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March 10, 2019

Pushing at the limits to measure human development

Islamabad

March 10, 2019

Book title: Law and Development: An Alternative Indicator for the Measurement of Development

Author: Sharafat A. Chaudhry

Publisher: IRD

Year of publication: 2018

Price: Rs400

Hassan Zaidi

Pakistan has long been lagging behind in the ranks of developed countries. We made tall promises, and endorsed almost all UN treaties. There is an army of English speaking and good looking advocates to tell us about the wonders that we may make achieving international development indicators. Since they are mercenary thinkers and their activism is paid by donors, they have never been able to add to body of knowledge and this gap is beautifully filled by Mr Sharafat A Chaudhry, a lawyer who has left the development sector at a time when he was at the peak of his profession because of its shortcomings.

Now Mr Sharafat has come up with a big surprise in the shape of his book “Law and Development: An Alternative Indicator for the Measurement of Development”.

The author is convinced fully that rule of law and justice must be considered as an indicator to measure development. He doggedly followed Amartya Sen’s statement defining law and development: “Development is removal of major sources of unfreedom: poverty as well as tyranny, poor economic opportunities as well as systematic social deprivation, neglect of public facilities as well as intolerance or over activity of repressive states.”

Mr Sharafat has adopted a critical approach writing this book. He gave an overview of different theories that govern the development discourse the world over. Briefly criticizing them one by one, he concludes that economists have dominated development discourse and law is their least concern. Himself a development professional, he understands that this approach has its flaws, which is why it has failed to yield fruits for under-developed countries like Pakistan.

At the same time, he is not happy with law professionals who look down upon the field of development considering it inferior to law. This is the gap in research on development that prompted Mr Sharafat to write the book.

Giving background of the subject, he explains that in 1960s, a movement was launched to bring the fields of law and development closer and research papers were written on it. Some European universities have started offering courses and degrees in law and development recently. But Mr Sharafat is the first to propose addition of “freedom from tyranny”, a concept introduced by Sen, as an indicator to measure development.

He presses on the need to add “removal from un-freedom” and “freedom from tyranny” in the HDI to measure development in a better way. He writes the concept of tyranny is related to state and it is his assertion that it is helpful in understanding development. He explains that the nature of law suits in underdeveloped countries is mainly criminal while in developed countries courts have more cases about civil, commercial and intellectual; hence, offering us four categories to measure relationship between law and development. He compared the nature of law suits in Islamabad with Mian Channu, the former is high on HDI and the latter lower. He found that Islamabad is getting more cases of civil and commercial nature while in Mian Channu the volume of criminal cases is higher, endorsing his hypothesis that law can be used as a development indicator.

Mr Sharafat has introduced this subject in Pakistan and is teaching the same in the departments of development studies at Islamabad universities. Iqbal International Institute of Research and Dialogue (IRD) has published this book. Dr Husanul Amin has a taste for critical approach in dealing with politics and social change and been leading the IRD towards excellence. It was he who saw in Mr Sharafat an author and unlocked him.

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