Improving Quality of Development:
Perspectives from Operations Management
According to the United Nation's global development network, UNDP, an organization advocating for change and to help people build a better life, the Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary composite index that measures a country's average achievements in three basic aspects of human development: health, knowledge, and income (http://hdr.undp.org). The HDI emphasizes that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone. It therefore brings into question the choices of national policies by a government.
2 Components of Human Development Index
The three basic components are health, education and living standards. The component of health is measured in terms of the indicator: Life Expectancy at Birth. The component of education is measured by two indicators: Mean Years of Schooling, and Expected Years of Schooling. The third component, living standards, is measured in terms of Gross National Income per Capita (refer Exhibit 1).
Exhibit 1: Human Development Index and its Components
3 How has India Fared?
A pertinent question in this regards is: how has India fared on HDI in the recent past? On the basis of 2010 Human Development Report, a comparative analysis of India on HDI and its components is shown with respect to the following countries: China, Bangladesh, USA and Argentina (refer Exhibit 2). The choice of these countries is based on the classification of countries provided by the Human Development Report.
Exhibit 2: Comparative Analysis of Select Countries on Human Development Index and its Components (Source: http://hdr.undp.org)
As per the classification provided, India and China are classified as “Medium Human Development” countries, Bangladesh is classified as “Low”, and USA is classified as “Very High”. While these classifications do not appear surprising, an interesting case is that of Argentina, which is classified in the “High” category. A comparison of India with Argentina (and also with other countries) on various parameters indicates that education emerges as a clear differentiator between India and the more developed countries. For instance, the mean years of schooling (years that a 25-year-old person or older has spent in schools) for India are 4.4 years, while that for Argentina is 9.3 years. Similarly, expected years of schooling (years that a 5-year-old child will spend with his education in his whole life) for the two countries are 10.3 and 15.5, respectively. Similar comparative measures can be brought about by analyzing the other two indices of health and income. Since education appears to be a salient factor differentiating various countries, let us examine it in some detail here.
4 What Are We Doing in Terms of School
In recent years, Government of India has increased allocation to education sector to nearly 6% of GDP. The allocation has been increased from Rs. 152,847 crores in 2004-05 to Rs. 372,813 crores in 2009-10. Out of this, nearly 45% of the allocation is dedicated to elementary education. It is pertinent to mention here a remarkable step taken by the government with the introduction of Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009. This act provides right to free and compulsory education for children in the age group of six to fourteen years.
The RTE Act 2009 puts extensive infrastructure norms on the schools based on the parameters such as classrooms, office room, store room, headmaster Room, kitchen, teaching-learning material, games and sports equipments, books in library, periodicals, newspapers, drinking water facility, number of urinals and lavatories separately for boys and Girls, etc. However, while the very idea of right to education is laudable, questions have been raised about...