New Delhi: India climbed up a spot to rank 130 out of 189 countries in the latest human development rankings released on Friday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). However, inequality and gender gap remain a major cause of concern.
India’s Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2017 is 0.640, which puts the country in the medium human development category. Between 1990 and 2017, India’s HDI value rose from 0.427 to 0.640, an increase of nearly 50%, indicating rapid progress in poverty eradication.
However, when India’s HDI value was discounted for inequality it fell to 0.468, or a loss of 26.8%. Neighbouring nations such as Bangladesh and Pakistan show losses because of inequality of 24.1% and 31%, respectively, the report said.
HDI is a composite index assessing progress in three basic dimensions of human development -- health as measured by life expectancy at birth, knowledge measured by mean years of education, and standard of living measured by per capita gross national income.
Movements in HDI are driven by changes in health, education and income. For India, health has improved considerably as shown by life expectancy at birth. Between 1990 and 2017, India’s life expectancy at birth increased by nearly 11 years, with even more significant gains in expected years of schooling.
“Today’s Indian school-age children can expect to stay in school for 4.7 years longer than in 1990. India’s gross national income (GNI) per capita increased by a staggering 266.6% between 1990 and 2017,” the report said.
It said development schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Swachh Bharat, and Make in India, “are aimed at universalising school education and health care. These will be crucial in ensuring that the upward trend of human development accelerates and also for achieving the Prime Minister’s vision of development for all and the key principle of the Sustainable Development Goals—to leave no one behind,” said Francine Pickup, country director, UNDP India. Gender gaps in early years are closing, but inequalities persist in adulthood, the report said.
The report highlighted that challenges are also evident in India, where women remain significantly less politically, economically and socially empowered than men. “Women hold only 11.6% of parliamentary seats and only 39% of adult women have reached at least a secondary level of education as compared to 64% males. Female participation in the labour market is 27.2 % compared to 78.8% for men,” the report said.