What is the HDI?

The human development index (HDI) is a composite index that measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth; knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate and the combined gross enrolment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools; and a decent standard of living, as measured by GDP per capita in purchasing power parity (PPP) US dollars.

Importance
HDI serves the following purposes.
• To capture the attention of policy makers, media and NGOs and to draw their attention away from the more usual economic statistics to focus instead on human outcomes. The HDI was created to re-emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth.
• To question national policy choices – asking how two countries with the same level of income per person can end up with such different human development outcomes (HDI levels). For example, Viet Nam and Pakistan have similar levels of income per person, but life expectancy and literacy differ greatly between the two countries, with Viet Nam having a much higher HDI value than Pakistan. These striking contrasts immediately stimulate debate on government policies on health and education, asking why what is achieved in one country is far from the reach of another.
• To highlight wide differences within countries, between provinces or states, across gender, ethnicity, and other socioeconomic groupings. Highlighting internal disparities along these lines has raised national debate in many countries.

Drawbacks
The HDI does not reflect political participation or gender inequalities. The HDI and the other composite indices can only offer a broad proxy on some of the key the issues of human development, gender disparity, and human poverty.

HD Report 2005
The US has been given the 10th rank, China 85th and India 127th rank. China and India falls in the category of medium human development while US in high human development.

Conclusion & suggestions
We have a long way to go in the path of human development. With more than 50% of population poor, we really have a long path. The government needs to put in more funds for developing backward areas and it has to seek the help of the private sector in this development process. Only a development process with public private partnership will be successful. India needs to reform its education sector mainly requires more qualified teachers who have to be given adequate remuneration. The current wages for teachers need to be revised. Education is an important tool for enhancing growth in a country and also the most efficient way.
For sustenance we need proper health care centres and good hospitals and medical colleges. We need to have efficient and innovative pharmaceutical companies who should be willing to reduce the exorbitant rates of medicines.
To enable connectivity, proper transport must be readily and cheaply available. Roads must be well laid and rural connectivity must be specifically implemented with haste.
The central, state and the local self governments need to work together to achieve high rates of human development and growth!

References
HDR 2005

Irrational exuberance

I had come across the term ‘irrational exuberance’ many a times in newspapers and magazines in recent times. Today I decided to look up what it means.
The Oxford dictionary defines “irrational” as ‘without reason’ and “exuberance” as ‘full of high spirits or growing profusely.’

Origin of the term
The term “irrational exuberance” derives from some words that Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, used in a black-tie dinner speech entitled “The Challenge of Central Banking in a Democratic Society” before the American Enterprise Institute at the Washington Hilton Hotel December 5, 1996.
Fourteen pages into this long speech, which was televised live on C-SPAN, he posed a rhetorical question: “But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade?” He added that “We as central bankers need not be concerned if a collapsing financial asset bubble does not threaten to impair the real economy, its production, jobs and price stability.”
Immediately after he said this, the stock market in Tokyo, which was open as he gave this speech, fell sharply, and closed down 3%. Hong Kong fell 3%. Then markets in Frankfurt and London fell 4%. The stock market in the US fell 2% at the open of trade. The strong reaction of the markets to Greenspan’s seemingly harmless question was widely noted, and made the term irrational exuberance famous.

In the limelight
In the year 2000, Robert J. Shiller authored a book titled “Irrational exuberance”. It was about the society’s obsession with the stock market and how it fuelled volatility in the financial markets. He said the people were infatuated with the stock markets and had forgotten about the potential of real assets, such as income from our livelihoods and homes.
In recent times, the newspapers and magazines have repeatedly been using this term when writing about the stock markets, especially regarding its volatility. I have seen it in The Hindu Business Line and Frontline in recent years.

Is it significant?
I feel it’s the apt word for the recent volatility in the stock markets. It tells us the reason for the increased presence of volatility in the markets and it’s not because of important changes in the economy or the company that the share prices fluctuate. Market news and sentiments of the people affect the market too. Neither should a market with strong fundamentals nor investors who have fundamentals resort to irrational behaviour.

