Head in sand: Rejecting HCI rankings won’t help India

Head in sand: Rejecting HCI rankings won’t help India


  1. India ranked at 115 out of 157 countries on Human Capital Index (HCI) released by World Bank as part of World Development Report (WDR) 2019.
  2. Broader theme of the World Development Report (WDR) this year is “The Changing Nature of Work”.
  3. Components of Human Capital Index:

Important Facts:

  1. India rejects World Bank’s HCI report over data gaps and methodological weaknesses.
  2. The key observations regarding HCI for India in the Report are as under:
  • Human Capital Index: A child born in India today will be only 44 per cent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.
  • Probability of Survival to Age 5: 96 out of 100 children born in India survive to age 5.
  • Expected Years of School: In India, a child who starts school at age 4 can expect to complete 10.2 years of school by her 18th birthday.
  • Harmonized Test Scores: Students in India score 355 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment.
  • Learning-adjusted Years of School: Factoring in what children actually learn, expected years of school is only 5.8 years.
  • Adult Survival Rate: Across India, 83 percent of 15-year olds will survive until age 60.
  • Healthy Growth (Not Stunted Rate): 62 out of 100 children are not stunted. 38 out of 100 children are stunted, and so at risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime.
  • Gender Differences: In India, HCI for girls is marginally higher than for boys.
  • The HCI in India for females is marginally better than that for males.
  • Further, there has been marked improvement in the HCI components in India over the last five years.
  1. However, New Delhi has cited so-called methodological weaknesses to reject the index such as:
  • For instance, for the schooling parameter, quantity is assessed using enrolment rates reported by UNESCO.
  • Quality is measured using harmonized test scores from major international student achievement testing programs.
  • Complaint against the data for quality of education pertains to 2009 assessment by Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which was conducted for only two states, namely Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu
  • The use of PISA and TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) scores raises questions of possible conflict of interest as the methodology for testing is largely controlled by non UN agencies and is not globalized unlike the methodology of UNICEF and WHO.
  1. Other Keys Factors which has been neglected by the report:
  • The differences in development outcomes arising from governance issues, political systems, socio-cultural context, and legacy issues
  • It would be more useful to developing countries if the Index focused on enabling them to measure and improve the cost-effectiveness of their spending on health and education.
  • HCI score for India does not reflect the key initiatives that are being taken for developing human capital in the country such as:
    • Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan
    • Ayushman Bharat Programme
    • Swachh Bharat Mission
    • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
    • Pradhan Mantri Jandhan Yojana
  • These initiatives are transforming human capital in India at rapid pace and very comprehensively.
  1. The Government of India, therefore, has decided to ignore the HCI and will continue to undertake its path breaking programme for human capital development aiming to rapidly transforming quality and ease of life for all its children.
  2. Global performance:
  • The HCI measures the Index outcomes for each country as a fraction of maximum value of 1.
  • As expected the advanced economies such as North America and Europe mostly have HCI value of above 0.75, while South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa have the lowest HCI among the regions.


  1. As part of this report, the World Bank has launched a Human Capital Project (HCP).
  2. About Human Capital Project (HCP):
  • As part of the WDR, the World Bank has launched a Human Capital Project (HCP).
  • The HCP programme is claimed to be a program of advocacy, measurement and analytical work to raise awareness and increase demand for intervention in order to build human capital.
  1. There are three components of HCP
  • A cross-country human capital measurement metric called the Human Capital Index (HCI)
  • A programme of measurement and research to inform policy action
  • A programme of support for country strategies to accelerate investment in human capital.
Print Friendly and PDF