Development Dialogue

Development Dialogue is a language of contemporary discourses on human development which aims to stimulate each entity of the society for a new history of humanity. It stands for communicating the problems that people face and hence is more value-based than other units of human life. Envisioned with better quality of human life it admires the imagination of ordinary citizens, their daily concerns and necessities and circulate these elements in policy articulation.

12:27 PM

Millennium Development Goals




When Millennium Development Goals were formulated, many people expected that the number of  hungry people will be halved  by 2015. Today this goal still remains a challenge as progress to end hunger has stopped in most regions. According to statistics, around 925 million people worldwide  suffer  from hunger. In Nepal the  undernourished population  is estimated to be 3,33 million. To make  matters worse, the prices of agricultural commodities such as wheat or corn has been constantly rising making difficult for the poorest people to feed themselves.  For example, global  prices for  corn and wheat have increased by as much as 50% since June, 2012.

High food prices is a  huge problem for developing  countries that have  to import food to support their growing populations. There are many families which   spend 60-80 percent of their income on food. In these situations, higher prices can  hit very  hard. Families  have to cut the number of meals they have a day and spend less on schooling and medicine. The G20 group of nations are planning to hold a meeting to formulate  a  response to the rising food prices in September. But are  world leaders  capable of finding  a long-lasting  solution?


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3:51 AM

RIGHT'S WITHOUT BORDER'S




It is a basic realization of the current world order that every human being on the globe has basic human rights which cannot be denied no matter what their geographical location, colour or creed.
Nevertheless some countries point to the principle of sovereignty of states as escape goat in their endeavor not to account for violations of human rights in their territories. Sovereignty is the working mechanism of the United Nations as it guides states not to interfere with the internal affairs of the other states. This principle is anchored in Article 2 of the United Nations.

However in the current global legal arena human rights are not the internal affairs of the state only but a natural and a legal concern of the international community. It is on this basis that violators of peremptory norms of human rights for instance crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes are having the sword of the International Criminal Court dangling over their heads.
Further states do not only have an obligation towards their citizens but every person present in their territory. By extension nations are under duty to protect persons crossing the border to seek protection in their states. The international asylum law requires states not to refoul any person to a territory where they may be subjected to torture or persecution. Prof Goodwin Gill criticizing Europe for its closed door policy to asylum seekers says that human rights do not stop at the borders of Europe.

On that the foundation leadership of young democracies like Nepal do need to appreciate that the global international human rights standards have to be adhered to the latter. This requires structural mechanisms as well as dedicated leadership and above all aggressive people.
It is an established principle that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Consequently the power conferred on the executive has to be properly checked so that it is not abused to advance personal interests. That is why principles like the separation of powers has to be properly implemented so that the legislature and the judiciary can properly hold the executive accountable for inappropriate or illegal actions. Further relevant independent bodies like human rights watch dog, electoral body, anti-corruption body etc are paramount in the walk towards proper governance.

There are situations the world over proper structural mechanisms have been mutilated to fit the selfish gains of the days leadership. Therefore a leadership that is not selfless may still make counterproductive any system however proper the same might be.

However the antidote to such kind of leadership lies in the concerted and unified efforts of the ruled. The people have to realize that it is their duty to vet the leadership through the process of voting. Therefore voting is not only a right but a duty which has to be exercised with all due diligence.  Further the people can hold the executive accountable through organized channels like the media, through civil society groups, through the courts and such other means as maybe necessary.


By Ahmed Issack, UNV

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2:30 AM

Why don't even strong democratic theories; Nor do any political system works in this small nation

...; ideally, a democracy functions on the basis of the formal exercise of political and civic rights (freedom of expression, of association, etc.), the full political participation of people (i.e. every citizen should have a say in matters that affect his/her life), an accountable and transparent government and well-functioning electoral institutions, etc. In practice, however, these democratic ideals are never fully observed. Contrasting the practice of democracy with its ideal, Drèze and Sen (2002) observe that the actual practice of democratic ideals in a given society critically depends on a large array of factors. They cite the following: first, the practice of democracy depends on the extent of political participation, like election turnouts, the number of political parties, and the number of people who present themselves in elections. Among other factors that disrupt democratic institutions are inefficiency, corruption, incompetence of the bureaucracy and lack of motivation.  Further, when people are not well-informed about different political parties and their programmes or when they do not have the educational level to understand their programmes or the policy issues that concern them, their vote may not reflect their best interests. The situation gets worst in developing countries where people's choices and Vote/s are influenced by various factors & institutions that affect thier day to day lives. Chronoic poverty and low literacy rate has always provided fertile ground for Vote Bank Politics; neverthless, " Selling of Votes" has been a good practice among people for livelihood opportunities.