JNU Entrance Exam: Essays

This post is meant for all those who could not get the previous question papers of JNU and for those who want to know what kind of essay questions are asked usually for the test. The examiners look for critical answers. Without some knowledge in the following mentioned areas, it would be difficult to give an opinionated answer.(You are required to answer only one essay: Marks alotted for an essay is 20)

2005
1) The need for a universal employment guarantee scheme in rural India
2) Business process outsourcing
3) Why India’s foreign exchange reserves are increasing
4) Utility possibility curves
5) The new patents regime in India
6) Competitive markets and optimality

2004
1) Why are prices for comparable good lower in poorer countries?
2) Discuss the relation between the Great Depression and Keynes’ theory
3) How does the Government of India define the poverty line? Do you agree with it? Discuss.
4) Discuss the rationale of the strategy of import substituting industrialisation in India during the 1950s and 1960s.
5) Discuss the concept of exploitation in Marx.

2003
1) The idea of Sustainable Development
2) The public distribution system in India
3) Causes of Unemployment in India
4) The impact of trade in Agriculture on Indian Agriculture
5) Parliamentary Democracy

2002(These are not the exact questions)

1) A note on Poverty ratio, Poverty indicators and poverty alleviations programmes.
2) Second 5 year plan.
3) Green revolution

2001(Most of them are not exact questions)
1) Food grain stocks.
2) ‘A Pareto optimal state may be perfectly disgusting.’ Comment
3) Opposition to big dams
4) Combination of scholarship/loans better than subsidised educational system
5) Is reduction in fiscal deficit necessary for high growth?
6) Need to redistribute land to the tiller in India.
7) Full employment is incompatible with the functioning of a capitalist economy.
8] Why is log-normal distribution the preferred distribution function for personal incomes?
9) What is meant by “Crowding out of private investment”?

All the best to those who are preparing for the entrance next year! Please provide your view points on these topics, after quoting the question, so that interested students can get information on these topics. Please post your comments. They are important to all!

Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights a.k.a TRIPS

TRIPS is the commonly used acronym for Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights. When ever a meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) commences, TRIPS come under the scrutiny of columnists and journalists. Why is that? What is this thing that so often stirs up a hornets nest? These are questions which every individual might ask.

According to the WTO, “Intellectual property rights are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.”
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) was first negotiated in WTO’s 1986-94 Uruguay Round.

The reasons behind the need for TRIPS, given by the WTO is that “The extent of protection and enforcement of these rights varied widely around the world; and as intellectual property became more important in trade, these differences became a source of tension in international economic relations. New internationally-agreed trade rules for intellectual property rights were seen as a way to introduce more order and predictability, and for disputes to be settled more systematically.”

TRIPS has introduced the following standards of protection.

1) Copyright
2) Trademarks
3) Geographical indications
4) Industrial designs
5) Patents
6) Integrated circuits layout designs
7) Undisclosed information and trade secrets

(For more details on these measures visit the WTO web site)

(An example of an Indian Geographical indication is Basmati Rice, Darjeeling Tea, Kanchipuram Silk Saree, etc.)

These measures have been advocated so as to reward and promote creativity and innovations. How far they have rewarded creativity is debatable. These measures provide them rights over their own inventions.

My concerns
One major reason for me to be concerned is because these TRIPS agreement took place during the early Globalisation years (1986-94). This was a period of liberalisation, privatisation and market integration with the global economy for many developing nations like India, China, Argentina, etc. India became a member of WTO on January 1, 1995.This was a period where the ‘Creativity Economy’ was booming. Getting hold of patents, copyrights etc is a time consuming and tedious task, especially in the developing countries as the flow of processes and services were not very advanced and smooth. The developed nations exploited this opportunity. They protected themselves by gathering a lot of patents and copyrights, which made manufacturing and allied activities difficult for the developing countries. The rich nations enjoyed a comparative advantage over the poor ones and also widened the inequalities, in their quest to become economic and political superpowers.

Has TRIPS benefited the common man? Have they significantly improved the growth of the Indian economy?