best TN/HP students are 24 points behind the average American 15 year old.

Even among other "developing" nations that make up the BRICs India lags - from Russia by almost as much as the USA and only for Brazil, which like the rest of Latin America is infamous for lagging education performance does India even come close - and then not even that close.

To put these results in perspective, in the USA there has been huge and continuous concern that has caused seismic shifts in the discourse about education driven, in part, by the fact that the USA is lagging the economic superstars like Korea. But the average US 15 year old is 59 points behind Koreans. TN/HP students are 41.5 points behind Brazil, and twice as far behind Russia (123.5 points) as the US is Korea, and almost four times further behind Singapore (217.5 vs 59) that the US is behind Korea. Yet so far this disastrous performance has yet to occasion a ripple in the education establishment.
These PISA 2009+ results are the end of the beginning. The debate is over. No one can still deny there is a deep crisis in the ability of the existing education system to produce child learning. India's education system is undermining India's legitimate aspirations to be at the global forefront as a prosperous economy, as a global great power, as an emulated polity, and as a fair and just society. As the beginning ends, the question now is: what is to be done?


Riaz Haq said...

Here are excepts of an Op Ed by Andrew Michell, British secretary of DFID, published in The News:

Over the last year, the UK has worked closely with Pakistan to deliver strong results, including supporting nearly half a million children in school; providing practical job training to more than 1,100 poor people in Punjab; providing microfinance loans to more than one hundred thousand people across Pakistan so they can start small businesses and lift their families out of poverty; and helping millions of people affected by the floods in 2010 and 2011.

Education is the single most important factor that can transform Pakistan’s future. With a population that is expected to increase by 50 per cent in less than forty years, it is worrying that half the country’s adults can’t read or write, and that more than a third of primary school aged children are not in school. That’s why the UK is committed to working in partnership with Pakistan to tackle its education emergency.

If educated, healthy and working, this burgeoning youth population will provide a demographic boost to drive Pakistan’s economic growth and unlock Pakistan’s potential on the global stage.

That’s why education is the UK’s top priority and why over the next four years, the UK will work in partnership with Pakistan to:

* support four million children in school;

* recruit and train 90,000 new teachers;

* provide more than six million text book sets; and

* construct or rebuild more than 43,000 classrooms.

Every full year of extra schooling across the population increases economic growth by up to one percentage point, as more people with better reading, writing, and maths skills enter the workforce.

The UK government is also working with Pakistan to empower and protect women and girls, to end violence against them and to help harness their talent and productivity. I welcome the legislation recently passed by Pakistan’s parliament that bans domestic violence, and congratulate Pakistan on its first Oscar for an outstanding film which throws the international spotlight on the horrific crime of acid attacks on women.

Other priorities for the UK include working with Pakistan to prevent 3,600 mothers dying in childbirth; enabling 500,000 couples to choose when and how many children they have; providing practical job training (such as car mechanics, cooks, weavers, carpenters, etc) to tens of thousands of people living in poverty; and enable millions of people, half of them women, to access financial services such as microfinance loans so they can earn more money and lift their families out of poverty.

The UK’s aid to Pakistan could potentially more than double, to become the UK’s largest recipient of aid. However this increase in UK aid is dependent on securing value for money and results, and linked to the Government of Pakistan’s own progress on reform at both the federal and provincial levels. This includes taking steps to build a more dynamic economy, strengthen the country’s tax base, and tackle corruption.


Riaz Haq said...

British secretary of DfID in Pakistan, reports Asian Age:

Secretary of State for the UK’s Department for International Development, Justine Greening, is in Pakistan.

She confirmed confirmed the UK’s commitment to help support four million of Pakistan’s children in school during a visit to two schools in Rawalpindi.

Justine Greening said: “Education is the single most important factor that can transform Pakistan’s future.

"Education helps to increase economic growth and will give the next generation of Pakistanis the chance to build a better future for themselves and their families.

"That’s why education is the UK’s number one priority in Pakistan. We will continue to work with Pakistan, as a partner, to help support four million children in school by 2015.”

Over the next six years alone, UK support for the planned Punjab Education Sector Programme, working with government and other donors, will help an additional 2.9 million children gain access to education, 71 per cent of whom will be girls.

