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Inequality continues to be high in India

Last updated: 04 November, 2010
New Delhi, Nov 4, DHNS: 22:52 IST

India continues to fare badly in the Human Development Index (HDI) with the country ranking 119 among 169 countries for the year 2010 as compiled by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Normally published annually since 1990, the HDI goes beyond a nation’s Gross Domestic Product to measure the general well-being of its people under a host of parameters, such as poverty levels, literacy and gender-related issues.

The ranking was calculated by the UNDP in its Human Development Report (HDR) 2010.
However, India’s ranking shows some improvement this time as it stood at 134 in 2009. The marginal improvement in ranking comes despite the fact that the UNDP has changed the methodology of measuring human development by incorporating dimensions of inequality and deprivation in its ambit.

The UNDP for the first time floated three indexes to measure inequality and deprivation. These are inequality adjusted HDI, the gender inequality index and multi-dimensional poverty index. Under the new methodology, India has graduated to the category of “Medium Human Development Countries”.

However, neighbouring Sri Lanka has fared well than India by moving to a higher slot of 91. Sri Lanka’s ranking has gone up due to improved social indicators of literacy and life expectancy. Other neighbours such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal stood at 125, 129 and 138 respectively.

Significantly, the report, while analysing India’s progress in the HDI scale, has noted that though Indian economy has made impressive improvement, inequality remains high.
“India has been identified as one of the top ten countries in terms of growth in income. However, the situation with respect to inequality and multi-dimensional poverty is not commensurate with country’s growth performance,” it says.

“The Indian government recognises that while economic growth has been impressive, the benefits are not distributed equally. To correct this, the government has to focus more on human development,” UNDP Resident Representative Patrice Coerur-Bizot said while releasing the report.

Planning Commission Member Syeda Hameed and Chief Economic Adviser Kaushik Basu, who were present during the function, admitted that the country had still a long way to go to improve its HDI performance.

Showing disparity in India’s various segments of human development in the divergent socio-economic group, the HDR report shows that India lost 30 per cent overall on the new inequality-adjusted HDI due to inequalities in health, education and income.

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