India is down to 128 on the Human Development Index (HDI) this year after sliding two notches, despite a marginal increase in its value points.
This, explains UNDP’s resident representative Maxine Olson, has happened because other countries have fared better on human indicators, although India has steadily advanced in the past 30 years.
India’s progress in basic human development indicators has been consistent over the past 15 years, says the report. The country has improved in all underlying indicators between 1990 and 2005. During this period, life expectancy at birth has increased by more than four years, GDP per capita has doubled and both adult literacy rate and the combined gross enrolment ratio has grown by about 12 percentage points. This has resulted in cumulative improvement in HDI value for India, says the Human Development Report 2007.
Its present HDI of 0.619 is above the regional average of 0.611 for South Asia but far below the 0.691 for developing countries.
India has performed better in HDI than Nepal and Pakistan since 1990. Maldives and Bhutan are close, ranked at 100 and 133 respectively.
Emergence of India as a high growth economy, with per capita incomes rising at an average of 4-5 per cent since the mid-90s, has created enormous opportunities for accelerated human development. But the growth has not produced poverty reduction and improvement in nutrition. About 500 million people in the country do not have access to modern electricity.
India stands at 62 in the Human Poverty Index among the 108 developing countries. HPI represents people living below a $1 per day earning.
The report also sprung some global surprises. For the first time in the last six years, Norway was edged out by Iceland for the top slot although both have the same HDI. The US, too, has slipped and is out of the top 10 club. It’s now at number 12, after Finland.