ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Three Decades of HDI

Tackling gender and income disparities will boost India’s human development record.

The Human Development Index (HDI), which combines indicators of life expectancy, education or access to knowledge and income or standard of living, captures the level and changes to the quality of life. The index, initially launched as an alternative measure to the gross domestic product, is the making of two acclaimed economists from Pakistan and India, namely Mahbub ul Haq and Amartya Sen. It stresses the centrality of human deve­lop­ment in the growth process and was first rolled out by the United Nations Development Programme in 1990. The most recent HDI for 2019 in the Human Development Report (HDR) 2020 ranks as many as 189 countries, with Norway, Ireland and Switzerland in the top three rungs. While the adjusted per capita income of the top 10 nations in the index is in the $55,000–$70,000 range, many nations with similar or more incomes like the United States (US), United Arab Emirates and Qatar are ranked far below in the 17th, 31st and 45th positions, respectively, as their human development gains fall far short of the top ranked nations. Thus, while the size of economic resources is a key factor affecting human development, the distribution and allocation of these resources also play a major role in determining the level of human development.

The 2019 HDI ranks India with a per capita income of $6,681 in the 131st position, a notch lower than its 130th rank in 2018, which puts it in the medium human development category. And India’s HDI ranking was five rungs lower than its ranking on the income front, again indicating its lagging quality of life. In contrast, Bangladesh’s HDI ranking of 133 was seven rungs higher than its ranking in terms of income, indicating its success in boosting the quality of life far beyond its material constraints. However, trends for the last three decades indicate that India has raised its HDI score at an annual average rate of 1.42%, almost a third higher than the 1% growth clocked by developing countries as a whole. But India’s gains still lag behind many other Asian nations like China (1.47%), Bangladesh (1.64%), Cambodia (1.66%) and Myanmar (1.86%).

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Updated On : 16th Jan, 2021
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