Nepal could be a best example to study; the country has seen the Monarchy, the Ranas (Dictators), Pancha’s (the Panchyat System), Political Leaders (Multi Party Democracy), Maoists (Revolutionaries transforming into political party) and now Mr. President, but all so far nothing have worked out. The nation is struggling hard not to be tagged as state of failure. Whilst, the next agenda is federalism (pinned up with a new culture in nepali politics ie. "Political Polarization" along with gradually/systematically being democratically-constructed particularly negative values like racism.) The question is why don't even strong democratic theories, nor do any political system  works in this small nation once which was viewed as zone of peace.

 References:
  1. http://www.idrc.ca/ (The International Development Research Center, Science for Humanity) (browsed on 25/05/2010).
  2. http://hdr.undp.org/en/humandev/  (Human Development Reports) (browsed on 26/05/2010).
  3. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/frontmatter/135934.htm (as browsed on 26/05/2010.
  4.  http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Democracy/On_Democracy_Dahl.html (excerpts from the book    On Democracy” by Robert A. Dahl, Yale University Press 1998)
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5:36 AM

August 19th, 2012 

The youth play a vital role in democratization and social transformation, regardless of origin or location. They offer fresh ideas and new perspectives on public affairs issues that their predecessors may be blindsided by. True, they lack the experience, but they have the advantage of not being jaded by life’s trials and errors. This new found vitality is what each state not only needs, but rather craves when faced by crisis or political gridlock. Involving them at a young age would help develop a sense of civic duty and also provide good practice and preparation for when its their turn to cast a vote in the political process. Who wouldn’t want a mature, politically and socially conscious pool of voters? 

Furthermore, youth involvement in public affairs would develop their critical thinking and reasoning skills; it would provide a better understanding on how politics, social issues and economics are forever intertwined and linked with the history of a certain nation.

Mind you, young minds are fairly impressionable. It is critical for one to take initiative and attempt to expose oneself to different points of views and schools of thought. The importance of education can never be stressed enough. It is the key ingredient to successful nation-building. Good education results in well-rounded individuals who are capable of developing a framework or plan of action under which a nation could rise to its feet again. 

BMA

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2:03 PM

19th August 2012-World Humanitarian Day



The United Nations’ (UN) World Humanitarian Day is held on August 19 each year. This day is dedicated to all humanitarians who have worked to promote the humanitarian cause and those of them who have lost their lives at the time of the duty. August 19  also celebrates the  spirit of people helping people regardless dangers and obstacles. 

Humanitarian work is among the most dangerous professions in the world, as humanitarians usually are assigned to go to the most  precarious places. Humanitarian workers are the first  to save lives  and provide material or logistic support in a response to severe crisis: floods, droughts or other disasters.  Today the total number of humanitarian workers worldwide is  more than 200000. They are working in  NGOs, Red Cross/Red Crescent organization or UN system.

Humanitarian work is increasingly important as natural or man-made disasters are common all over the world.  Affected people often  may not have enough resources to deal with the crisis, therefore humanitarian assistance is crucial to help them. However, governments and  international aid organizations should not forget that many  crisis, especially  those man-made,  could and should be stopped  before humanitarian aid needs  to be send.

Sources:


http://www.un.org/en/events/humanitarianday/

Author: Loreta, UNV Online Volunteer

UNV Volunteer
For: Initiative Nepal


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4:43 AM

The Edge of Democracy


Democracy, originating from the Greek "demos" , which essentially means the people..by the people, for the people. The whole initial point of elections are to voice the opinions of the public and have their interest represented by the "elected officials" who are all held responsible to their constituents. Representing all sectors of society , democracy in theory  creates a system which allows the people to change their representative if they are not satisfied  or just wanting a change in office .These selected few, MP's, senators, governor  should not be motivated by their own individual gains, wants or interest s they are rightfully of service to the public, but is this always the case? Are these few elite always working in our best interest  or are the motivated by other means, business, political peer pressure , financial incentives?

