Long way to go

Long way to go

The Human Development Report 2013 which was recently released by the United Nations Development Programme has, like its predecessors , tried to measure the wellbeing of people all over the world with the now well-known yardsticks of health, education and income.

The relative standing of a country  in terms of  the human development index (HDI)  is a measure of its achievements in the social sector.

This is especially important for developing countries which are trying to improve the standards of life of people more comprehensively than by economic advancement. Most rich countries are already in the high rungs of the index.

Much of the striving for a better life now takes place in the poorer countries and this year’s report acknowledges this. Its theme is The Rise of the South : Human Progress in a Diverse World and it focuses in the challenges and achievements in the developing world.

The report notes and analyses the major strides made by the poor countries in improving the wellbeing of  the people. It is not just China, India and Brazil which have moved forward. About 40 countries from Indonesia to South Africa to Mexico have done better than expected and their progress has gained pace in the last one decade.

This has profound implications and consequences for the future. These countries have different systems and environments  but they have common challenges in an interconnected and interdependent world. 

There is the need for new policies which are suited for the realities of the emerging world and the report makes an attempt to identify them. It makes a special case for better representation for developing countries in the global governance systems and tries to look for new sources of financing within the South. The report can serve as a source of inspiration, but it does not gloss over the problems and difficulties which poor countries face and will have to face in future.

As for India, in spite of the compliment it has received, the fact remains that its performance in terms of the index is poor. Its rank is 136 out of 187 countries. India’s HDI rose from 0.345 to 0.554 from 1980 to 2012. During the same period the HDI in South Asia increased from 0.357 to 0.558. In spite of all the claimed progress, India’s performance is less impressive than that of the region. Resources, policies and plans are not enough.  They should be utilised and implemented too.

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