Thursday, August 23, 2012

GDP measures everything “...except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Our Gross National Product...counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities..., and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. 
Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Robert F. Kennedy, speech at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968

This is even more relevant in the context of developing countries like India, where leading politicians still talk about maintaining the rate of growth of GDP or even increasing. In the context of the diversity of cultures, values, deprivation that exists in this country... we need to look at development with a different lens...I do not have answers here but questions questions questions!!

Really what does development mean to us?