In the recent decade  with all the political drama that has occurred let's be honest with ourselves, how many times have you questioned the authenticity of the real motives.  It's an all to familiar pattern, before elections we  are force feed utopian ideals and promises which in turn strangles the voice of rationality in our heads.
Broken promise: A prime example,  UK elections before the liberal democrats had any hopes of gaining any significant political power, the campaigned to students about tuition fees and that putting them in power would protect them from any arbitrary attacks on fees. We feel for it like suckers...Voting them in. Not a year into their coalition with the Conservatives and students fees have tripled. Yes...Tripled. Little do the liberal democrats know, they have severely crippled any possible opportunity being re-elected into power from the future generation they have given the proverbial middle finger to. 

Power Hogs:  Some heads of states who swear to vow by the constitution seem to forget the underlining basics.. Free and Fair elections? Cameroon for instance, a country with a population of 20 million, gained independence in the 60's but has only ever had 2 presidents. Paul Biya, claiming to win every election free and fair year, after year after year? Do we think that is the case? Since 83 the country's economic and social status is severely undermined, so why would the electorate not like a change. Democracy they claim, democracy they shout.  Cameroon is just one of the number of country's who claim their electorate still vote for the same , lets name a few more. Zimbabwe, Russia and its single party system..Just as bad, Cuba's Castro ( We love his revolutionary style but his still a power hog).  It leads one to think of two words that come to mind...

Corruption and Bribery ...
Issues we will discuss next week...


Author: Eto Elad
UN Online Volunteer

UNV Volunteer
For: Initiative Nepal
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2:54 PM

Child labor: The plague of the developing world


Economic exploitation of children is one of the most striking global problems. The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines the term “child labor” as work that deprives children of their childhood and that is harmful to their physical and mental development. Child labor also refers to work that is dangerous and harmful for the child, interferes with education or prevents the child from school attendance. The tremendous harm of child labor is self-evident. Working children do not experience the joy of childhood, instead they have to spend long and tiring hours in dangerous environments: mines, factories, streets or agricultural fields. Most of the working children cannot attend school and that takes away their chances to have more prosperous future. Without education they will have to face poverty throughout the entire life. In general, child labor has a huge negative effect on the economic development, as it prevents children from getting enough skills to build the better future for themselves and for their country.

Elimination of child labor has been on the international agenda for years, but the real  progress  is yet to be achieved in many regions of the world. According to the ILO, there are around 215  millions child laborers worldwide. Nepal  is among  the countries where the percentage of child laborers is the highest. ILO data  shows that   2.6 million children  between the age  of 5 and 14 are working in Nepal. This number accounts for almost ¼ of children of the country. These children are employed in industries, mines, plantations, construction sites and streets.  Many of them are also told to work for household requirements instead of going to school. 

There are many causes behind child labor, but poverty is  the greatest of them all.  Incomes from child labor become an additional source of money  for poor families. When families are in difficult financial situation, they are likely to take back children from school and send them  to work.  Furthermore, children  often  become bonded laborers and work in order  to pay off the debts of their relatives.

There are also  cultural factors  explaining child labor.  For example, in traditional  cultures  there is a strong belief that  girls  do not need formal education, therefore, parents prefer them staying  at home and providing domestic services for the family.   In Nepal only 48.3% of females over 15 years can read and write, while the literacy  level among boys of the same age is 73%. Girls  often are send to work first, if family face hard times, because education of girls is less valued than education of boys. Furthermore,  sometimes children from the early age are expected to help their families and perform work similar to adults, especially if their parents followed the same path.   