Progress by the Government of Punjab has seen the primary enrolment rate for girls rise to 68 per cent (from 59 per cent) across the province, and to 64 per cent (from 55 per cent) in rural areas, between 2006 and 2010.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the UK’s education programme is focusing on tackling the educational disadvantages faced by girls, providing monthly ‘stipends’ so that poor families can send their girls to school and helping them to stay longer by investing in secondary education facilities for girls schools. 400,000 girls received vouchers this year.

And a new Education Fund for Sindh will educate 200,000 children through vouchers for low cost private sector schools, by working with organisations educating the poor and by supporting public private education partnerships. In its first year, the Education Fund for Sindh is already supporting the education of over 11,600 children.

She also met with Minister of Finance Hafeez Shaikh.

Justine Greening said: “I am pleased to be in Pakistan to see for myself the results that UK aid is helping to deliver in transforming people’s lives and to reiterate the close and enduring bond that our two countries share.

“The elections are a crucial milestone in Pakistan’s democratic history. We look forward to the peaceful transition of power with elections that are credible and support economic reforms that will help Pakistan thrive in the future providing basic services for a fast growing population. The UK stands ready to support Pakistan’s effort to deal with these critical issues.”

The UK’s aid programme is linked to the Government of Pakistan’s progress on results and reform at both the federal and provincial levels, particularly following the upcoming elections.

Discussions between the British Development Secretary and Minister of Finance focused on steps being taken to build a more dynamic economy, strengthen the country’s tax base and tackle corruption.


Riaz Haq said...

Interpreting India's low HDI rank


HDI essentially is a composite index that integrates three basic dimensions of human development: ability to lead a long and healthy life; ability to acquire knowledge and ability to achieve a decent standard of living. The first dimension is captured by life expectancy at birth. Mean years of schooling and expected years of schooling combined capture the second, while Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (PPP in US$) captures the last dimension. Each dimension is then quantified as an index, calculated as the ratio between (Actual Value – Minimum Value)/(Maximum Value – Minimum Value). Note that the minimum and maximum values are fixed values (boundary limits), same for all the countries. These three indices are then aggregated and their geometric mean is taken as the HDI score for a particular country.

Let us take an example. For the year 2016, the Minimum Life Expectancy was fixed as 20 years and Maximum 85 years. India’s life expectancy was 68.3 years. Therefore, the Health Index for India would be computed as (68.3 – 20) / (85 - 20) = 0.743. Using a similar approach, the other two indices – education and income would be computed. Finally, the HDI score for India would be the geometric mean of all three indices. And this score would determine India’s relative rank across several countries. A higher HDI rank should ideally reflect better human development opportunities. Similarly, a year on year increase in HDI rank, would reflect an increase in a country’s relative performance.

However, there are several issues that complicate this. First, the HDI computation methodology itself keeps changing. As can be seen in the table (inset), earlier, Health index was measured by life expectancy at birth; Education index by a combination of adult literacy rate and gross school enrolment rates; and Income index by GDP per capita adjusted for PPP (in US$). Except the health index, methodology for computing the other two indices has now changed significantly. Second, simple arithmetic mean was used to compute HDI scores earlier. Now, geometric mean of each index provides the HDI score. Third, the number of countries for which data is collated also changes year on year. In 2010, there were 169 countries. This number increased to 188 in 2016. Fourth, there have been issues related to timelines of input data. For example, Life expectancy at birth for HDR 2013 corresponded to data for the year 2011. The HDR 2016, on the other hand, used the data for 2015. Especially for the social sectors, there are significant time-lags in data. Finally, and possibly the most serious concerns have been raised over the usage of only three dimensions and giving them equal weights while computing HDI. Experts argue that crucial variables such as political voice, democratic freedom, social connections and relationships, environmental sustainability, and economic/physical security are completely left out. On the other hand, equal weightage to all three indices pulls HDI score of countries like India down. Given the huge population base, India gets consistently low scores on GNI per capita. In fact, on this particular index, India’s score was very similar to that of Pakistan and Congo, but less than that of Iraq.

Riaz Haq said...

REPORT 2021/2022


World set back by 5 years on development indices
India falls from 131 to 132 mainly on back of 2.5 years reduction in life expectancy
BD forges ahead from 140 to 129
Pakistan falls from 154 to 161- in low HDI category now