GDP and its Alternative

Gross domestic product is a misleading measure of national success”, Robert Costanza and colleagues write in Nature’s issue of 15th January 2014. This sounds interesting and make us think about it very seriously. The well being of every individual on earth should be the motto of all national governments. Gross Domestic Product was devised during 1930-40 to gauge the effects of economic development. Until now, no substitute to GDP has been adopted anywhere. The intellectuals of the world debate on its validity in measuring the well being of the people. There are numerous issues which it does not address. Indicators of national progress should focus on health, well being, happiness and earnings. The widening rich poor divide is bringing untold miseries to the people who by chance cannot earn handsomely. The life of poor people becomes a living hell with the rising prices and unemployment. Majority of them pass on this condition to the next generation in many developing countries.

Bhutan is one of the torch bearers of change in this regard and had replaced GDP as the only indicator of national progress since 1971 and brought in another concept of gross national happiness (GNH) which relies on spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment. There is an urgent need to devise an index eminently suited to judge the overall economic development, gap between rich and poor, health and well being, quality of life and preservation of environment which should be able to replace GDP. Hope very shortly we are going to find one such index.

Professor S. P. Singh, Ph.D.
Editor-in-Chief, Human Biology Review
Former Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences,
Punjabi University, Patiala, India

 

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