Monday, January 27, 2014

GDP to HDI to SPI Now : Better Measuring A Country

              SOCIAL Product INdex Now : Better Measuring A Country
EIGHTY YEARS ago, the first holistic measure of a country’s national income – what would later become Gross Domestic Product – was introduced. Developed by economist Simon Kuznets in a report commissioned by Congress to measure economic activity during the Great Depression, GDP quickly became the defining measure of national progress. GDP growth is how we tell whether a country is improving, and GDP per capita has become the definitive measure of the standard of living.
For several decades, however, a growing number of economists have begun to question whether GDP is sufficient to measure national success. Notably, in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, economists Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Jean-Paul Fitoussi released their report “Mismeasuring our Lives,’’ which argued: “If we have the wrong metrics, we will strive for the wrong things.”
Kuznets himself made clear that GDP was only a limited economic lens through which to assess progress. “The welfare of a nation,” he wrote in 1934, “can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income.” Our standard of living reflects social, environmental and community assets, not just economic assets. Happiness and fulfilment rest on factors, such as health, access to knowledge, tolerant communities, and opportunities for personal achievement.
GDP is not bad — it just measures what it measures, and what it measures is limited. The social malaise that resulted in the Arab Spring in many “prosperous” Arab countries is a sign that economic measures alone are inadequate measures of society’s success. The unrest and protests in Brazil, a country that has registered strong economic growth in recent years, tells us the same thing.
The shortcomings of GDP and the need to provide a better measurement have been widely recognized. The United Nations Human Development Index was an important step forward nearly 25 years ago, but it relies on a limited number of indicators, one of which is GDP, and is silent on environmental sustainability. HDI is an incomplete guide to the societal challenges and opportunities that countries — rich, poor, and emerging — face in the 21st century.
This critical need has led to the development of the Social Progress Index, the most inclusive and ambitious effort ever attempted to measure social progress comprehensively. The Social Progress Index defines social progress according to three broad dimensions: Does a country have the capacity to satisfy the basic human needs of its people? Does a country have the institutions and conditions in place to allow its citizens and communities to improve their quality of life? And does a country offer an environment in which each citizen has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential?
Drawing on scholarly research, the Social Progress Index uses the best available data to measure nations’ performances in these three broad areas, using indicators that measure outcomes — such as life expectancy, literacy, and freedom of choice — rather than inputs such as size of government spending or laws passed. This year, the Index will measure social progress across 129 countries representing more than 90 percent of the world’s population.
The Social Progress Index aims to capture the breadth of issues that constitute well-being and identify priority areas for improvement. For the United States, it shows the failings of our health care system, our lagging environmental performance, the lack of personal safety, and our lackluster performance in bringing every citizen into the digital age.
Because the Social Progress Index measures comprehensive social outcomes directly, separately from economic indicators, we are able for the first time to examine the relationship between GDP per capita and social progress. Previously, the assumption has been that economic growth improves well-being. We find that rising GDP per capita, indeed, is correlated with improving social progress, but the connection is far from automatic. For a similar level of GDP, we find that some countries achieve a much higher level of social progress than others. For example, Costa Rica achieves much greater success than South Africa in terms of social progress.
GDP will continue to be a crucial measure of economic progress, but we can now measure social progress in ways that Kuznets and his contemporaries could have barely imagined. As we celebrate today a milestone in national measurement from so many years ago, we can aspire to much more. The ability to measure national well-being will improve dramatically over the coming years, and with it will come accelerated progress.
Ref: 1

Friday, January 24, 2014

Protest By A Chief Minister

               Political Marketing: Protest By A Chief Minister
Now again, Aam Admi Party (AAP) is in focus. Recent Protest by Arvind Keriwal(AK) chief minister (CM) and his cabinet forced public to think about its profits and losses for the health of  AAP. In general, public opinion is not favorable to it. General views are more on harm side than good. But, protest was must from political marketing angle.
This is an open secret that AK did not favor to form government at personal level as he confessed publically. But some in party and outside situation forced him to do so. Delhi is not having full statehood. Law and order, safety and governance are first and foremost issues. Ironically, Government of India (GoI) by home ministry controls Delhi police. How CM Delhi can give desired result in such circumstances when both governments are at loggerheads.
AAP assessed the prevailing conditions. To bring Delhi officials into control, they seized this opportunity. Focusing on police, this protest was organized to give many messages. One, officials must learn not to ignore AAP. Two, officials mend themselves into new cult of working culture. Three, they can do anything, not in past, to reduce the attack sharpness of opposition and political adversaries. Four, it is a path breaking step to take its new cult of politics further. Five, BJP, Congress, and others learn what this new initiative meant for them. Six, a new political modern tool is evolved “CM On DHARNA”.
AAP is successful in its efforts. After Delhi result, AAPians are over charged. This Charge position is not good. Normalcy is always good. This protest discharged them to a greater extent to think and plan coolly. And not be in air. It also helped in disciplining the party and government office bearers. Short sit-on-dharna brought party into discussion on its fate and future. This way party got many valuable suggestions which are good for party health.  A CM can sit on protest with his colleagues is path breaking approach. Hence, masses saw it as new initiative and innovative in new cult of politics pursued by AAPs.
The protest is depicted and perceived more negative than positive. Many disappointed who saw some ray of hope for governance by AAP. Over actions, acting, and speeches have brought more harm than good. As a result, now AAP’s position lowered as compared to its position before protest. Public confidence evaporated slightly. Therefore, sag has cropped in AAP’s life.
Evaluation of profits and losses from political angel is positive. Over all aim of all adversaries is to fail AK and kill AAP at any cost. AAP has no friend in open to name except public. New cult of politics of AAP made this new political party enemy of all political outfits.
          Before election AK was in single role of politics. He is continuing his convener post of the party. The party projects and pose that it is following flat organization concept unlike others which are hierarchical. This is in tune with party motto that all are Amm and none is Khas in party. This is possible only in flat party organization. After election, he got an additional role of CM to play. Now, he is in double role of Indian political theater.
          While he was on protest, what role he was playing. If he protested in party convener capacity, absolutely nothing is wrong. But if he protested as CM then question raised has some ground. Social activist Aruna Roy who said an elected government should not resort to street protests. She said demand of AK for control over Delhi police is genuine. But she disagrees with means.
AK has to prove as CM to meet public expectations. This is not possible without the support of Delhi officials. He achieved this to some extent by this protest. He added a new chapter in new cult politics book that a CM can sit on protest. Some see it as new style for a CM. Protest was against GoI police by Delhi CM as usual. On the occasion of republic day AK stated “I re-read the constitution- couldn’t find where was it written that a CM can’t hold a dharna.”
This protest appeared more political. But in fact reading between the lines, it was more administrative than political in disguise. Governance novice AK could not give it true colors.
The whole exercise of protest moved around gaining control of officials and tuned them to newly desired corruption free functioning. This was utmost needed to meet promises made during elections. Pressure is there to fulfill the promises. AK handled this administrative issue with a political tool. Hence, he provided very soft and easy platform to adversaries to oppose him.
Politically two governments of different parties’ clashes often in Gandhian style. This protest is very much same and one of them. Hence, it is not as different as being projected and cried. Overall balance sheet of this protest has profit making booking in light of current situations for AK and AAP in light of new style of politics pursued by it.
 Heera Lal (Views are personal and based on different sources)
7.     Times of India editorial they said it 27th January 2014.