Digits Make People Blind:
The world economy is a scary term for many people. The notion is attached to it in the same way as hope is linked to the budget. Psychologists are interested in understanding the socio-cultural and economic causes behind such perception. However, economics has its way of deceiving the masses with crunching numbers. As the digits of any figure increase, an ordinary person finds it quite challenging to interpret.
Why Digits Make People Blind?
Social scientists will certainly link this phenomenon to the literacy level of the masses. However, economists understand that it has not much. Although the relationship is right to do with literacy, it is indeed the magic of mathematics. I still remember a graduate professor who had a PhD in Political Science from the USA.
The professor commented on the authoritative source of my claim related to Pakistan’s GDP in dollars. The innocent professor said, ‘Approximately 250 billion dollars is too much. Our GDP will be hardly around 10 to 15 billion dollars.’ He might have rechecked and agreed to my claim or might not have.
Why Is There A Lack of Understanding When it Comes To the Economy?
The ordinary citizens – including educated individuals – are the real victims of such deception. Such individuals have bleak hope for the budget to increase, which would increase pensions and salaries. They only want to figure out how the percentage increase could elaborate growth in their monetary funds.
The majority of social science students in the universities of Pakistan have no idea regarding the economy. A favourite debate of the GDP spending on health, defence and education can be expected by an educated person. Nevertheless, no one has any idea what those portions of the budget reflect.
Unavailability of Accurate Data is The Biggest Hurdle:
The official statistics provided by the government are documented in the Economic Survey of Pakistan. It is an official document of the Ministry of Finance that is released annually. As per this paper, our public expenditure on Education for 2015-16 was around 2.2% of the GDP. However,
it is almost certain that the government has no idea regarding the actual nominal amount of it.
Let us set aside the questions relating to interpreting what such figures mean and how that number accomplished the established goals. It will be pretty shocking to realize that 2.2% of the GDP is government spending on education. It is not the actual national figure of the education sector within the economy of Pakistan.
Furthermore, it signifies that 2.2% digit does not include spending on private educational institutions. The accurate data is not available because the last census was conducted way back in the 1990s. The higher education growth in Pakistan is the phenomenon of the 2000s. Hence, there is no figure to provide an estimate of the current volume of private education.
Digits Are Not the Only Way of Observing Economy:
Infrastructure is an important aspect that helps economic growth. It is essential for development as well. An example of Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus services is noteworthy here. The budget for this infrastructure is 50 billion rupees, and 2.2% of 270 billion dollars means a little less than 6 billion dollars. It is the government’s expenditure on education.
Now compare the cost of an infrastructure project that is 6000 million dollars, with an aggregate school budget, which is 5000 million dollars. In simple words, it can help educated masses understand the real priorities of the government. If the government decides to initiate 12 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects, it will be equal to all government spending on education.
So how can Digits not Make People Blind? Informed debates are always encouraged in civilized societies. Such discussions are based on information that results in intellectual growth. It helps build effective policymaking. The issues are with these insights. One should not just blame educated people for not understanding figures in digits.
It is essential to convince relevant people (policymakers, economists, journalists, professors and development practitioners) to give due importance to the interpretation of digits. As symbols, mathematical digits become indicators of the contemporary living standard and the nation’s future fate.
Human beings’ cognitive capabilities are not entirely compatible with the structure formation of the geometrical figures, theorem, and other derivations. Hence, the government needs to bring clarity to its policies. The system should be more responsible in a manner that digits are not used to misguide the public.
Written by Abdul Sattar
Edited and Managed by Javeria Qadeer