India still scores low in human development in UNDP report

It is ranked at 136 along with Equatorial Guinea while Sri Lanka strides ahead

By Jyotsna Singh
Published: Tuesday 16 April 2013

Over the past three decades, India has made good progress on the human development index (HDI), says the Human Development Report 2013, released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). However, India’s rank out of 187 countries is no better than last year’s.

With a HDI value of 0.554 and a rank of 136 among 187 countries, which it shares with Equatorial Guinea, India is placed in the “medium development” category. There has been steady improvement in its HDI value, which was 0.345 in 1980.

In 1950, Brazil, China and India together represented 10 per cent of the world economy, while the six traditional economic leaders of the North accounted for more than half. According to projections in the report, by 2050, Brazil, China and India will together account for 40 per cent of global output, far surpassing the projected combined production of todayÔÇÖs Group of Seven bloc.
HDI is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income indices used to rank countries in four tiers of human development. Since 2011, the UNDP report has included an inequality adjusted HDI, also known as IHDI, which attempts to include the effects of inequality on human development. The IHDI for India this year is 0.392.

High gender inequality

The country fails miserably on the front of gender equality. On the gender equality index, with a value of 0.610, India has one of the worst indicators in the medium human development category. For example, the country has only 10.9 per cent of seats in Parliament occupied by women. Countries like South Africa (41.1 per cent, HDI – 121), Timor-Leste (38.5 per cent, 134), Iraq (25.2 per cent, 131) and China (21.3 per cent, 101) are much ahead of India when it comes to the representation of women in decision making.

IndiaÔÇÖs HDI progress report
Year      HDI value

1980     0.345
1990     0.410
2000     0.463
2010     0.547
2012     0.554
India’s southern neighbour, Sri Lanka, with a rank of 92, has been included in the category of nations with high human development for the first time.

Rise of the South

The UNDP report, titled “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”, focuses on the emergence of the global South in the past few years as an important development. It notes that while the developed economies stopped growing during the financial crisis of 2008-09, developing economies kept on growing. “The South is now emerging alongside the North as a breeding ground for technical innovation and creative entrepreneurship,” notes the report. A paradigm shift has come about due to robust and increasing South-South trade.  Because of this growth, companies in the South are adapting and innovating products and processes better suited to local needs.

The “rise of the South” is seen as a significant development because majority of the world's population resides in these countries. The report mentions India while stating that some of the largest countries have made rapid advances in HDI. It further mentions that “for the first time in 150 years, the combined output of the developing world’s three leading economies—Brazil, China and India—is about equal to the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the longstanding industrial powers of the North—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States.” The report recognises this as an indication of re-balancing of global economic power.

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