Social, Religious and Ethnic Divisions Widen Inequalities in South Asia South Asia

Feb 24, 2011

New Delhi - 'In societies such as South Asia that remain deeply entrenched in social, religious and ethnic divisions, economic growth alone cannot eliminate inequalities.' This was the verdict of Union Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram speaking at the culmination of the SAARC round of the 13th Mahbub ul Haq Memorial Inter School Debate in New Delhi today. “The Human Development Index is therefore unavoidable and imperative measure in any assessment of a country’s progress”, he added.

The 13th Mahbub ul Haq Memorial Inter‐School was jointly organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies. Following national rounds, students from six SAARC countries ‐ Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka debated on the final motion for the house “In South Asia high growth rates alone will not ensure elimination of inequality”. Across the region, more than 1000 schools participated in the debates.

Ladies School, Sri Lanka was declared winners of the debate, followed by Delhi Public School, Jodhpur, India in second place. Ankit Raghubanshi from Golden Gate International school, Nepal was judged best speaker “For” the motion and Saran Tenzin Taman from Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School, Bhutan was the best speaker “Against” the motion. Speaking at the prize distribution ceremony Ajay Chhibber, UN Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific said “Progress on human development is possible in countries which have not experienced high rates of growth in incomes. Institutions, policies and politics – and their interaction with global technological progress and diffusion of ideas – all play a role in influencing this linkage”.

As Ankit Raghubanshi pointed out, “economic growth has undoubtedly created prosperity and ensured we have warm beds and hospitals but it hasn’t given all of us greater access to them.” As a participant highlighted “not everyone can become a slumdog millionaire, what we need are people friendly policies, not money friendly policies”.

About UNDP

UNDP is the UN's global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. Working on the ground in 166 countries, the organization supports national partners to address development challenges and achieve the MDG.

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Nandita Surendran