Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Economic development & gross national happiness models are pertinent

Dr M. Suresh Babu, President, Praja Science Vedika

The idea of prioritizing happiness-induced development over purely economic development is aligned with the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which was introduced by the Kingdom of Bhutan. The GNH framework emphasizes the importance of holistic well-being, taking into account not just economic factors but also social, environmental, and cultural dimensions.

Advocates for a happiness-induced development model argue that focusing solely on economic growth may not necessarily lead to improved overall well-being and life satisfaction. Gross National happiness model could be considered more pertinent, especially for a country like India.

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Well-being of citizens at the centre

 A happiness-induced development model places the well-being of citizens at the centre, focusing on factors such as health, education, and quality of life. This approach recognizes that the ultimate goal of development is to enhance the lives of individuals and communities.

 Economic development measures such as GDP per capita do not capture the full picture of citizens’ quality of life. A happiness-based model considers factors like mental health, work-life balance, and social connections, providing a more comprehensive assessment of well-being.

 Emphasizing happiness and well-being can contribute to the development of stronger social ties and community bonds. Social cohesion is vital for a harmonious society and can positively impact various aspects of development, including education, healthcare, and crime rates.

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Sustainable development

 A focus on happiness often aligns with sustainable development practices. By considering environmental and social factors, this model promotes a more balanced and sustainable approach to growth that takes into account the long-term consequences of economic activities.

 While economic indicators like GDP provide a quantitative measure of a country’s progress, happiness metrics provide a qualitative perspective. Measuring happiness can offer insights into the effectiveness of policies and initiatives in improving people’s lives.

 Internationally, there is a growing recognition of the limitations of relying solely on economic indicators. Organizations and countries are increasingly exploring alternative metrics like happiness and well-being to assess development progress.

However, implementing a happiness-induced development model comes with its challenges. Defining and measuring happiness is complex, and cultural variations may influence perceptions of well-being. Additionally, striking a balance between economic growth and other dimensions of development is essential.

While economic development remains crucial, integrating a happiness-induced development model can provide a more holistic and people-centric approach to fostering well-being and progress in India.

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Viksit Bharat

The launch of Viksit Bharat and the goal of making India a developed nation by 2047, the 100th year of its Independence, indeed mark an ambitious and exciting initiative. However, the debate surrounding the emphasis on economic development and the Euro-centric nature of development models is an important discussion. It’s crucial to consider a more holistic and context-specific approach to development, taking into account the diverse needs and aspirations of the Indian population.

The post-developmental argument against overemphasizing economic development aligns with the broader critique of conventional growth-centric models. Considerations that could be taken into account in reimagining Viksit Bharat are holistic well being, cultural diversity, environmental sustainability, inclusive growth, participatory governance, human development and balanced urbanization.

 Beyond economic indicators, the development model should prioritize the overall well-being of citizens. This includes aspects such as health, education, social cohesion, cultural preservation, and mental well-being.

 India is a diverse nation with a rich cultural heritage. Development initiatives should embrace and preserve this diversity, recognizing that different regions and communities may have distinct needs and priorities.

 The emphasis on seizing opportunities in the Green Revolution is a positive step, but sustainability should be integrated across all aspects of development planning. Balancing economic growth with environmental conservation is crucial for long-term prosperity.

 While competitiveness is important, development should not leave certain sections of society behind. Inclusive growth ensures that the benefits of development reach all strata of the population, reducing inequality and promoting social justice.

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Citizen participation

Governance reforms should include mechanisms for increased citizen participation. Inclusive decision-making processes ensure that the voices of all communities are heard, fostering a sense of ownership and accountability.

 The focus on structural transformation and labour markets should also consider human development aspects, such as education and skill development. A well-educated and skilled workforce is essential for sustained economic growth and social progress.

While urbanization is a part of structural transformation, it should be balanced with rural development to prevent the concentration of resources and opportunities in urban areas. Recognizing the value of cultural and social capital in development can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of progress. This includes the preservation of cultural heritage, social relationships, and community bonds.

Reimagining Viksit Bharat should involve a broad national dialogue that takes into account the perspectives of various stakeholders, including marginalized communities, environmentalists, cultural experts, and social scientists. By incorporating a more inclusive and context-specific approach, India can strive towards a development model that not only achieves economic prosperity but also enhances the overall quality of life for its citizens in a sustainable and culturally sensitive manner.

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Dr. M. Suresh Babu
Dr. M. Suresh Babu
Dr. M. Suresh Babu has been a Professor, Dean and Principal in various engineering colleges and institutions in Hyderabad and Anantapur. His approach to teaching is “For the student, by the student and to the student.” He is associated with several Civil Society Organizations like Praja Science Vedika and Election Watch.



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