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Indicators of Development
Measures and Indicators of Development
When the Society presented a copy of its report to the Planning Commission and to Mrs. Indira Gandhi in November 1980, the Prime Minister expressed particular interest in the proposal to evolve new measures and indicators of development that would more accurately reflect the real progress of the country than traditional economic indicators like GNP. Later the same day Mrs. Gandhi addressed a national conference of scientists on the need for new statistical measures of development.
As a result of this interest, the Society initiated a research project on this topic and evolved a new measuring instrument, the Quantitative Scale of Physical Development, QSPD. The scale measures changes in standard of living over ten categories including nutrition, clothing, housing, health, education, transport and communication, community facilities, etc. A preliminary paper describing the QSPD was submitted to the Union Planning Commission and the Prime Minister's Secretariat.
In 1981, a field study was undertaken in Thadagam Village, Gingee Taluk, applying the QSPD to measure the development of the village, utilizing baseline data from a survey of the village by the Central Census Organization in 1961 for comparison. The study revealed a overall 47 percent improvement in development of this village in twenty years on a scale of more than 100 development parameters. Subsequently the Society tested the scale in two more villages and an Annamalai University research team employed it for a comparison of ten other villages.
After study of the Society's model, the Prime Minister's Secretariat requested the Society to prepare a comprehensive plan for the introduction of new development indicators on a nationwide basis and a report outlining six graded proposals with cost estimates was submitted in December 1981. As a result, the Union Planning Commission organised a national conference on Regional Planning and Development Indicators at Nainital in April 1982, and the Society was invited to present its model at the conference.
In 1991, ten years after the original study, the Society returned to Thadagam and resurveyed the village to measure the further progress during the period 1981-91 and as an indication of the general success of village development programs in the district. The study included household surveys of 100 families and detailed nutritional surveys of 50 families. Results were analysed statistically and compared with earlier results on the index. Marked improvements were noted in some key dimensions of development including food, clothing, education, recreation and physical assets.