Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore Are Ahead of India in Human Development Index?

The Batu Caves and the Murugan Statue 
enroute Genting Highlands from Kuala Lumpur -Malaysia

Human Development Index (HDI) is an socio-economic factor that the economists use to measure the quality of life in any nation. In accordance with the overall governance and management practices, this index keep changing and has a maximum value of one. Any country which has achieved a HDI of 0.7 (70%) or more could be considered as having a high human development. There are 100 odd nations in the world now that has achieved this level.

HDI is a factor which takes in to account three basic human development aspects, namely, the life expectancy at birth, the adult literacy and the standard of living of the people as deduced from the per capita gross domestic product (GDP)

In Asia, just two countries have an HDI near 90%. They are Singapore and Japan. Besides these Asian countries the other Asian nations that have a high HDI are Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and China. (See the comparative list of nations according to HDI in this Wikipedia article). 

My country, India stands at the 135th position with an HDI of about 58%. All Indians, especially those well-to-do Indians and those in power and leadership positions should feel ashamed of this! In my opinion, their achievements are nothing praiseworthy when their nation as a whole is not up to some decent mark among the 200 odd nations of the world! 

A couple of days ago, me and my wife together with another colleague and his wife took some pains to visit two neighboring nations, namely, Malaysia and Thailand. These two nations, though smaller in area and population as compared to India have more or less similar geography and demography. Unlike India, they are kingdoms or more precisely, constitutional monarchies with democratic governments. 

Genting Ropeway (Skyway)-view from another rope way cabin

In the last quarter-a-century these Asian nations have progressed much in HDI where as India with all its various advantages lagged pitifully behind. 

When we toured some parts of these nations, especially their respective capitals and a few other nearby cities, we could make out and feel the physical difference. We were feeling the difference of a higher HDI physically. 

Inside First World Plaza-Genting, Malaysia 

Malaysia has a per capita GDP which is over seven times that of India. Thailand's per capita GDP is also over three times that of India. (See the GDP comparison in this Wikipedia article

Kuala Lumpur City View from Hotel Room Window-
the Petronas Twin Towers at the background

The Petronas Twins-Near View

Governmental decision making is perhaps quite faster in Malaysia which is a constitutional monarchy (kingdom) as compared to the slow and directionless processes of many wholly democratic nations such as India. This might be true for Thailand as well.

The author in front of the mounted palace guard of 

Pattaya Beach-Thailand

The Baiyoke Tower-2 in Bangkok, the tallest in Thailand

Both Malaysia and Thailand are member countries of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Malaysia has the Ringgit as its currency ( 1 Ringgit = 20 Indian Rupees) whereas Thailand has the Baht as its currency (1 Baht= 2 Indian Rupees. See the online currency conversion here) 

Now coming to the fundamental question. Why is India behind these ASEAN nations of Asia in its Human Development Index (HDI)? Perhaps some 30-40 years ago, all these nations were either at par or below the level of India. But during these years almost all nations have gone ahead of India while India has not. Indian leaders keep boasting of their warfare capabilities and many such things. But the reality is that India has not achieved any remarkable HDI which it could have very well achieved by this time.

The only reason in my opinion is the weakness of Indians at all levels to get the best from the people. Indian attitudes are highly negative when it comes to honoring others and making others motivated to perform. 

There are many in India who feel happy (for various reasons!) when their good people migrate to other nations. They do not think of the consequences of such large scale migrations and loss of experienced and knowledgeable people from its fold.

Then why is this taking place? One may say that the opportunities are better in other places. But why can't we have the opportunities for the people to prove their mettle in their home land? 

Indians in general have a leg-pulling nature. They do not allow their fellow men to prosper. In my opinion this comes from some of their deep rooted fears. My fellow men and women are all a fearful lot- a fear that they cannot explain! That fear makes them suspicious about every other! Thus collectively they suffer!

Indians in general do not allow best teams of individuals to be formed who can perform the best. It never happens and it is especially true for all government and public organizations. They prefer to make teams comprising of a mixture of the best and the worst individuals. The result is always getting an average of 50% and nothing better!

My fellow men (and women) do not realize the modern principles of human resource development (HR) science. Even if they know it in theory, they are fearful and reluctant to practice it!

India is the only country where reservations and favoritism can substitute or override merit. Where merit has no value in the real sense, how can it make the meritorious to outperform? 

India does not value qualities of people in general. The essential 4-C's of leadership, Competency, Character, Courage and Compassion has no value in the Indian mind!

In India, the meritorious has to work with non meritorious counterparts. This soon makes the former to lower his or her own level to match with the inferior kinds. Can you get your cart going smoothly when it is pulled by one healthy and one sick pair of oxen together? 

India and Indians have to change their mindsets if they want to progress and keep pace with the majority of nations of this world.

Otherwise, the super rich and super power persons of India are no better than their extreme poor and extreme illiterate cousins!

In my opinion, it is nothing very big to achieve. If Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand could do it, Indians too could do it much better. Only if they have a desire to do and achieve it!

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