The concept of GNH as i dealt in my previous article is a simple, top-down micro level approach to measure the economy of a state. The concept based on four pillars touches the core of the heart of every human being when it talks of happiness. On the other hand, if we look at its flip side, we will come to know that too much simplicity makes it a wild concept to be implemented and too realistic to be realized. Here it is where Justice Martha Nussbaum of Liberal Theory of Justice and the Nobel Laureate, Mr.Amartya Sen advocates a micro level, bottom-up approach to the concept and coins the term as Capability Approach.
Sen, after ample research work and surveys on several sensitive issues like famine, drought, flood etc. concludes that it is the inequality prevalent at all levels in the society which leads to unhappiness and is the root of all evils considering the fact that only a particular section of the society suffers from its consequences every time and not all. He also professes that the need of the hour is to change the mindset of the people and the society rather than increasing the funds in the consecutive union budgets by sitting the example of teaching illiterate girls. Contrary to Utilitarian and Libertarian theories where the stress is on utility rather satisfaction, CA talks about providing sleep rather than bed and comfort rather than so called facilities.
He says that the government should measure its economy neither with what its subject has at the end of a financial year nor with what significant achievements did it register in the year passed by but the real parameter should be to analyse that how much does it have to its credit as compared to how much it was capable of as compared to how much could it achieve. A microscopic analysis of the aforesaid point can leave one dumbstruck.
Sen claims that the individual opportunities as capacities and at the same time lays stress on enhancement of these capacities ranging from fundamental ones to complex ones. He clubs these opportunities together as Capability Set. This Capability set is formed through the process in which available resources and income are converted through the functions of utilisation namely: Personal, Social and Environmental Factors into political human functioning such as social, economic and political freedoms. Personal Factors include metabolism, physic, sex, intelligentsia etc and Social conversion Factors include social norms, gender and caste issues and several discriminating practices. Environmental Factors talk about demographic factors and climate etc. Sen professes the conversion of the characteristics of all the factors as discussed above under different headings into functioning from the atomic to the molecular level.
He draws attention towards increasing opportunities at every level and says that a piece of land, whose output doesn’t surpass the input or is not sufficiently large enough to earn a livelihood to the concerned, shouldn’t be considered to be productive. Here it is where he says that the need is to increase the capability of the asset whether an individual or a commodity or the society as a whole. The concept says that it is not the resources but it is the capability of the resources which actually matters.
Referring to inequality as the root cause of the unhappiness, Sen identifies five most important factors leading to diversity: Personal Heterogeneity, Environmental diversities, variations in social climate, differences in relational perspectives and Distribution within the family. I would prefer not to go for a detailed description and switch over to Liberal Theory of Justice by Martha Nussbaum having ample relevance to the context. The theory says that. “Which changes or transitions are compatible with the continued existence of a being as a member of the human kind and which are not?” It also talks about what kind of activity must be there if we are going to acknowledge a given life is human.
The journey so far had been very exciting. Isn’t it?? GNH concept supplemented by CA is broad enough to cover all the dimensions and ultimately leading to the dream of what one calls “Happiness”. The concept of these new parameters, by now would be clear to the readers. Yet questions like, “what is the relevance of this alien concept to the economy as big as that of ours?? Is it realistic or not??, implementation issues and of-course What exactly Happiness is??” ,still remains unanswered. I shall deal with them in my next article and conclude this superb concept.