The wide disparities in human development



    • Governments must prioritise human development alongside economic growth to ensure that the benefits of growth are more evenly distributed.

    What is Human Development?

    • Human development is a multidimensional concept.
    • Why?
      • With the finding that economic growth does not bring automatic growth in wealth for everyone, human development focuses on the role of the people themselves in bringing human life to a better condition
      • Growth in income is only a tool rather than a final goal.
    • How?
      • Human development is about providing more freedom and opportunity for people for living their lives as they wish. 
      • For this, people should be able to improve and use their capabilities.

    About Human Development Index

    • About:
      • The HDI is a composite statistical measure created by the United Nations Development Programme. 
      • It aims to evaluate and compare the level of human development in different regions around the world. 
      • It was introduced in 1990 as an alternative to conventional economic measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which do not consider the broader aspects of human development. 
    • The HDI assesses a country’s average accomplishment in three aspects: 
      • A long and healthy life, 
      • Knowledge, and a 
      • Decent standard of living. 
    • India’s rank in HDI 2021-22: 
      • According to the Human Development Report of 2021-22, India ranks 132 out of 191 countries
        • India’s rank is behind Bangladesh (129) and Sri Lanka (73).

    Subnational or State-wise HDI

    • Significance of Subnational HDI for India:
      • India is now one of the fastest-growing economies globally. However, this growth has not resulted in a corresponding increase in its Human Development Index (HDI). 
      • Given India’s size and large population, it is critical to address the subnational or State-wise disparities in human development. 
      • Doing so will help India realise its demographic dividend
    • Data on the new Index:
      • The new index has been developed by an individual expert using the methodology suggested by the UNDP and the National Statistical Office (NSO) which measures human development on a subnational level for 2019-20.
      • The subnational HDI shows that while some States have made considerable progress, others continue to struggle. 
      • Highest HDI scores:
        • The five States with the highest HDI scores are Delhi, Goa, Kerala, Sikkim, and Chandigarh
          • Delhi and Goa have HDI scores above 0.799, which makes them equivalent to countries in Eastern Europe with a very high level of human development. 
      • High HDI scores:
        • Nineteen States, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Telangana, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh, have scores ranging between 0.7 and 0.799 and are classified as high human development States.
      • Low HDI scores:
        • The bottom five States are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Assam, with medium levels of human development. 
        • This category also includes States such as Odisha, Rajasthan, and West Bengal, which have HDI scores below the national average. 
          • The scores of these low-performing States resemble those of African countries such as Congo, Kenya, Ghana, and Namibia.
      • State-wise analysis:
        • Despite having the highest SGDP per capita among larger States, Gujarat and Haryana have failed to translate this advantage into human development and rank 21 and 10, respectively. 
        • Kerala stands out with consistently high HDI values over the years, which can be attributed to its high literacy rates, robust healthcare infrastructure, and relatively high-income levels. 
        • Bihar, however, has consistently held the lowest HDI value among the States, with high poverty levels, low literacy rates, and poor healthcare infrastructure being the contributing factors. 

    Reasons for discrepancies

    • Uneven economic growth:
      • One of the main reasons for this discrepancy is that economic growth has been unevenly distributed
      • The top 10% of the Indian population holds over 77% of the wealth. This has resulted in significant disparities in access to basic amenities, healthcare and education
    • Quality of services:
      • Another reason is that while India has made significant progress in reducing poverty and increasing access to healthcare and education, the quality of such services remains a concern. 
        • For example, while the country has achieved near-universal enrolment in primary education, the quality of education remains low.
    • Lack of socioeconomic safety nets:
      • Much of India has a low development score on the HDI is because of the nation not having ‘socioeconomic safety nets’ for the urban poor. 
        • Socioeconomic safety nets are transfer programs with the aim of preventing the poor or those vulnerable to poverty from falling below a certain poverty level.
    • Struggle with Health indicators:
      • India still faces issues like poor health, lack of an adequate number of doctors, lack of expenditure on health, poor sanitation, lack of safe drinking water, increased drug resistance of many diseases,  lack of infrastructure in remote locations, etc.

    Suggestions & way ahead

    • Governments must prioritise human development alongside economic growth to ensure that the benefits of growth are more evenly distributed. 
    • This requires a multi-faceted approach that 
      • addresses income inequality and gender inequality
      • improves access to quality social services
      • addresses environmental challenges; and 
      • provides for greater investment in social infrastructure such as healthcare, education, and basic household amenities including access to clean water, improved sanitation facility, clean fuel, electricity and Internet in underdeveloped States. 
    • India must prioritise investments in human development and job creation, particularly for its youth.


    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] What is the significance of the creation of the Subnational or State-wise Human Development Index (HDI) for India? What are the reasons behind India’s low score in HDI? Suggest measures to improve it.