NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Monday said that the states in India's southern and western region were growing rapidly, but those like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were keeping the country backward.
Speaking at the first Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan Memorial Lecture at Jamia Millia Islamia University, Kant said, "The eastern part of India, particularly states like Bihar, UP, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, is keeping India backward, especially on social indicators. While we have improved on ease of doing business, we have remained backward on human development index. We are still 131 out of 188 countries in HDI."
Talking on the 'Challenges of Transforming India,' Kant said the southern and western parts of India were doing reasonably well and growing rapidly.
"And when the country's HDI has to improve and we have to focus on these social indicators. We are working on these things through aspirational districts programme," he said.
Emphasising upon the importance of sustainable growth, Kant said, "Education and health are critical and these are areas in which India is lagging behind. Our learning outcomes are poor -- a class 5 student is not able to do class 2 subtraction. Class 5 student is not able to read his mother tongue. Infant mortality rates are very high. Unless we improve on these aspects, it will be difficult to grow in a consistent way."
He also pitched for women's participation in the decision-making process.
"There must be a conscious effort to frame policies to give women opportunities," he said.
Photograph: Sanjay Sawant/Rediff.com.