Sri Lanka Leads South Asia in Human and Economic Development
|Per Capita GDPs South Asia Region Source: Economist|
Sri Lanka's per capita income has quintupled over the last two decades from about $700 to $3500, significantly outperforming all other South Asian economies. During the same period, Pakistan's per capita GDP has increased from $500 to $1300 while India's is up from $400 to $1400.
In addition to its high per capita GDP for the South Asia region, Sri Lanka has also excelled on Human Development Index (HDI), a key indicator of social development assessed each year by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
|Human Development Index in South Asia Source: UNDP|
By contrast, both India and Pakistan continue to lag Sri Lanka in terms of both economic and social indicators. India's economy has slowed in recent years. India's per capita GDP has shrunk in US dollar terms this year, significantly reducing the gap with Pakistan whose GDP has also seen slow growth since 2008. India suffers from low levels of human development with a rank of 136 among 187 countries. Pakistan ranks even lower at 146.
|GDP Per Capita in US$ Source: World Bank|
While India's human development is still low, it has continued to make steady progress in the last two decades. Pakistan's human development progress briefly accelerated in years 2000-2007 on President Musharraf's watch. Pakistan's HDI grew an average rate of 2.7% per year under President Musharraf from 2000 to 2007, and then its pace slowed to 0.7% per year in 2008 to 2012 under elected politicians, according to the 2013 Human Development Report titled “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”. Going further back to the decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP, the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.
There is much Pakistan can learn from Sri Lanka's record on human and economic development as well as fighting violent insurgencies. It is especially important today as its economy and education suffer in the midst of a growing Taliban violence that threatens the very existence of Pakistan.
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