India Fares Poorly in UNDP’s Human Development Index

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The Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was released on March 14, 2013. India was ranked 136th among 187 countries in the HDI, which measures progress in life expectancy, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living or gross national income per capita.

The index puts India’s HDI value for 2012 at 0.554, which places the country in the medium human development category. Others that share this category with India include Equatorial Guinea, a very poor African country. On the positive side, however, India’s HDI value went up from 0.345 to 0.554 between 1980 and 2012. It reflected an increase of 61 percent or an average annual increase of 1.5 percent. Life expectancy at birth in India increased by 10.5 years during the period under consideration. Mean years oft schooling rose by 2.5 years and expected years of schooling by 4.4 years. Importantly, the gross national income (GNI) per capita went up 273 percent. Despite India’s progress, its HDI of 0.554 is below the average of 0.64 for countries in the medium human development group. India’s HDI is also below the average of 0.558 for countries in South Asia.

On the Gender Equality Index (inequalities in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity), India has been tanked 132 out of 148 which data is available. In India, only 10.9 percent of the parliamentary seats are held by women, and only 26.6 percent of adult women have reached a secondary or higher level of education, in comparison with 50.4 percent of their male counterparts. For every 1,00,000 live births, 200 women die of causes related to pregnancy. Female participation in the labour market is a lowly 29 percent, compared with 80.7 percent for men. All these findings point to the unequal status of the country’s women folk.