New Delhi: India is set to create a social progress index (SPI) that will mirror the track record of individual states on various counts which is likely to emerge as a tool for accountability in governance and politics, according to Harvard economist Michael E. Porter, who is working with federal policy think tank Niti Aayog on the subject.
In 2016, India, like China and Russia, lagged behind in social progress compared to what their respective level of economic prosperity warranted unlike countries such as Finland and Costa Rica that have over-performed, Porter said, citing a global social progress index that he and two others developed.
At a lecture organized by Niti Aayog and India Competitiveness Forum that is associated with the Harvard University, Porter said although there was correlation between national income and social progress, higher incomes do not automatically ensure social progress.
In 2016, the world lagged behind in social indicators such as inclusion, individual rights and access to advanced education but excelled in nutrition, basic medical care and access to basic knowledge, Porter said, quoting the index.
Niti Aayog chief executive Amitabh Kant, who was present on the occasion, said that the proposed India index will bring spotlight on the worst performing districts and prompt states to compete for the overall development of the nation. Without the worst performing districts turning around, India cannot sustain high growth over the next three decades, Kant said.
“The only way India can improve is when we measure states against states and make them compete. We should name and shame administrations that lag behind in performance," Kant said, adding that the electorate should exercise their franchise decisively against governments that do not perform.
Describing the Modi administration as “outcome-oriented" Porter said that although India has made significant economic progress during the last few years, removing poverty remained a challenge as building prosperity was a marathon and may take decades.
Porter said that after a point, economic prosperity will lead to new challenges such as pollution and lifestyle diseases that will make further improvement in social development tougher, unless conscious policy decisions are taken. He said Kerala topped social progress in India, while Bihar needed to catch up. The proposed index will take into account track record of states in basic human needs such as nutrition, shelter, personal safety and drinking water, foundations of well being such as gender parity and literacy as well as opportunities available to citizens including personal rights and access to advanced education.
“The country is making good progress on the macroeconomic policy front despite challenging global context... But building prosperity is a marathon. It takes decades," said Porter, who is regarded as one of the world’s foremost thinkers on management and competitiveness