Indian Improves Its Human Development

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India improved its rank in the United Nations Human Development Index from 130 in 2017 to 129 in 2018.


  • The United Nations Human Development Programme (UNDP) released the 2019 Human Development Report (HDR).
  • Human Development Index (HDI), an important aspect of the HDR, measures human development in three basic dimensions – life expectancy, education and per capita income.
  • Among 189 countries the HDI measured, India is ranked at 129 in 2018.
  • This is an improvement from 130 in 2017.
  • According to the report, the gains India made in the past three decades in reducing poverty, increasing life expectancy, providing access to education and access to health care are the reasons for the improvement in India’s ranking.
  • Further, the report noted that initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Jan Than Yojana and Ayushman Bharat are important in pushing ahead human development and leave no one behind.

Other Countries

  • The top three positions are occupied by Norway, Switzerland, and Ireland.
  • Germany and Hong Kong are in fourth place and Australia is in fifth place.
  • Among Indian neighbours, countries that are ranked above India are Sri Lanka at 71st position and China at 85th position.
  • Bhutan is ranked at 134, Bangladesh at 135, Myanmar at 145, Nepal at 147, Pakistan at 152 and Afghanistan at 170 are ranked lower.

High Growth in South Asia

  • According to the report, the fastest growth in human progress at 46% between 1990-2018 is in the South Asia region followed by East Asia and the Pacific region at 43%.
  • As per the report, the HDI value of India increased by 50% from 0.431 to 0.647. This is above the average HDI of South Asian countries which is 0.642.
  • But, the reported noted that inequality in the country is on the rise.
  • In the inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI), India dropped by one place to 130 and almost halving the progress made in the last 30 years from 0.647 to 0.477.

Gender Inequality

  • The report notes that there is group-inequality across the world especially affecting women and girls.
  • There is gender equality anywhere in the world.
  • India is at 122 among 162 countries in Gender Inequality Index (GII).
  • Neighbouring countries that fare better than India are China – 39, Sri Lanka – 86, Bhutan – 99 and Myanmar – 106.
  • Also, the report notes that the world will not be able to achieve the UN sustainable development goal of gender equality by 2030.
  • It forecasts that the world will close the gender gap in the economy only after 202 years.
  • GII uses three dimensions to measure gender disparity – reproductive health, labor market participation, and empowerment.
  • The 2019 HDR report also presents a new report on how prejudices and biases affect gender equality.
  • It shows that only 14% of women and 10% of men across the world have no gender bias.
  • This, the report indicates is a backlash on women empowerment and has a significant impact in areas where power is involved, especially in countries like India.
  • One of the major findings of the report that climate change and technological innovations will lead to new forms of inequalities and may deepen the existing social and economic fault lines.
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