The Nepalese government has enacted a number of laws aimed to combat child labor. According to  the Children’s Act 1992,  a child who has not attained the age of 14 shall not be employed in any work as a laborer. The Labor Act 1992 and Labor Rules 1993 again  prohibit  the employment of children under 14 and prohibit employment of youth below 18 years in mining industry. The Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act regulates work  hours of 14-16 years old children.   Kamaiya Labor Prohibition Act, 2001  prohibits forced employment of children to pay off the debt of their families.  The Nepalese government has also  ratified many  international conventions aimed to eliminate  child labor,  including ILO Forced Labor Convention and UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  These are all positive steps towards combating child labor in the country. However, the biggest problem is that these laws  are  often not properly enforced and fragile economic situation still  push parents to send their children to work from the early age.

What else is done to fight against child labor? There is also a network of non-governmental organizations and international agencies such as UNICEF working for the elimination of child labor in Nepal.   For example, one of the best known initiatives  is Rugmark Nepal. This organization  inspects  factories in Kathmandu to ensure that they do not employ children and issues certificates  that no child was exploited during production.
However, for a real change, there needs to be a societal mobilization. Laws are not enough to put the end on the exploitation of children.  Combined efforts of  civil society,  international community and government are  needed to solve the problem of child labor. Furthermore, there should be a common understanding in the society  that  child labor   has  a long-term negative effects not only on lives of children, but also on the development of the country. 

Sources:

Santosh Vargese, “Child Labor in Nepal: Education Combating Unjust Labor”, Youth Advocate Program International Resource Paper, www.yapi.org/rpchildlabornepal.pdf 

Sam Taylor and Sarah Crowe, “One World Day against Child Labor”,

Child labor and responses in South Asia,

Child labor,

CIA World Fact book, Nepal

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7:01 PM

How about MDGs?


After a decade of “talking the talk” without really “walking the walk”, world leaders gathered in the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2000 to adopt what is known as the “United Nations Millennium Declaration” that commits their respective countries to a number of goals with a deadline in the end of 2015 to achieve those targets. These targets have become to be known as the “Millennium Declaration” which included the “MillenniumGoals” - MDGs. Summed-up in eight points, these goals embody some of the main challenges to development: 

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, 
  2. Achieve universal primary education, 
  3. Promote gender equality and empowering women 
  4. Reduce child mortality rates,
  5. Improve maternal health,
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases,
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability, and 
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

The adoption of the “Millennium Declaration” in 2000 was followed by a “UN Millennium Project” in 2002. Commissioned by the UN-Secretary General, it aimed to develop a plan of action for world countries to achieve the MDGs by 2015.  This plan as concluded and delivered to the Secretary-General in 2005. 

A decade, 189 nations, and signatures of 147 heads of state later and still no clear indication on how achievable or even realistic those goals are. No doubt MDGs are a noble initiative, aimed to foster global citizenship, empathy, tolerance and improve the world we live in. On a more practical note, these MDGs do provide useful inputs and guidelines and policies. A look at the “Nepal Millennium Development Goals Progress Report 2012” would clarify the relevance of those MDGs not only to 2015, but beyond that as well, providing a long-term vision in critical areas like health, education and environment. 


Sources: 
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5:07 AM

Nepal's Ban...


"Nepal has banned women under 30 from travelling to Gulf countries to work following reports of widespread sexual abuse and exploitation."


Fact: Nepal is among the poorest and least-developed countries in the world. Almost one-quarter of its population live below the poverty line. As a result of this prevalent poverty, thousands of women - mostly aged under 25 - leave the country every year to take up menial jobs in cleaning or construction, with many heading to Gulf Arab states.

Following widespread reports that these young female workers are being sexually and psychologically exploited in their destination Gulf countries, the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has placed an age ban on women migrant workers. The government's argument is that women above 30 years of age are at a lower risk of being subjected to these sexual and psychological exploitation.

But the important question is: will this age ban be a long- or short-term solution? Besides, statistics have shown that sexual and psychological exploitation are as rampant among age group 30-40 as it is among age group 25 and below.

