Global HDI: India scores on life expectancy and living standards, but still slips a rank

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 16, 2020

Improves 8 ranks when trial elements like carbon footprint are considered

India’s slipped one rank to 131 among 189 countries in the Human Development Index for 2019 compared to 130 the previous year, according to United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report 2020 released on Wednesday.

However, the absolute value of the index has gone up for India to 0.645 in 2019 (the year under consideration) compared to 0.642 the year before, reflecting overall better performance.

“India’s actual numbers have improved. Ranking is relative. It just means that other countries have done better than you,” explained UNDP India resident representative, Shoko Noda, at a media interaction.


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In all four HDI indicators, India’s performance has either improved in 2019 compared to 2018 or remained the same. Life expectancy at birth has improved to 69.7 years compared to 69.4 years the year before. GNI per capita at $6,681 in 2019 was higher than $6,427 in 2018. Expected years of schooling and mean year of schooling in 2019 remained the same as the previous year at 12.2 and 6.5 respectively.

New elements

The good news for India is that when the HDI is adjusted to include two more elements experimentally introduced by the UNDP to account for planetary pressure (Planetary Pressure Adjusted HDI), its ranking improves by eight positions. The two new elements are a country's material consumption and its carbon footprint and India’s performance is much better in these compared to most countries higher up on the HDI, Noda said.

“We have to put people and the planet at the centre. If India makes it right, the world can follow and make it right,” said Noda.

There is some confusion over the rankings, however, as in last year’s report, India was shown to be at 129 place in 2018 though the current report records the country's rank that year as 130.

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Published on December 16, 2020

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