The Financial Express

HDR 2016 and a critical view

| Updated: October 24, 2017 02:40:26

HDR 2016 and a critical view

Bangladesh has a somewhat comfortable position in Human Development Ranking (HDR). According to HDR Index 2016, Bangladesh has been ranked 139th among 188 countries. Bangladesh moved three notches up in HDR rating in a year. In 2015, it was 142th among 188 countries.  It has made progress in socio-economic sector, increased life expectancy rate and also increased gross domestic product (GDP) per capita income. The rates of growth or development are increasing more than the past decades.
According to HDR Index 2016, Bangladesh has maintained the highest average annual growth rate among South Asian countries which is 1.64 per cent from 1990 to 2015. Life expectancy at birth in Bangladesh stood at 72 years, expected years of schooling is 10.2 years, mean years of schooling 5.2 years. 
Human Development Index (HDI) value of Bangladesh in 2015 was 0.579. In 2010, it was at 0.545. Bangladesh has progressed in HDI value which is a good achievement for us, but not good enough for achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) within 2030. For fulfilling SDGs, Bangladesh has to gather more pace in its progress.
Human development is not only improvement of humans. According to Selim Jahan, Director of Human Development Report office, 'human development is the improvement of a society as a whole.'  It is that process where all developmental programmes and policies revolve around humans and their capacities to execute those programmes and draw benefits from those in a sustained manner. It is, in other words, a facilitator that allows people's access to basic rights, right to participate in public policy making and also to take part in distributive justice in the society.
It is true although per capita income and GDP growth rate are both on increase in Bangladesh, inequality too is ever persistent, and is reportedly growing at a faster pace. In the fiscal year 2016-2017, GDP growth rate was 7.24 per cent and per capita income stood at $1602. Still, 31 per cent of the people in Bangladesh live under poverty line and around 13 per cent of them live under extreme poverty line. 
Inequitable distribution of income is the main reason of high poverty rate. GDP per capita is an average which does not show the actual income per person in a country. On the other hand, elites in the society are the owners of the lion's share of total GDP. So, income gap between the poor and the rich are growing day by day. Poor people have no right to participate in decision making in social development process. They are considered worthless in society. They are deprived of economic rights, social rights and more often than not, they are deprived of the basic security of their livers. In such a situation, it is hardly heartening to see that the country has moved up in its HDR rating.
So, Bangladesh government has to ensure that human development policies should take into account group development rather than individual development. The government should focus on such human development that ensures basic rights of the people and equal participation all citizens in decision making in order to reduce poverty and inequality in the society.
HDR value of a country will be rewarding when it is able to address welfare of the common man in all spheres of his living. The government has to move towards participatory development approach which only can ensure improvement of the lot of the citizens. 
The writer is a student of Development Studies at Dhaka University. 
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