Bidemi Ologunde 
United Nations Volunteer

For: Initiative Nepal
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5:56 PM


Democracy” is one of those words widely used - and misused- in political jargon. carelessly thrown here and there in speeches and constantly mistaken for “popular support” or “rule of majority”. Politicians use it, party leaders use it, dictators and one-party regimes use it, but very few understand the concept itself; even fewer know of the torturous history that shaped that concept. 
The simplest definition of democracy is as follows: a form or system of government where the people participate directly, or indirectly, in public decision making. It is governance by all eligible members of society through direct participation or through elected representatives.
Essentially, there are two forms of democracy: direct democracy and representative democracy. Direct democracy is when democracy is exercised through citizens’ direct involvement, most notable in unitary democracies and on the local level , for example town hall meetings and city councils. While representative democracy is when eligible citizens nominate and elect a delegate to represent them on the national level, as in federal democracies. For example, in the US each of the 50 states elects one official to represent it in the Senate. Similarly, the Constituent Assembly’s vision of a new Nepal was based on the same model of federalism.
As Nepal makes the transition from a constitutional monarchy to a federal democracy, it is crucial that Nepalese citizens are fully aware not only of the electoral process, but also of the benefits and responsibilities of democracy. 
Democracies thrive in openness - tolerance, freedom of belief and thought, equality before the law and due process and freedom of assembly. These are all essential components of a successful democratic state. Granted, not all of these aspects are available at every self proclaimed democratic state, but they are key components to an ideal democracy. Nepal’s pluralism, in theory, should permit peaceful coexistence, dialogue, a dialectic of conflict and conflict resolution that would lead to a consensus of what the “common good”. Negotiation of different interests, accepting different beliefs and permitting different lifestyles may be the stepping stone to Nepal’s nation/ state building process. Diversity and conflict of interests form the basis of political equilibrium and power and political influence will be distributed based on the results of that bargaining. In effect, making the democratic process and transfer of power a very fluid and dynamic process. 
BMA
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2:11 PM

The Importance of Democratic Education


An educated population has long been considered as a key precondition for a stable democratic system.  But what are the goals of education?  Which is the best education model? I would like to talk about the importance of democratic education at universities. I  strongly believe that universities prepare the   intellectual elites, the most talented youth, those, who one day  will hold the future of their  country in the hands.  In my view, universities should not only teach   facts and figures, but should  also  prepare  every student  to be an active citizen able to  participate fully in a country’s democratic and political life. 

I think  that  universities  should incorporate more  democratic values into the teaching  process. Continuous discussions,  vigorous  participation in  various  activities and collaborative work should be the basis of the learning process. There are still  many universities where  old fashioned autocratic  education   models prevails. University  teachers simply dictate the text and students write it down without thinking. When exams come, students  have to   learn massive amounts of information   by heart like a poem. In my view, this education  model  has numerous drawbacks.   Firstly, it does not teach students to think critically by  questioning  what a  teacher says.  However, critical thinking is crucial for a citizen who wants to   participate actively  in a daily political life and  judge the actions of politicians. It is also  wrong to consider a teacher   as a master of the class, the only one who knows the „truth“.  In many disciplines, especially in social sciences, the „truth“ can only be find in a discussion. At university students should firstly learn how to present their arguments, respect different opinions and show the initiative, because these are the rules of life in a democratic society.

Universities should prepare students who could  understand  not only the narrow scope of their specialization, but also would be able to analyse the daily political and  economic realities. Even those young people who study engineering or maths should have a few  obligatory courses on sustainable development, economics and politics, so that they  could know what to say on the issues that affect their country and the world.  


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11:58 AM

The Youth's Making a Difference...

“Youths are not only the leaders of tomorrow; they are the key actors of today.” – ActionAid

Last July 25, 2012, three buses carrying 150 students belonging to a Delhi Public School (DPS) branch were attacked in Katmandu. The culprits were student activists affiliated to the Mohan Vaiya-led radical breakaway faction of the Maoists. They set a DPS bus on fire and vandalised another in eastern Nepal as part of protests against high fees and foreign investment in schools. The attack has raised concerns from the UN on the increasing number of incidents of attacks on school buses that risk the lives and welfare of students.

