India ranks 128 out of 177 countries in the latest human development index released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New Delhi on Tuesday. The country ranked 126 in 2006.
Releasing the report, officials of the UN agency said India would have ranked 128 even last year had updated data been used for other countries. So the country has not slipped in ranking, the UNDP clarified.
Still, India has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to get anywhere close to China in terms of human development, though the two countries are often compared in terms of their economic strengths.
China ranks 81 in this year's index, released as part of the Human Development Report (HDR).
In South Asia, Sri Lanka (rank 99) and Maldives (100) are ahead of India, while Bhutan (133), Pakistan (136), Bangladesh (140) and Nepal (142) are behind. The data for Afghanistan was not available.
Ricardo Fuertes, one of the authors of this year's report, said India had in fact improved in all parameters of human development, adding the slip in ranking was also due to a different way the United National Population Fund had defined life expectancy this year.
The human development index (HDI) of a country that determines its ranking is based on life expectancy, adult literacy and school enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, along with income.
The UNDP said India improved its HDI from 0.611 (maximum 1) in 2006 to 0.619 in 2007 and had made steady improvement since the first HDR was published in 1990.
Interestingly, Iceland overtook Norway to top the human development ranking. Norway, which had held the top position for the last six years, is a close second.