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India growing' It’s not showing
- Country unable to break out of class of laggards in UN assessment

New Delhi, Nov. 27: The world’s second highest economic growth rate has not yet helped India hoist itself away from its customary position in the global development report card.

The Human Development Report for 2007-08 released by the UNDP today ranked India 128 out of 177 countries, working it out through measures of life expectancy, education and income.

India’s human development index (HDI) of 0.619 puts it just below Equatorial Guinea (0.642) and Solomon Islands (0.602). India’s life expectancy of 63.7 years is sandwiched between Comoros (64.1) and Mauritania (63.2), while Malawi and Rwanda have higher adult literacy than India.

The report found that India’s GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is $3,452, far below China’s $6,757.

Iceland is at the top with Norway, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, France, the US, the UK, Israel, and Singapore among the top 25 nations in the development chart.

India was ranked 126 by the HDR 2006, a rung higher than the previous year’s 127. This year, it continues to be dubbed a country at medium level of human development.

An economist said he was not surprised that the country’s impressive economic growth rate — only China’s growth surpasses India’s 9 per cent — was not reflected in the human development report.

“Our growth has been lopsided, and has not yet percolated to the masses,” Shyama Prasad Gupta, an economist and a former member of the Planning Commission, said,

India’s richest 20 per cent account for about 31 per cent of the share of income or expenditure, while the poorest 20 per cent account for around 8 per cent, the report said.

“We have two countries in one,” said Abhay Shukla, senior programme coordinator with Sathi-Cehat, a non-government organisation engaged in health and development issues.

The report has ranked India 62 among 108 developing countries in its human poverty index which measures severe deprivation in health in people who are not expected to survive age 40.

“We’re witnessing something called development polarisation. About 20 per cent of the population is showing low mortality and low fertility, key features associated with development, but in the rest of the population we don’t see this change in any significant way,” Shukla said.

The UNDP report suggests that India’s commitment to education measured through public spending dropped from 12 per cent of total government expenditure in 1991 to 10 per cent in 2005.

India’s public spending on health is only 0.9 per cent of its GDP, a fraction of 8.3 per cent in Iceland, 6.9 per cent in the US, 7 per cent in the UK, and lower than China’s 1.8 per cent.

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