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Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 04, 2010
India has been ranked among top 10 global countries on income gain but widening disparity between rich and poor and gender inequality have been identified as major challenges in a United Nations report released on Thursday. The Human Development Report 2010 said India gained 15 positions on global Human Development Index (HDI) because of a high income growth since 1970. However, on overall HDI, Nepal, being the second fastest HDI gainer globally, did much better.

The Real Wealth of Nations report had incorporated the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) and Gender Inequality Index (GII) along with Gross Domestic Production (GDP) in the methodology devised by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq to measure HDI.

“Economic growth has been impressive but inequality is on the rise,” said Partice Coeur-Bizot, UN representative in India. The report showed that there was a 30% loss in India’s HDI value when adjusted for inequality.

Around 55% Indians are poor as per MPI and the country has been ranked 122 among 138 countries on global GII. Of the total poor on MPI in India, a majority of who live in rural India, 47% are tribals.

The report highlighted what has been high on the political stage with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi speaking about priority to bridge rich-poor divide on Wednesday at the AICC session. “I feel we have a long way to go (to provide a decent living to all),” said Sayeeda Hamid, Planning Commission member, in-charge of health.

The world’s biggest job programme National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme got special mention for improving income in rural India but the report said the extent of gains of economic liberalisation for the society as a whole needed careful investigation. Limited reach of public health among the poor and teacher absenteeism in public schools were cited as major constraints.

South Asia indicators

South Asia continued to be poor on overall HDI indicators with half of world’s poor are in the region.

Pakistan, Bangladesh and 8 states in India among worst in the world in health and education indicators.

South Asia is characterised by relatively weaker female empowerment with an inequality loss of 35% compared to 16% in developed countries.

Nepal is the world’s third fastest HDI mover.