Human Development Index and Pakistan

By Inayatullah

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a measure of life expectancy, education, and per capita income: indicators which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development. Although HDI was the brainchild of a Pakistani Economist Dr. Mahbub ul Haq and his Indian counterpart Amartya Sen yet the country ranks abysmally low on this index. Pakistan ranked on 152nd position out of 189 countries and territories on HDI even lower than Afghanistan who ranked on 135th position. This is due to the country’s low educational level, below average per capita income and mediocre life expectancy level. 

Pakistan stands as follows on these three indicators which form the Human Development Index. Our literacy rate hovers around 60 percent which is the lowest in the region except Afghanistan. People who can just read or write the text of any language are also included in the list of literate people due to the obsolete definition of literacy in Pakistan. The per capita income of the country fell from $1652 in FY-2018 to $1357 in FY-2019, thanks to the Khan’s Naya Pakistan initiative. The life expectancy in the country is 67 years, again the lowest in the region except for the war-torn Afghanistan. The inclusion of Bangladesh in SAARC back in 2007 has given one benefit to Pakistan. Now, our leaders assert that look we are not the poor performers in the region with regards to different social and economic indicators. There is still one country lagging behind us in South Asia and that is Afghanistan.  

Human Resource Development has never been the priority of any government in the country. With the focus to utilize the potential of our human capital, the educational level and the per capita income of the people will increase. These will increase the standards of living of our masses, which in turn increases their life expectancy, leading to increase in Human Development Index. Politics of Patronage has greatly hampered the development of our human resources. Voters in the country expect that their representatives will help them in getting a government job through nepotism, and this mindset halts them from being a productive person.

Furthermore, our growing population is also one of the reasons of low Human Development Index. According to the last census, the population growth rate of Pakistan was 2.4 percent whereas the population growth rate of Bangladesh was 1 pc and that of India was 1.2 pc during the same time period. The per capita income is the ratio of National Income and population of the country. As population grows, the per capita income falls leading to lower Human Development Index. This is one of the reasons that per capita income of Pakistan has remained stagnant.

It is the need of the time country should be run through true democratic principles where everyone enjoys equality in terms of opportunity. Politicians should restrict themselves as law-makers and not as job providers so that the talented and hardworking people can get into the desired services and professions. In addition, the Pakistani youth should change their ambitions instead of being a nation of warriors to a nation of entrepreneurs, professionals, traders, managers and people who actually generate wealth, prosperity and happiness. In this way, we can improve our Human Development Index and live a respectable way of life among the comity of nations.

The writer is an MS scholar pursing his degree in Economics from University of Balochistan

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