Human Development Index and COVID-19

COVID came up with the largest dip in economic and social activities
"COVID-19 pandemic is not merely a global health emergency cum shock but a universal human development crisis. It replicates our interface with our environment that surrounds us and our ecosystem we are a part of. " [Image for representational purpose only]
"COVID-19 pandemic is not merely a global health emergency cum shock but a universal human development crisis. It replicates our interface with our environment that surrounds us and our ecosystem we are a part of. " [Image for representational purpose only] File/ANI

The Human Development Index was developed to make us aware of the fact that economic development is a matter of people and their capabilities. The Human Development Index is beyond what is seen and observed. It crosses the boundaries of economic growth.

It can also be used to question national health policy choices, asking questions such as how countries with the same level of GNI per capita indicators can end up with different health development results.

Such comparisons can promote a policy debate about government policy priorities in the first place and health priorities (COVID-19 priorities) in the second place. We can measure health dimension by parameters such as life expectancy, mean years of schooling, and gross national income per capita.

Similarly, we can assess the health dimension during COVID-19 by focusing on life expectancy at birth, years of schooling, and gross national income per capita. The three HDI scores are then aggregated into a composite index making use of geometric mean. Hence, HDI is the geometric mean of normalized indices for each of the above mentioned three parameters.

But, the fact is that the COVID-19 pandemic is unchecking human development issues. With COVID-19 increasing with every passing day, the world has hit very hard on all human development constituents. COVID-19 came up with the largest dip in economic and social activities that had worse repercussions than the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

Furthermore, health effects include direct causation of death toll in great numbers and indirect causation of other bad upshots such as efficacious out of school rates. COVID-19 was placed over unresolved tussles between economy and technology, globalization and technology, people and economy, and poor and rich.

These tussles are already governing COVID-19 on one hand and income disparities on another hand. This will be reflected in the Human Development Report 2021/22 focusing on the different socio-economic issues under the title “uncertain times, unsettled lives: shaping our future in a world in Transformation.”

It will be explored through Human Development Report 2021/22 how uncertainties in the Anthropocene are changing, what are the governing factors, and how it is related with human development. As far as uncertainties are concerned the best example is that of COVID-19 Pandemic creating havoc every now and then (especially Anthropocene). The upcoming Human Development Report will explore how climate changes such as COVID-19 interact with human development and its allied issues (particularly inequalities in human development).

COVID-19 pandemic is not merely a global health emergency cum shock but a universal human development crisis. It replicates our interface with our environment that surrounds us and our ecosystem we are a part of. They are already impacting the social, economic, and political dimensions of development in unparalleled means.

If we want to understand human development and COVID-19 nexus we must first understand and then develop policies to reduce susceptibilities and at the same time build both short run and long run capabilities to tackle crises.

It will have a dual effect: On one hand it will enable individuals and societies to better withstand and get better from these shocks. On the other hand, it will help in improving our livelihood securities. There are many foundation stones of human development and healthy and long life is one of those foundations.

The main goal of the Human Development Index is conversion of temporary economic gains into permanent gains of human development. COVID-19 pandemic has compressed one of the core foundations of the human development notion i.e. a healthy and long life. In COVID-19, United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index (HDI) has shown its momentary face.

The unmatched COVID-19 blow has brought to forefront a crack in the protective human development covering, and if unchecked, can rub the gains made in augmenting capabilities and choices of humans in a jiffy.

Health experts cum planners must devise a measure or method within Human Development Index called ‘Pandemic Arrangement’, which will evaluate and rank countries on tripartite main valuations of public health dimensions and political economy basis, showcasing political and economic aspects and powers too, to tackle any shock in near future.

Dr. Binish Qadri, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Kashmir

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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