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A Human Development Measures: From Advocacy to Policy Monitoring at Country Level
Rajeev Malhotra
The idea of development as expansion of capabilities and freedoms is widely recognized as an important ‘‘breakthrough’’ idea in the field of development economics. What has been the influence of this idea? There is little doubt about the wide agreement on the values of human dignity and freedom. But has the human development approach influenced the way economists analyse development problems and policy options? In this paper, I explore how concepts of capability and human development has influenced global debates about poverty, and in particular the World Bank’s analysis of poverty that appears every 10 years in its flagship publications, namely the World Development Reports (WDRs) 1980, 1990 and 2000. I show that there has been a substantial shift to using the capability perspective but also that the income perspective continues to dominate. attainments and provide a more effective tool in guiding policy and strategic framework for implementing a human development approach at the country level. The emphasis is not so much on the numbers at the sub-national level that the various indices generate in the said Report. It is rather on highlighting the relevance of using contextualized measures—their conceptualization and methodology for estimation—in undertaking country level analysis. A major objective of this paper, as well as the Report it draws on, is to bring about a certain consensus on the use of the human development approach in India in general, and the framework for identifying appropriate indicators and building composite human development indices at the State level, in particular.

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