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Human development: India at a dismal 119!

Last updated on: November 4, 2010 20:32 IST

Human development: India at a dismal 119!

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The robust economic growth notwithstanding, India has garnered a lowly 119th rank in the United Nation's Human Development Index due to poor social infrastructure, mainly in areas of education and healthcare.

In the 'Human Development Report 2010' by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that covered 169 countries and territories, India's position is way below China (89th spot) and Sri Lanka (91).

Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu said that country's goal was to improve overall human development and not merely ensure economic growth.

"The ultimate growth is human development, not only economic growth," Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu said.

He, however, added that economic growth and rise in income levels were necessary for carrying out human development initiatives like providing access to education and health, gender equality, poverty eradication and so on.

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Image: Children eat in their make-shift home in an unused waterpipe in Mumbai.
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters.
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Human development: India at a dismal 119!

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India came in the 10th position as far as improvement in the income index was concerned but lagged behind neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan in education and healthcare.

Norway has topped the HDI, with a score of 0.938, in a scale of zero to one. A score of one indicates a perfect level in the index. The Nordic country is followed by Australia at the second place (0.937) and New Zealand with a score of 0.907 ranked third.

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Image: Homeless people prepare their food on roadside in Ahmedabad.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters.
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Human development: India at a dismal 119!

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The world's largest economy US is fourth with a score of 0.902. India's position in the index has improved by one position on the basis of a five-year comparison since 2005. However, UNDP has not done any comparative ranking for countries on an annual basis.

"This time, we have taken three new indices -- inequality adjustment HDI, gender inequality index and multi-dimensional poverty index -- for our report," UNDP Resident Representative in India, Patrice Coeur-Bizot said.

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Image: New York.

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Human development: India at a dismal 119!

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Other factors that determined the HDI ranking include empowerment, inequality, education, health, demographic trends, civic and community well being.

Even though India has made steady progress in the human development index over the past 20 years, the country continues to see rising inequality, Coeur-Bizot noted.

"India...is among middle human development countries. There has been steady progress on HDI over the past 20 years and India's HDI is above the average for countries in South Asia. Economic growth has been impressive but inequality is on the rise," he said.

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Image: A malnourished child waits for food at the Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre.
Photographs: Reinhard Krause/Reuters.
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Human development: India at a dismal 119!

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When inequality -- especially in education and healthcare -- is factored in, India's HDI value would see a 30 per cent loss, according to the report.

In the gender inequality index, India is at the poor 122nd position, among 138 countries. Bangladesh and Pakistan are ranked at 116th and 112nd positions, respectively, indicating that these nations are better in gender equality than India.

This year's report assumes importance as its comes 20 years after the first Human Development Report released by UNDP. The report was released today at various places across the world.

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Image: A village school.
Photographs: Reuters
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Human development: India at a dismal 119!

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During the last 40 years, life expectancy at birth in India has improved by 16 years, but less than the 23 years in Bangladesh, the report said.

Average life expectancy at birth in India is currently 64 years, as against 67 years in Pakistan and Bangladesh. UNDP pointed out that poverty rates in eight Indian states -- that have a combined population of 421 million -- are similar to 26 of the poorest countries in Africa.

When it comes to education, the average time a kid spends in school in India is 4.4 years, much less than neighbouring Pakistan where the average is 4.9 years.

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Image: Pakistani flood victims stand in a queue to get food handouts at a relief camp.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Human development: India at a dismal 119!

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Neighbouring China and Nepal along with Indonesia, Laos, Saudi Arabia and South Korea were among the Asian countries in the top movers list, measured in terms of overall good HDI performance.

In the South Asian region, Nepal has come out as one of the best performers in the human development index. "More than four of every five children on school age in Nepal now attend primary school, compared to just one in five 40 years ago," UNDP said.

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Image: Beijing.

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Overall, China came 89th (0.663) while Russia was at 65th position (0.719) and Brazil at 73rd (0.699).

In the South Asia region, Sri Lanka was at the top at 91st position with a value score of 0.658. Maldives at 107 (0.602), Pakistan at 125 (0.490), Bangladesh at 129 (0.469), Nepal at 138 (0.428) and Afghanistan at 155 (0.349) were other countries listed in the report. Bhutan was also part of the report but it was not ranked.


Image: Children in Sri Lanka.
Photographs: Reuters.
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