Laggard in human index

A UN report released today has ranked India 131 out of 188 countries worldwide on human development and has cited figures suggesting that about half of India's people face deprivation in education, health and living standards.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 22.03.17
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New Delhi, March 21: A UN report released today has ranked India 131 out of 188 countries worldwide on human development and has cited figures suggesting that about half of India's people face deprivation in education, health and living standards.

Inequality, multidimensional poverty and gender gaps appear to be factors holding back India's progress on the human development index (HDI), a measure linked to progress towards a long, healthy life, access to knowledge, and decent standard of living.

The UN's Human Development Report 2016 has classified India into a medium development category, thus lower than Sri Lanka ranked 73 and China ranked 90, both in high development category, but lower than Bangladesh ranked 139 and Pakistan ranked 147.

Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark are the top five ranked countries, while the list ends with Burundi, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Central African Republic.

The UNDP, which released the report, said India's HDI rose by about 45 per cent between 1990 and 2015 but progress in the Asia and Pacific region has not benefited everyone. About 54 per cent of the world's poor as measured through the "multidimensional poverty index" live in South Asia, it said.

"The world has come a long way in rolling back extreme poverty, in improving access to education, health and sanitation, and in expanding possibilities for women and girls," UNDP administrator Helen Clark said, launching the report in Stockholm.

The report, citing survey data from 2005-06, has estimated 55 per cent of India's population suffer from multidimensional poverty, measured by overlapping deprivations of education, health and living standards experienced by households.

India has a gender inequality value - a measure linked to inequality in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity - that ranks it 125 out of 159 countries. The report said gender-based inequalities linked to patriarchal social norms affect women over their entire lives and manifest as higher malnourishment, lower labour force, higher workloads and less rest, and less access to financial decision-making and the pervasive risk of violence against women.

Only about 35 per cent of Indian women complete secondary education in India, compared to 65 per cent of men. Women's participation in India's labour market is about 27 per cent compared to about 80 per cent for men.

While women have a lower HDI value than men across the world, the largest difference is in South Asia, where the HDI value for women is about 20 per cent lower than the value for men.

The report said South Asia has the highest levels of malnutrition in the world at 38 per cent, measured by the prevalence of severe or moderate stunting in children under five years of age, and the lowest public health expenditure (1.6 per cent GDP) compared to other regions.