India’s Human Development IndexThe contest between India’s GDP and the Human Development Index (HDI) as the most appropriate measure ofthe performance of a country has been longstanding. While GDP is a measure of income, HDI is one thatindicates the wellbeing of citizens. The HDI is a composite statistic used to rank countries by degree of ‘humandevelopment,’ which is considered synonymous with ‘standard of living’ and/or ‘quality of life.’ The first HumanDevelopment Report introduced a new way of measuring development by combining indicators of lifeexpectancy, educational attainment and income into a composite human development index, the HDI. Thebreakthrough for the HDI was the creation of a single statistic which was to serve as a frame of reference for bothsocial and economic development. The HDI sets a minimum and a maximum for each dimension, calledgoalposts, and then shows where each country stands in relation to these goalposts, expressed as a value 1between 0 and 1 .Current scenarioWhile it has shown considerable potential in its performance on economic indicators such as GDP, India has yetto improve its position on the HDI to realize the potential that GDP has to offer. The country remains at thebottom of the ladder in terms of HDI. According to UN India’s Human Development Report, India is in the 2medium human development category and is ranked 134 among 187 countries . The following table indicates thecountry’s HDI comparing trends from 1980 - present. Human Development Index Year India Medium human development South Asia World 2011 0.547 0.630 0.548 0.682 2010 0.542 0.625 0.545 0.679 2009 0.535 0.618 0.538 0.676 2008 0.527 0.612 0.532 0.674 2007 0.523 0.605 0.527 0.670 2006 0.512 0.595 0.518 0.664 2005 0.504 0.587 0.510 0.660 2000 0.461 0.548 0.468 0.634 1995 0.437 0.517 0.444 0.613 1990 0.410 0.480 0.418 0.594 1985 0.380 0.450 0.389 0.576 1980 0.344 0.420 0.356 0.558Source: International Human Development Indicators – UNDP website, Countries Section 3Factors behind India’s low FDIHealthThe liberalization and globalization policy has been biased towards economic growth rather than social development.Allocations for public healthcare spending have increased marginally from 1 percent to just about 1.4 percent of the
GDP in a period of six months till Feb 2010. Consequently, a large proportion of health expenditure - about 4 per cent ofthe GDP - is left to be borne out of private income, which results in inequity.EducationIndia has, for long, been cautious in its approach towards spending on education. The Right to Education Bill was indanger of being shelved on the grounds that it was too expensive for the government. Indias low scores on humandevelopment have much to do with the absence of safety nets for the urban poor.The country still accounts for around 30 percent of the world’s illiterate population, and 70 percent of these people arewomen.Urban povertyThere is no urban equivalent of the National Rural Health Mission or the National Rural Employment GuaranteeScheme.Environmental performanceThe country ranks 125 among 132 countries on Yale Universitys Environmental Performance Index, behind the likes ofPakistan, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan. 3Next StepsEducationThe education policy of successive governments should be more inclusive in nature, with equal emphasis on enrollmentas well as improvement in the overall functioning and quality of schools.Governments need to strengthen the outreach of their education reforms while increasing the availability of informationto remote corners of the country.HealthThe Indian Government needs to devise effective policies in the public health sector with cohesive involvement from allrelevant stakeholders. These include hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, health educators, health professionals, andlogistics companies engaged in health-related service delivery. At the same time, the government needs to lay sufficientemphasis on wider determinants of healthcare such as food and livelihood security, drinking water, women’s literacy,nutrition and sanitation.The public health policy should not only focus on the prevention of diseases by providing clean water and sanitation. Itshould also stress on fighting disease by administering antibiotics, which can be facilitated through the appropriatetraining of public health specialists and the development of health facilities at all levels.Employment and skillsTo address the issue of growing unemployment among the country’s youth, the government has to focus on bridging thegap in terms of labor and income, improve working conditions, and introduce policies that protect the rights of the labourclass.The substantive unorganised sector should be strengthened and sustained with investment for consistent growth.Social protectionMigrant workers, women and children, the elderly, physically challenged individuals and tribal communities are amongthe marginalised sections of society. They need the allegiance of government reforms, laws, rights and policies forincreased human development. Thus, it is imperative that their socialprotection needs are identified, addressed andregularly monitored.
