The pronounced differences in human development
- Governments must prioritise human development alongside economic growth in order to more evenly distribute the benefits of growth.
- What is Human Development?
- Human development is a concept with multiple dimensions.
- Recognizing that economic growth does not automatically result in an increase in wealth for everyone, human development focuses on the role of individuals in bettering the condition of human life.
- Income growth is merely a tool and not an end in itself.
- Human development is about granting people greater freedom and opportunities to live their lives as they choose. People should be able to develop and utilise their abilities for this purpose.
About Human Development Index
- The HDI is a composite statistic created by the United Nations Development Programme.
- Its purpose is to evaluate and compare the level of human development in various regions of the world. It was introduced in 1990 as an alternative to conventional economic measures like Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which do not take into account the broader aspects of human development.
The HDI assesses a country’s average accomplishment in three aspects
- A long and healthy life,
- Knowledge, and
- A comfortable living standard.
India’s rank in HDI 2021-22
- According to the Human Development Report for 2021-22, India is ranked 132 out of 191 nations, behind Bangladesh (129) and Sri Lanka (133). (73).
Subnational or State-wise HDI:
Significance of Subnational HDI for India
- India is currently one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Nonetheless, this growth has not been accompanied by an increase in its Human Development Index (HDI).
- It is essential, given India’s size and population, to address the subnational or State-by-State disparities in human development.
- This will assist India in realising its demographic dividend.
Data on the new Index
- The new index measuring human development on a subnational level for 2019-20 was created by a single expert using the methodology suggested by the UNDP and the National Statistical Office (NSO).
- The subnational HDI demonstrates that while some states have made substantial progress, others are still struggling.
Highest HDI scores
- The five states with the highest HDI scores are Delhi, Goa, Kerala, Sikkim, and Chandigarh.
- Delhi and Goa have HDI scores above 0.800, making them comparable to Eastern European countries with a very high level of human development.
High HDI scores
- Nineteen states, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Telangana, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh, have scores between 0.7 and 0.799 and are categorised as states with a high level of human development.
Low HDI scores
- The states with the lowest levels of human development are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Assam.
- This category also includes Odisha, Rajasthan, and West Bengal, which have HDI scores below the national average.
- The scores of these underperforming states are comparable to those of Congo, Kenya, Ghana, and Namibia.
- Despite having the highest per capita SGDP among the larger states, Gujarat and Haryana have failed to translate this advantage into human development and rank twenty-first and tenth, respectively.
- Kerala stands out with consistently high HDI values over the years, which can be attributed to its high literacy rates, robust healthcare infrastructure, and relatively high income levels.
- Bihar, on the other hand, has consistently held the lowest HDI value among the states, due to its high poverty levels, low literacy rates, and poor healthcare infrastructure.
Reasons for discrepancies:
Uneven economic growth
- The uneven distribution of economic growth is one of the primary factors contributing to this disparity.
- The wealthiest 10% of the Indian population account for more than 77% of the total. This has led to substantial disparities in access to fundamental amenities, healthcare, and education.
Quality of services
- While India has made significant progress in reducing poverty and expanding access to healthcare and education, the quality of these services remains a cause for concern.
- For instance, despite the country’s near-universal enrollment in primary education, the quality of education remains low.
Lack of socioeconomic safety nets
- A significant portion of India’s low HDI score is due to the absence of “socioeconomic safety nets” for the urban poor.
- Socioeconomic safety nets are transfer programmes designed to prevent the poor and those at risk of poverty from falling below a certain poverty threshold.
Struggle with Health indicators
- India still faces problems such as poor health, lack of a sufficient number of doctors, lack of expenditure on health, poor sanitation, lack of safe drinking water, increased drug resistance of numerous diseases, lack of infrastructure in remote areas, etc.
Suggestions & way ahead
- Governments must prioritise human development alongside economic growth to ensure that the benefits of growth are distributed more equitably.
- This requires a multifaceted approach that
- addresses income inequality and gender inequality;
- improves access to quality social services;
- addresses environmental challenges; and
- provides for greater investment in social infrastructure such as healthcare, education, and basic household amenities including access to clean water. Specifically for its youth, India must prioritise investments in human development and job creation.
Daily Mains Question
[Q] What is the significance of India’s Subnational or State-level Human Development Index (HDI)? What are the reasons for India’s low HDI score? Suggestions for improvement