Thursday, November 04, 2010

成功建國: 瞎子摸象 / Successful Nation Building: Is that an Elephant?

Here are my comments in response to Space's Nov 3, 2010 blog article entitled "人民素質展示"


Haricot to Space:

Thank you for the excellent, excellent article on "人民素質展示", as well as the great references on GDP, HDI, GNH, HPI, etc. The richness/divergence of information in your blog is one of the reasons why I keep coming back !!!

Your article raises the difficult issue of defining and measuring success in nation building. As you have pointed out, China has advanced tremendously in its "hardware硬件" department but seems to lack behind other developed countries when it comes to "software軟件" (which you call 普偏人民素質).

While I agree with you that GNP and GDP measure only a country's economic results and should not be the only indicators of success, I am hesitant to drop them and embrace HDI, GNH, HPI, etc as my new favourites. Just like GNP and GDP, these indices are only indicators of success, but not success itself.

In a way, the challenge is like the 瞎子摸象 story, it's the combination of the different descriptive indicators that will provide a more complete picture of what we are imagining is the "real" thing, and even then, we might not all agree on what the "real" thing (in this case: success in nation building) would/should look like. For example: Ever since the release of the 2006 UN Gross National Happiness GNH report 「全球快樂排行榜」which ranked不丹 #1 among Asian countries and 8th in the world, there has not been a big line-up of ppl trying to immigrate into that country (not counting the 100,000 Lhotshampas that had been expelled by the govt). The same with the Happy Planet Index: The tourist industry of Jamaica is hurting because of the reported high crime rate, and yet its HPI was ranked 3rd by the New Economics Foundation in 2009. Even with the widely used HDI Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living, some critics are saying that the indicator does not take into account a human being's spiritual and moral development.


1. Defining and measuring success in nation building is a complex, multi-faceted task that will require a combination of different indicators, none of which by itself will tell the "real" story.

2. The "real" story is real only if everyone agrees to the methodologies of defining and measuring success. Otherwise, nobody can say for sure, whether there is or is not an elephant in the meeting room.


Just a thought:

I should find time to do some research and write an article to further explore an approach to define and measure the success/failure of nation building.

* A related article I started on Oct 29, 2008: 建國 - 行政重點和基礎設施 (其一) / Nation Building - Priorities and Infrastructure (Part 1) (I will write Part 2, some day !!)
* Space: 人民素質展示

Photo credit:
* I took a photo of this poster in the Dolphin Coast B&B place on Dec 5, 2009 during the trip through South Africa


新鮮人 said...


The Inner Space said...


微豆兄:excellent X 2 愧不敢當!


Humbly Yours

Haricot 微豆 said...


I look forward to hearing your opinions !!!

Haricot 微豆 said...


>> .... 一路搜尋資料

That is called evidence-based analyses which I appreciate very much !!!

Come to think of it, I should write Part 2 of the series that I started on Oct 29, 2008:

建國 - 行政重點和基礎設施 (其一) / Nation Building - Priorities and Infrastructure (Part 1)

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