The wide disparities in human development

Source: The post is based on the article “The wide disparities in human development” published in “The Hindu” on 21st March 2023. 

Syllabus: GS2- Human resources 

Relevance: Human development-related issues 

News: India is now one of the fastest­ growing economies globally. However, this growth has not resulted in a corresponding increase in its Human Development Index.  

What are some facts related to HDI?

Must read: Human Development Index (HDI) and other Indices of UNDP

According to the Human Development Report of 2021­-22, India ranks 132 out of 191 countries. It is behind Bangladesh (129) and Sri Lanka (73).  

What method is used in the current article to measure HDI?

The HDI is calculated using four indicators: life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling,expected years of schooling, and Gross National Income (GNI) per capita.  

Life expectancy estimates are taken from the Sample Registration System. Mean and expected years of schooling are extracted from NFHS-­5 

For GNI per capita, gross state domestic product (GSDP) per capita is used as a proxy indicator to measure the standard of living. 

The methodology involves calculating the geometric mean of the normalised indices for the three dimensions of human development. HDI scores range from 0 to 1. Higher values indicate higher levels of human development. 

What is the performance of various states on Human Development as per the methodology used in this article? 

While some States have made considerable progress, others continue to struggle. Delhi occupies the top spot and Bihar occupies the bottom spot. Bihar, unlike the previous HDI reports, is no longer considered a low human development State. 

The five States with the highest HDI scores are Delhi, Goa, Kerala, Sikkim, and Chandigarh. Delhi and Goa have HDI scores above 0.799, which makes them equivalent to countries in Eastern Europe with a very high level of human development 

Nineteen States, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Telangana, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh, have scores ranging between 0.7 and 0.799. These can be classified as high human development States. 

The bottom five States are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Assam, with medium levels of human development. This category also includes States such as Odisha, Rajasthan, and West Bengal, which have HDI scores below the national average.  

The scores of these low performing States resemble those of African countries such as Congo, Kenya, Ghana, and Namibia. 

Despite having the highest GSDP per capita among larger States, Gujarat and Haryana have failed to translate this advantage into human development. They rank 21 and 10, respectively. 

Kerala stands out with consistently high HDI values over the years. It can be attributed to its high literacy rates, robust healthcare infrastructure, and relatively high income levels. 

The impact of COVID­-19 on subnational HDI is not captured here. It will be known when post-pandemic estimates are available. 

What are the reasons for the poor performance of some states on HDI?

One of the main reasons is that economic growth has been unevenly distributed. The top 10% of the Indian population holds over 77% of the wealth. This has resulted in significant disparities in access to basic amenities, like healthcare and education. 

Another reason is the quality of services provided by the government such as health and education. For example, while the country has achieved near universal enrolment in primary education, the quality of education remains low. 

What is the way forward to improve HDI? 

Governments must prioritise human development alongside economic growth to ensure that the benefits of growth are more evenly distributed.  

This requires a multi-faceted approach. It should a) address income inequality and gender inequality, b) Improves access to quality social services; and c) addresses environmental challenges.  

There is a need to provide for greater investment in social infrastructure such as healthcare, education, and basic household amenities including access to clean water, improved sanitation facility, clean fuel, electricity and Internet in underdeveloped States. 

India must prioritise investments in human development and job creation, particularly for its youth. 

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