The effective participation of the people is a prerequisite to facilitating accountability in social transfers. Therefore, the need of the hour is to tackle issues of economic and social equity, gender bias, and illiteracy at the grassroots level. In addition, the Indian Government should design a framework to monitor and evaluate the performance of reform programs and conduct impact assessments of these programs to facilitate the efficient utilization of tax payers’ money. Sources: 1. Human Development Index Definition, Human Development Reports,UNDP website 2. Why is an emerging economy like India doing so badly on human development index? The Economic Times , India, AnahitaMukharjee (June 3,2012) 3. Emerging Issues and Policy Perspectives Indian Institute for Human Development Website, World Bank Consultation Report, Feb,2010 KBuzz Home | Archive topSubscription Please click here to subscribe to KBuzzRelated content KBuzz Home | ArchiveDownload the PDF
India and the Human Development IndexByLekhniPublished: October 6, 2009Posted in: DesiPundit, India, OpinionThere’s the usual hand-wringing in the Indian newspapers today about India being 134 (among 182 countries) in the HumanDevelopment Index (HDI) compiled by the UNDP. This is another report that is going to have its 5 minutes of fame, andwill be forgotten tomorrow.The report itself is about human migration, and there are really no surprises there. People from medium and high HDI indexregions move equally to developing and developed countries. People in very HDI regions move mainly to developedcountries. We know all that already, so let’s look at the list itself, and India’s place in it.India is classified as a medium HDI country, much below such notables of human development as Algeria and Mongolia andEquatorial Guinea. Oh, even the occupied Palestinian territories fare better than India. That alone is enough to tell you allyou need to know about the measures the UNDP researchers were using, and their relevance. Yes, at an absolute level Indiadoes need to improve on life expectancy and literacy and so on. But are we really worse off than Turkmenistan or Suriname?This is how, according to the report, HDI is measured:The human development index (HDI) is a summary measure of a country’ s human development. It measures the averageachievements in a country in three basic dimensions:• a long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth;• access to knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate and the combined gross enrolment (sic) ratio in education; and• a decent standard of living, as measured by GDP per capita in purchasing power parity(PPP) US dollars.These three dimensions are standardized to values between 0 and 1, and the simple average is taken to arrive at the overallHDI value in the range 0 to 1. Countries are then ranked on the basis of this value with a rank of 1 representing the highestHDI value.Clearly, freedom, democracy or general human happiness are not part of HDI.I’m also not sure how the researchers account for variances within the population – you could expect, for instance, that theMaldives (rank 95) would have a more homogeous HDI than India – i.e. everyone in India would not have the same HDI. Sothey are relegating a billion people to a lower HDI than most of them might have.
But the last part is the best – the report says they take an average of life expectancy and literacy and GDP, and compute theaverage HDI for that country.This means that if you have, say, an oil-rich country with very high GDP and decent life expectancy but very low educationlevels (and no individual freedoms and a lot of societal restrictions), that country would score high on the HDI? Nice. Thisis not even hypothetical – if you take a look at the list, you’ll see several examples.
What is meant by the human development index (HDI)?• Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary of comparative achievements in fields like lifeexpectancy, literacy, education and the standard of living of the people etc. of a country adoptedas a standard measure of the countrys development in most of the countries of the world today.• It is used as a standard of measure to gauge the improvements made in the well-being of thepeople of a country more especially the developments relating to the child welfare.• Human Development Index is used to know whether the country is a developed, a developing oran underdeveloped economy. It is measure to understand and judge the impact of the economicpolicies of a country on the quality of the life of its people.• Human Development Index was first developed in 1990 by a Pakistani economist MahbubulHaqand India born American Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen.• Based on their HDI, the countries of the world are broadly divided into high, medium and lowhuman development.• As per the UN estimates of 2010 released on June 10, 2011, Indias rank in the list stood at 122in the medium category out of the list 172 countries. 23 members of the UN were not included inthe list due to non-availability of data.Historical background of Human Development Index• For the first time, the United Nations calculated the HDI of its member nations in 1975. The firstHuman Development Report by the UN was published in 1990. The two economists of Asian origin,MahbubulHaq from Pakistan and AmartyaSen from India were responsible for this report. This firstreport on human development laid emphasis on the real per capita income of the country as ameasure for the countrys development and well-being. The report however does not indicate thatthe countrys people as a whole are better off. The HDI examined the criteria like health and lifeexpectancy, education, work and leisure time to judge the countrys development.The Human Development Index today• Presently, there are three basic elements which are examined to measure the countrys growthand achievements. These are as following: (1) Health of the countrys people by measuring the lifeexpectancy at birth; (2) Overall knowledge level of the country which is measured by adult literacyrate in combination with the gross enrollment ratios of students from the primary school level tothe university level; and (3) Standard of living of the country measured according to the grossdomestic product per capita in purchasing power parity terms, based on US dollars.• By use of the above criteria, the measure the countries with higher life expectancy rates willrank higher than those with the lower life expectancies. In the same way the countries with higher
