The Four Capital Stocks Of The Humanity.

Joseph E. Stiglitz (Image Source:

Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning American economist, in his recently published book, “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future” observed that any nation, if it wants its development to sustain in the long run, must achieve a harmonious development of all its four capital stocks namely, man-made capital, natural capital, human capital and social capital. Man-made capital in the sense that the capital we all are obsessed with – the production of all the material goods.

Our GDP is measured in terms of the value of all the goods and services produced in a financial year. An increase in the growth rate of the GDP, especially a double-digit growth rate, is considered to be a feather in any government’s cap. Economists, most of the time, speak about the measures that could be taken and the policies that could be formulated to push up the GDP growth figures. The entire world is obsessed with more investment, more production, more earnings and more consumption. In our blind pursuit of material things, we are not in a mood to spare a thought for the unsustainability of our pursuits.

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We, the people, in our obsession with man-made capital, are overlooking or completely ignoring the other three capitals, i.e. natural capital, human capital and social capital. Our natural capital is in dire straits. Our natural resources like water, air, soil and forests are either getting depleted at an alarmingly rapid pace or getting polluted.

Our human capital, which encompasses health and education, is completely commercialized. Qualitative health and educational services are inaccessible to the poor and middle-class people, and they are putting up with the mediocre services offered by the government-run hospitals and schools. There is no effort that is being made to improve the quality of the services and bring accountability within the government servants. The unaffordability of quality health care and educational services is making a dent in the quality of the human resources. As far as social capital is concerned, the mutual distrust among different social groups, especially religious groups, has vitiated the social fabric of the world and acquired the status of a ticking time bomb. The apocalyptic Islamic terror is threatening the very existence of humankind.

Now is the time for the humanity to stop and take notice of the impending dangers and take corrective measures on a war-footing, to ensure that this world  will remain conducive even for the future generations to live in a peaceful and harmonious manner.

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