But amidst all these acts of violence on the youth, NGOs like ActionAid's international youth training centre called the Global Platform in Katmandu have trained youths from all over the world in social activism through its own Activista Network and others involved in social activism. The aim of the Global Platform is “to establish a place that can be an important driver in changing the world into a more just and equal place for the whole humankind.” The training hopes to “deepen and widen social justice action by giving young activists from Nepal, Asia and the rest of the world, opportunities to develop their skills in planning actions for social change." according to Bimal Phnuyal, Country Director of ActionAid Nepal.
With their training, the youth learn to become global campaigners and change agents, be active global volunteers and develop volunteerism as a tool to promote social change in their local communities. They also develop the necessary leadership skills to lead members in their volunteering or social change activities. They learn to campaign and work on their advocacies to push for the enactment of laws or improve systems to help strengthen identified flaws in their communities. They are empowered through training to handle challenges so they can be social agents that would strengthen not only their capabilities in helping bring about change in society but also in instituting changes through civil society networks and coalitions outside their country.
Despite the attacks on schools by radical groups in Nepal, it is an undeniable fact that the youth are indeed not only the leaders of tomorrow but they are also the key actors of today that can bring about social change. The youth can make the difference...

Sources:

1)      ActionAid opens international youth training centre in Kathmandu - http://www.actionaid.org/stories/actionaid-opens-international-youth-training-centre-kathmandu

2)      UN concerned over attacks against schools in Nepal - http://zeenews.india.com/news/south-asia/un-concerned-over-attacks-against-schools-in-nepal_789666.html

Contributed by:

Lylin Aguas
UNO Volunteer for Development Dialogue
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12:17 AM

Education since The Hard Times to Now


Education/knowledge is the major power from the perspective of Human Dimension of Development; regardless “literacy rate statistics” will be none of use, unless and until we find out what quality education is and how it should be delivered.

Education is the center part of the “HARD TIMES”. Charles Dickens has directly and indirectly shown all the root causes of social problem in mechanization of education. From the perspective of Human Dimension of Development we find that knowledge is the power/energy of human development. But means and ends must be clear. In the Novel “Hard Times”, Dickens has shown that the industrialized society is unaware of ends of development and thus have misutilized the power of education.

 

“The Gradgrind school opposes fancy, imaginative literature and “wondering.” Instead, they encourage the pursuit of “hard fact” and statistics through scientific investigation and logical deduction. But the Gradgrinds are so merciless and thorough in their education that they manage to kill the souls of their pupils. Sissy Jupe and the members of Sleary’s circus company stand as a contrast, arguing that “the people must be amused.” Life cannot be exclusively devoted to labor.”

Dickens suggests that what constitutes so-called fact is a matter of perspective or opinion. Dickens have opposed on making children as database of facts and figures. Somewhere he has indirectly raised concern about quality of education, what education is meant for?  “Should output of Schools should act as production input of factories?? For what schools are constructed for and who are supposed to govern or influence them?

What I conclude is, today’s so called “education” and the “education system” is responsible for the root causes of social problems. Weather it is widening of gab between richer and poor,

 North – South, industrialization, environmental pollution, poverty and or social conflicts. Unless and until we learn to create a balance form of society, unless and until we are clear on ‘ends and means’ of development and the best procedures to metalize them, unless and until we learn to distinguish between subjective and non-subjective, materialistic and non-materialistic parts of society and human being, ‘HARD TIMES’ will ever flourish in 21st century of the modernized and globalized world.

“Mr. Gradgrind believes that human nature can be measured, quantified, and governed entirely by rational rules. Indeed, his school attempts to turn children into little machines that behave according to such rules.”

Similarly, the major problem with Human Development Index (HDI) is that it tries to measure everything as like Mr. Gradgrinds. Whereas, I believe that “freedom” and “Joy”, the ultimate common goal of human being cannot be measured. Regardless, if the measurement indexes are developed, human being should be ready to bear the consequences of it as people during industrial revaluation of 1850s faced the consequences of ‘mechanization of human being’.

Finally, ‘Caring’ should not be sold in market, it is not commodity neither it should have curves of supply and demand. It’s crazy to put economic value on caring. Caring is priceless and thus it should be moved into family model. Through the various female characters in the novel, Dickens suggests that feminine compassion is necessary to restore social harmony. Hence-forth, if we mistaken to trade ‘Caring’  in the market for long time, it would give birth to  gender violence and crime, putting women more prone to vulnerability for example as the Nepalese women’s in gulf countries are facing physical and mental suffering in consequences of providing ‘caring services’.

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