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Even Botswana is ahead of India

Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi | July 09, 2003 00:04 IST

Even as India's overall ranking in human development index slipped to 127 from 124, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) report for 2003 says the country has made some progress in adult literacy and poverty reduction as compared to neighbours like Pakistan and Nepal.

The annual Human Development Report – 2003 released by the UNDP on Tuesday gave poor marks to India in the field of health, one of the important indicators of human development.

The report says life expectancy of Indians continues to remain at last year's level of 63.3 years at the time of birth.

According to UNDP, the adult literacy rate in India has increased from 57.2 per cent last year to 58 per cent this year.

Per capita GDP has also increased from $2,358 in 2002 to $2,840 in 2003, the report says.

The report attributed India's position mainly to gaps in literacy between the under-privileged sections of the society and the rest of the population, under-nutrition, poor infrastructure and high mortality rates.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K C Pant, however, sought to downplay India's slippage by three places, saying it had been due to the inclusion of two countries.

Both Bosnia Herzegovina and Occupied Palestinian Territories have been ranked above India. Also, Botswana has improved its position from last year and has moved ahead of India in ranking.

The Human Development Index is a statistic compiled on the basis of life expectancy, literacy and GDP per capita.

India's HDI last year was 0.577 points. It has now become 0.590 points. The UNDP report was released worldwide on Tuesday.

While releasing the report at the UNDP office in New Delhi, Pant said there has been improvement in some areas, but still lot more needs to be done.

The report cites India as one of the few countries on track to halve the number of people living below poverty line by the year 2015.

It also praised the states of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal for their efforts to decentralise the process of development.

The report says there has been tremendous improvement in gender literacy gaps in the states of Madhya Pradesh and to some extent in Rajasthan,Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Also, the southern Indian state of Kerala has health indicators similar to those of the United States.

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