Gone are the days when development was measured as a function of GDP or Per Capita GDP. Human Development Index is the in the thing. Today businesses feel tempted to move to the BRIC markets as it’s where the growth is. The question that begs an answer is: has this development actually contributed to the living standards of the people in these countries?
In the 2009 raking of nations based on HDI which ranked 182 countries; 2 BRIC markets rank in the High Human Development bracket at ranks 71st (Russian Federation) and 75th (Brazil). China is clubbed under Medium Human development at 92nd while India lags behind at a distant 134 in the same bracket. The country to top the charts in the Very High Human Development bracket is Norway while Niger is at the bottom of the charts at 182nd position in the Low Human Development bracket. 12 UN members were not ranked in the study. These rankings represent statistical values for 2007 data.
Commenting on the rankings the resident representative of UNDP Patrice Coeur-Bizot said that the Indian progress has been steady in terms of the actual rating improvement it has made from 0.556 in 2000 to 0.612 in 2007. Though the progress may be significant, it has still a lot to do in order to move up the HDI ladder with the leader Norway holding the fortress at a high 0.971 in 2007.
One reason that ensures that the country could not move up the ladder from its spot a year ago is the fact that only income is responsive to short-term policy changes. Health and education take longer to improve. In the HDI ratings the factors that are accounted for apart from GDP are life expectancy and literacy.
- “We continue to pay the price for our relative neglect of education and health in the first 40 years of our development,” said Dr Santosh Mehrotra, former chief economist of the Global Human Development Report.
- “We spend a lot on these schemes,” said Abhijit Patnaik, senior researcher at the Accountability Initiative at the Centre for Policy Research, “but the money has gone into building physical infrastructure rather than producing outcomes.”
The BRIC growth story is surely true but exceptions go beyond the HDI ranks. The International Business Report (IBR) by Thornton International lists Mexico among top four destinations for investment and development opportunities. China, India and Russia hold top three spots.
Surely, the BRIC markets are growing but they need to ensure that the growth is inclusive and all the citizens get the fruits of the development.