Economy is for the people, people is not for the economy
Farria Naeem, M Syeduzzaman, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman and Dr. Selim jahan (From left to right)
Economy is for the people, as far as the Human Development perspective is concerned, people is not for the economy. The Human Development in South Asia 2015 also takes this perspective, said Dr. Selim Jahan, Director, Human Development Report Office, UNDP, New York.
He added, “We don’t need jobless, voiceless, ruthless, rootless and futureless economic growth from a human development perspective. Inclusive growth is what we needed for human development. Five criteria fundamental to inclusive growth are, firstly, it should be a growth process where people have the opportunity of participating and contributing. Secondly, People should be equitably rewarded the benefits of economic growth. Third, the rate of growth of the bottom 20% should be faster than the rate of growth of income of any part of the society. Fourth, inclusive growth ensures avoiding, reducing, limiting, destroying the choices of future generations. Our current living is borrowed from the future generations through natural resources and other means. Inclusive growth must ensure the similar or even better times of choices for the future generations. Also, the issue of gender equality should be in the centre of economic inclusive growth as it is a serious economic and development issue. Finally, there has to be equitable growth in terms of both opportunities and in terms of outcome and equitable distribution. It is not an issue of capitalism; it’s an issue of democracy, so the growth process is equitable in terms of participation as well as in terms of benefits.”
Dr. Selim Jahan was addressing at the Launching of the 18th Human Development Report of South Asia, prepared by Pakistan’s Mahbub Ul Haq Human Development Centre based in Lahore, Pakistan, titled The Economy and the People, organized by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University in Dhaka on December 22, 2015.
Raising questions on the capabilities of economic growth, Dr. Selim Jahan said, over the last 30 years, the economic growth of south Asian region has gone up more than 300 percent, three times. The rate of human development according to UN Human Development index in this region, it has gone up by 1.5 times which means, the rate of growth of the economy has been twice than the rate of growth of human well being. The fundamental question arises here, that what went wrong? The economic growth has to be translated into the lives of the people. Economic growth is means; it is not an end in itself. The major contribution of economic growth should be basically to enhance the lives of people.
He concluded by saying, the human development paradigm, the human development framework, the human development reports have taken the less travelled road, we hope, we have been, we are and will be making a difference. The kind of the choices we make today with regard to our economy our society individually and collectively would determine the kind of the world that we would be living tomorrow for the future generations. Because in the ultimate analysis, human destiny is a choice, and not a chance.
Earlier in the introductory speech, Mr. M Syeduzzaman, Member, Board of Advisors, Mahbub ul Haq Centre welcomed the guests and remembered the veteran economist Late Mr. Muhbub Ul Haq, founder and the Chief Architect of UNDP Human Development Report. He added, with a special focus on South Asia, Mahbub ul Haq Centre is a policy research institute and think tank committed to the promotion of the human development paradigm as a powerful tool for advocating people centered development policy nationally and regionally. Believing in the shared history and the shared destination of the people of this region, he was convinced for the need of cooperation among the seven countries in the region, his vision extended to a comparative analysis of the region annually in terms of socio-economic development. He said this year’s report addresses the issue of connection between economic growth and people’s lives. The Report critically analyses the record of economic growth and human development in South Asia for the last three decades from 1980 to 2010. Besides providing an overall South Asia profile, the Report presents a detailed record of economic growth and social development in five countries: India, Pakistan Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He also thanked BIGD for its advocacy role of the report in Dhaka.
Chaired by Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD, the report was officially launched followed by the introductory part. Farria Naeem, IGC Bangladesh Country Economist made a presentation on the key findings and recommendations of the report.
In the concluding remarks, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman said, in today’s endangered planet, the biggest contribution of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was that it took the focus away from narrow economic targets and it has brought much wider range of issues and turned the address of the economists towards narrative. Anything less than narrative is just not enough to deal the entire challenge of structural transformation of societies. Also taking away natural resources from future generations through over consuming is one of the biggest challenges for development theories and practices. So to embrace the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and address the huge new dimension created through the activities of arrogance as human beings such as endangering future, we need to focus on much greater public actions which means, both the government and its political machinery, political leaders of the country and the civil society must play active role. Now is the high time than any time in the past that we should collectively address the new dimension with strong policy actions.
Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, former Governor, Bangladesh Bank; Dr. Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury, former Secretary; Professor Quazi Faruque Ahmed, Chairman, Initiative for Human Development (IHD) participated in the Q/A session.
Distinguished guests, among others, attended included Mr. Pierre MAYAUDON, Ambassador, Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh; Mr. Hussein Hyderali, AKDN; Md. Asaduzzaman, Head of DFED; Md. Akhtaruzzaman, Programme Manager, UN Habitat; Ms. Shaila Khan, Assistant Country Director, UNDP.
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