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India's progress on human development below average

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UNDP's HDR ranks nation sixth in terms of HDI improvement.

Real wealth:The UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Patrice Coeur-Bizot (second from left), with (from left) the Planning Commission Member, Ms Sayeda Hameed, the Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Mr Kaushik Basu, and the UNDP Country Director, Ms Caitlin Wiesen, releasing the Human Development Report-2010 – “The real wealth of nations: Pathway to human development:, in New Delhi on Thursday.
Real wealth:The UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Patrice Coeur-Bizot (second from left), with (from left) the Planning Commission Member, Ms Sayeda Hameed, the Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Mr Kaushik Basu, and the UNDP Country Director, Ms Caitlin Wiesen, releasing the Human Development Report-2010 – “The real wealth of nations: Pathway to human development:, in New Delhi on Thursday.

G. Srinivasan

New Delhi, Nov. 4

India's growth story may be a showcase of economic success but its progress on the human development front is below the average for the medium human development category.

The UN Development Organisation said in its Human Development Report-2010 — released here on Thursday — that India's human development index (HDI) of 0.519 is only above the average of 0.516 in South Asian countries and this pushed India to the 119th slot out of 169 countries and areas surveyed.

However, over the long haul, between 1980 and 2010, India's HDI increased from 0.320 to 0.519, an increase of 62 per cent or an average annual increase of about 1.6 per cent.

“With such an increase India is ranked sixth in terms of HDI improvement based on deviation from fit, which measures progress in comparison to the average progress of countries with a similar initial HDI level,” the report said.

The human development index is a composite national measure of health, education and income.

Between 1980 and 2010, India's life expectancy at birth increased by almost nine years, mean years of schooling increased by close to three years and expected years of schooling increased by four years. Yet, India's gross national income per capita increased by 254 per cent.

More factors

This year, the report has deployed three additional indices — the inequality-adjusted HDI, the gender inequality index (GII) and the multi-dimensional poverty index (MPI). However, India's HDI for 2010, which is 0.519, falls to 0.365 when the value is discounted for inequality, a loss of 30 per cent due to inequality. Bangladesh and Pakistan show losses due to inequality at 29 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.

On the new GII, it said in India, 9 per cent of Parliamentary seats are held by women and 27 per cent of adult women have secondary or higher education than 50 per cent of their male counterparts.

For every one lakh live births, 450 women die of pregnancy-related causes and the adolescent fertility rate is 68 births/1,000 live births. Female participation in the labour market is 36 per cent compared to 85 per cent for men. The result is a GII value for India of 0.748 ranking it 122 out of 138 countries based on 2008 data.

The MPI — which identifies multiple deprivations in the same households in education, health and standard of living — shows that in India 55 per cent of the population suffer multiple deprivations while an additional 16 per cent are vulnerable to multiple deprivations.

The breadth of deprivation (intensity) in India, which is the average percentage deprivation experienced by people in multidimensional poverty, is 54 per cent.

The MPI, which is the share of the population that is multi-dimensionally poor, adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.296.

Bangladesh and Pakistan have MPIs of 0.291 and 0.275 respectively. Stating that poverty has been frequently discussed in terms of income poverty, the report said this only tells part of the story. The multidimensional poverty headcount in India is 14 percentage points higher than income poverty, implying that individuals living above the income poverty line may still suffer deprivation in education, health and other living conditions.

Poverty

Taking a cue from this skewed pattern of development by India and other developing countries, the UNDP Administrator, Ms Helen Clerk, in a foreword to the report convincingly argued that “there is much that countries could do to improve the quality of people's lives even under adverse circumstances.”

Pertinently, she pointed out, “Many countries have made great gains in health and education, despite only modest growth in income, while some countries with strong economic performance over the decades have failed to make similarly impressive progress in life expectancy, schooling and overall living standards.”

The “top 10 movers” highlighted in the report — countries among the 135 that improved most in HDI over the past four decades — were Oman, China, Nepal, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Tunisia, South Korea, Algeria and Morocco.

geeyes@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 5, 2010)
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