The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Human face’ ugly as ever

New Delhi, Sept. 7: India may be crowing about its economic growth but a UN body feels the boom has not led to proportional human development.

The UN Development Programme’s human development report 2005 has ranked India 127th among 177 countries surveyed on the composite index of a long, healthy life, literacy and gender equality. India had ranked 127th last year too.

“Evidence suggests that the pick-up in (economic) growth has not translated into a commensurate decline in poverty,” the report says, in a sharp indictment of India’s tall claims on “overall” growth.

“More worrying, improvements in child and infant mortality rates are slowing' one in every 11 Indian children dies in the first five years of life'. One in four girls and more than one in 10 boys do not attend primary school.”

Compared to India, Bangladesh is at a far lower level of income and growth, the report says, but it is doing extremely well in reducing child mortality.

The report says India could be aiming to become a developed nation by 2020, but it would have to wait for another century to achieve that status.

As per the 2000-05 growth trends, “it will still take India until 2106 to catch up with high- income countries”.

Some other statistics quoted by the report are:

• India accounts for one in five child deaths in the world

• Only 42 per cent of the children are immunised

• A person born in India lives 14 years less than one born in the US.

The saddest thing about the report, says S.P. Gupta, former member of the Planning Commission, is that similar findings over the years had not had much impact on policy.

“There should have been institutional changes' (But) the same food for work programme gets talked about but the poor don’t receive anything. It is most unfortunate.”

Jairam Ramesh, a member of the Congress think tank, said: “Our HDI has not shown the kind of improvement that is commensurate with economic growth and this is worrisome.”

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