The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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UN paints grim picture

New Delhi, Sept. 20: In a grim reminder that the Northeast has still a long way to go as far as human development is concerned, a United Nations report has shown how dismal the scenario in the region is.

It has also busted some popular myths, particularly on literacy rates and the status of women.

The Human Development Report (HDR), which has devoted an entire chapter to the Northeast for the first time, has identified several factors that have contributed to this depressing situation.

The entire region is marked by “intense pressure on agricultural land, low per capita income, a low profile of health care services and low consumer expenditure levels, thereby holding a dismal picture of human development,” the report said.

The report, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was prepared by the New Delhi-based National Council of Applied Economic Research.

While identifying a yawning gap between urban and rural areas in human development, the report said educational, health care and other welfare services are heavily concentrated in the urban areas.

“The incidence of rural poverty is far greater in the Northeast, since all the seven states reported more than 39 per cent of the population living below the poverty line in rural areas. For the urban areas, it was computed that more than 10 per cent were living below the poverty line,” the HDR, whose findings are mainly based on secondary data, said.

Though the Northeast has achieved significant success in literacy, the report points out that this has been “marred” by rural-urban disparities, inter-district variations and a high school dropout rate. Barring Manipur, the dropout rate in schools exceeded 60 per cent.

A striking feature of the health sector is the wide inter-state disparities noted by the report. For instance, while Mizoram has just a single nurse for 22,000 people, the figure is one nurse for 5,353 in Assam.

The report, which is scheduled to be published in November, has thrown up certain interesting findings about human development in the Northeast. Contrary to popular perceptions, the report stated that the status of women in society was far from being on an equal footing with that of men.

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