West Bengal HDR Bags Global UNDP Award

14 Oct 2004

New Delhi, 14 October 2004 - The West Bengal State Human Development Report 2004 has been awarded the coveted National Human Development Report (NHDR) award for " Excellence in Quality of Analysis". The Report is one of the seven winners of the 2004 global United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Awards for Human Development. The winners will be honoured at a ceremony hosted by the UNDP Administrator, Mark Malloch Brown on 15 December in New York City.

The Report, which is the first State HDR to receive such an award, was released by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mr. Buddhadev Bhattacharjee on 19 May 2004. The Report focuses on two defining initiatives of the State Government that undeniably have had an impact on human development in the State land reforms and decentralisation.Authored by the noted development economist, Ms. Jayati Ghosh, the West Bengal HDR is remarkably candid in highlighting the important successes on key human development parameters as also some areas where the progress has been less than expected. It applauds the land reforms undertaken by the State Government, the efforts of the State Government towards greater decentralisation, the relatively rapid economic growth experienced in the last two decades and the status of human security in the State.

Commenting on the award, the State Minister for Development and Planning, Mr. Nirupam Sen said the Report contains information of all the districts and brings out comparative status of districts on human development aspects. "We have seen that some districts are doing well in certain areas while others are yet to pick up. Our next agenda is to prepare district level reports to reflect information at the Block level", Mr. Sen observed.The Report attempts a frank analyses of gender discrimination in society and disparities across social groups and geographical regions. It highlights the lack of adequate productive employment opportunities as probably the most pressing socio-economic problem in the State.The other National Human Development Report Award winners for 2004 include Argentina for excellence in policy impact, Colombia for excellence in participatory and inclusive process, Latvia for excellence in human development innovations, Zambia for excellence in support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Bosnia and Herzegovina special recognition for support of the MDGs and the Arab Region Report for special recognition for continuing excellence.

UNDP established the Awards for Human Development to recognize the global efforts of national, regional and local communities to address their own development challenges. The awards also include the Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development, presented to a world leader who has contributed to furthering the human development concept. The 2004 leadership award-winner is Mr. Fazle Hazan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), one of the worlds most successful non-governmental organizations. The Mahbub ul Haq Award is named after the Pakistani economist who pioneered the human development approach and founded the global Human Development Report. UNDP will present the Mahbub ul Haq Award every other year to a Head of State or world leader who has successfully put human development at the heart of the political agenda. In 2002 the award was presented to President (1995-2002) Henrique Cardoso of Brazil.

Sixty-seven Reports from forty different countries and/or regions vied for this award. Selecting the West Bengal Human Development Report 2004 for the award, the eminent panel of judges noted that the Report highlighted the pertinent linkages between institutional change and economic growth.The winners were selected by a Final Judging Panel which comprised of Her Royal Highness Princess Basma of Jordan; Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Executive ChairmanAfrican Development Policy Ownership Initiative and former Finance Minister of Ghana; Moíses Naím, Editor of Foreign Policy and former Minister of Economy of Venezuela; and Dr. Mahnaz Afkhami of the Women's Learning Partnership, former Minister of State for Women's Affairs in Iran. The awards programme was made possible through a grant from the UN Foundation.