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Editorial

December 25, 2015
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The development report

Editorial

December 25, 2015

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The  25th annual Human Development Index (HDI) has been released by the United Nations. In a month in which many in the world have celebrated an agreement to curb the effects of climate change, the index is a reminder of how far the goal of inclusive and equitable development has been achieved. The index measures three key indexes – life expectancy, education and income/standard of living. The position of Pakistan in these three categories remains one of the worst in the world. Pakistan is ranked 147th out of a total of 188 countries measured. The world’s best country remains Norway, which has topped the HDI for the twelfth year in a row while Australia stands second in the index. Globally, the HDI data was able to capture how the lives of people around the world are becoming more vulnerable due to the increasingly volatile climate, as violence takes over large territories. War-torn Libya and Syria faced the steepest drops in HDI, falling 27 and 15 places respectively. Around the world, 2015 was a year of tragedy as wars and terrorism took a toll on human life.

There is also the larger trajectory in the global economy, where growth is privileged over equality as the objective of development. The consequence of such policies over the last decade has been a growing income divide, both within countries and across the globe. The UN’s HDI report serves as an annual reminder that economic growth is not the only marker for the development of a country. Instead, the HDI offers much more important markers, such as social equality and access to basic necessities. This is why, despite high growth rates, India remains in the 130th    position on the index. Over the last 25 years, China and Rwanda are the two countries that have climbed up the index. Pakistan may rank above India in its index for gender equality, but a paltry 121st     place is nothing to be proud of. Even worse is our ranking on the global HDI, which should remind our economic managers that the task of development is not only measured by growth targets and money reserves. The UN has noted that providing employment, curbing inequality and promoting workers’ rights are key to making sustainable development work. There is hardly any work being done on either of these aspects in our country. The Human Development Index reminds us that economic growth is merely a means to human development, not an end in itself. Our policymakers must remember to prioritise human development as much as they prioritise economic growth.

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