overall level of knowledge will rank higher than those with lower overall knowledge levels. Lastlythe countries with higher standards of living will rank higher than with the lower standards ofliving.• For the purpose of accurate calculation of each of the above mentioned dimensions for theHuman Development Index, a separate index is calculated for each of the above items based onthe raw data collected during the study of each of the items in question. The raw data so collectedis put into a formula with minimum and maximum values to create an index. The three indices arefirst calculated separately for each country based on the date of life expectancy, gross enrollmentand gross domestic product. Finally a summary of all these indices is made to measure the HumanDevelopment Index (HDI) of a country.Criticism of the Human Development Index• Whenever a new experiment is made, there are bound to be criticism of the same. So is also thecase with the Human Development Index which has been criticized from time to time for a numberof reasons.• One criticism against the Human Development Index it that it does not focus on ecologicalconsiderations while ranking the countries.• Another criticism of the Human Development Index is that the HDI is not formed with a globalperspective in mine and instead examines each country independently.• Some critics point out the redundancy of the HDI pointing out that it measures those aspects ofdevelopment which have been already studied worldwide and the HDI is only a duplication of theworks already carried out previously.• In spite all these criticisms, the HDI is widely used today all over the world. It is considered to beimportant since it draws the attention of the governments, corporations and internationaldevelopmental organisation so that they can focus their attention on the important aspects ofhealth and education other than the national income of the countries.Indias HDI is rises by 21% as per India Development Report 2011• India has progressed a lot due to its fast growing economy and liberalization approach to theeconomy for the past two decades. The effect of the growth has made the government toformulate its 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017) guided by the Human Development Report onhealth, education and other correlated issues.• The Planning Commission has released the second India Human Development Report (HDR)2011 last week claiming a rise of 21% in the Human Development Index over the last decade. Thelast report was released by the Commission in the year 2000.• Another claim made in the report is about the declining trends in poverty, unemployment andchild labour and inter-state disparities.
• Human Development Index has sown great strides in education which rose by 28.5%. Most ofthe thrust came from enrollment at primary level which stood at 96 per cent.• Health Index has risen by 13% during the period of study.• The level of poverty still remains alarming as calculated by the Human Development Index. Theabsolute number of the poor is 27% although it is less from 320 million poor in 1973 to thepresent number of 302 million. The report shows that 60% of the poor are still concentrated inBihar state.• About the children in employment, the report says that most of the working children areengaged in work as part of their families own enterprises and farms.• The report indicated rise in regular and casual wages and reduction in unemployment.• The Report which is prepared by the Institute of Applied Manpower Research of the Commissionclaims that the HDI for India rose by 21 per cent between the periods from 2000 to 2007 which ishigher than China which recorded 17 per cent increase during the same period. It is even morethan the 18 per cent rise during the period recorded by the Global Human Development Report,2010. The HDI which read 0.387 in 1999-2000 stood at 0.467 in 2007-08.• State wise, the states of Kerala, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Punjab hold the top fivepositions led by Kerala in that order. It is the same as held by them in the first India HDR of 2000.• Kerala is at the top of all the states in India showing the highest literacy rate, quality healthservices and consumption of expenditure of the people of Kerala.• Haryana slipped two places from 7th position to the 9th.• A small improvement has been shown by Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand which stand at9th and 14th position respectively.• In spite of the high economic progress claimed by the Gujarat state it stood at the 11th slot dueto a very high degree of malnutrition among the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe womenamong the industrialized states.• The states with the lowest HDI which is even the lower than the national average of 0.467 areBihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Assam.• SantoshMehrotra, the lead author of the report says, "Among the poorer states, only Rajasthanand West Bengal have shown HDI improvement below the national average."• Muslims posted the sharpest decline in total fertility rate among all social groups and the highestincrease in contraception prevalence rate. Muslims fare better than SCs and STs on other humandevelopment indicators. A higher percentage of the minority group has access to toilets too.• The eight poor states of Bihar, UP, MP, Orissa, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttrakhand, andChhattisgarh which constitute of about 48 per cent of all SCs, 52 per cent of all STs and 44 percent of all Muslims, have shown improvement in the HDI across these groups.• The HDI has revealed that the Scheduled Castes and the Other Backward Classes in Delhi, HP,Tamil Nadu and Kerala are better placed than upper castes in Bihar and UP in terms of healthindicators and Muslims in Andhra are better than Hindus there and better than Hindus in UP, MP,Bihar and Gujarat.
• The HD Report has expressed concern that health, nutrition and sanitation has remained the keychallenges for the country.• The India Human Development Report was released by the Union Rural Development Minister Shri Jairam Ramesh and the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia on October 21, 2011.