India ranked 119 in human development
‘Multidimensional’ poverty, gender gap and rising inequality remain biggest challenges
BY Harsimran Shergill
India has been ranked 119 on the Human Development Index (HDI) for this year but is above the average of other south Asian countries.The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report (HDR) was released in India recently. Speaking on India’s ranking, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator Patrice Coeur-Bizot said, “There has been steady progress on the HDI over the past 20 years and India’s HDI is above the average for countries in South Asia.” However, he added that while economic growth has been impressive, inequality was on the rise.
Significant progress in human development was reported for six of the nine South Asian countries (according to the United Nations) which include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Iran and Pakistan.
Jeni Klugman, the lead author of the report, in her observations said, “One important finding from several decades of human development experience is that for lasting improvements on the quality of life of citizens, economic growth must be accompanied by spending on health and education.”
According to Klugman, Nepal emerged as one of the world’s fastest movers (since 1970) in terms of life expectancy and access to education, and was third out of the 135 countries that were studied. Giving a couple of example, she said that a child born today in Nepal can expect to live 25 years longer than a child born in 1970, and more than four out of every five children of school-going age in Nepal now attend primary school, compared with just one in five 40 years ago.
“Nepal’s impressive progress in health and education can be traced to both public policy efforts and substantial remittance inflows from emigrant workers over many years,” added Klugman.
Welcoming the report, Kaushik Basu, chief economic advisor in the Ministry of Finance, said, “The report is part laudatory and part critical. I am glad that India has done well in terms of economic growth but it is doing poorly in terms of human development in comparison to other middle human development countries.”
Member, Planning Commission, Sayeeda Hameed added: “India has moved one notch higher in the Human Development Index. I feel we have a long way to go. Far too many people are being left out in India’s growth story.”
The report also highlights the progress made by Southeast Asian countries including China, Indonesia, Laos and South Korea, all of which have made it to the top 10 movers list.
East Asia and the Pacific had the strongest performance in the world. China, the second highest achiever in the world in HDI improvement, saw per capita income increase 21 times over the last four decades. Yet, the country is not among the regions’ top performers in improving school enrolment and life expectancy.
In India, life expectancy has increased by 16 years over the past 40 years. One big factor in this change is the gradual improvement in South Asia’s infant and child mortality rates, which now stand at 56 and 73 per 1,000 live births, respectively. This is still much higher than the global averages of 44 and 63 per 1,000 live births.
The 2010 HDR also introduces three new indices that measure the impact of inequality, gender disparities and “multidimensional” poverty.
The Multidimensional Poverty Index identifies serious simultaneous deprivations in health, education and income on the household level. Eight Indian states alone are home to 421 million multidimensionally poor people – much more than the 410 million multidimensional poor people living in the whole of Africa.