New Delhi: India has climbed one spot to 130 out of 189 countries in the latest human development rankings released on Friday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
India's Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2017 is 0.640, which put the country in the medium human development category. Between 1990 and 2017, India's HDI value increased from 0.427 to 0.640, an increase of nearly 50 per cent - and an indicator of the country's achievements in lifting millions of people out of poverty.
Within South Asia, India's HDI value is above the average of 0.638 for the region, with Bangladesh and Pakistan, countries with similar population size, being ranked 136 and 150, respectively.
The overall trend globally is towards continued human development improvements, with many countries moving up through the human development categories: out of the 189 countries for which the HDI is calculated, 59 countries are today in the very high human development group and only 38 countries fall in the low HDI group. Just eight years ago in 2010, the figures were 46 and 49 countries, respectively.
UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner said, "On average, a child born today in a country with low human development can expect to live just over 60 years, while a child born in a country with very high human development can expect to live to almost 80. Similarly, children in low human development countries can expect to be in school seven years less than children in very high human development countries. While these statistics present a stark picture in themselves, they also speak to the tragedy of millions of individuals whose lives are affected by inequity and lost opportunities, neither of which are inevitable."
Between 1990 and 2017, India's life expectancy at birth increased by nearly 11 years, with even more significant gains in expected years of schooling. Today's Indian school-age children can expect to stay in school for 4.7 years longer than in 1990, whereas India's Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased by a staggering 266.6 per cent between 1990 and 2017.
Francine Pickup, Country Director, UNDP India, noted the steady progress made by India in improving its HDI value and said, "The Government of India is committed to improving the quality of life for all its people. The success of India's national development schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Swachh Bharat, Make in India, and initiatives aimed at universalising school education and health care, will be crucial in ensuring that the upward trend on human development accelerates and also achieve the Prime Minister's vision of development for all and the key principle of the Sustainable Development Goals -- to leave no one behind."
However, 26.8 per cent of India's HDI value is lost on account of inequalities, which is a greater loss than for most of its South Asian neighbours (the average loss for the region is 26.1 per cent). This confirms that inequality remains a challenge for India as it progresses economically, though the Government of India and various state governments have, through a variety of social protection measures, attempted to ensure that the gains of economic development are shared widely and reach the farthest first.
Challenges like violence against women, child marriage, and share of parliamentary seats for women are also evident in India, where despite considerable progress at the policy and legislative levels, women remain significantly less politically, economically and socially empowered than men.
For instance, women hold only 11.6 per cent of parliamentary seats, and only 39 per cent of adult women have reached at least a secondary level of education as compared to 64 per cent males. Female participation in the labour market is 27.2 per cent compared to 78.8 for men. Still, India performs better than its neighbours Bangladesh and Pakistan, ranking 127 out of 160 countries on the Gender Inequality Index.