India climbed one spot up in the human development index (HDI) to 130 from last year's 131, according to the latest rankings of 189 countries released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Friday.
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.
Among the other South-Asian countries, Sri Lanka ranked 76 with the HDI value of 0.77 and Maldives stood at 101 with the HDI value of 0.717.
The HDI is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
India’s HDI value for 2017 is 0.640, which put the country in the medium human development category. According UNDP, between 1990 and 2017, India’s HDI value increased from 0.427 to 0.640, an increase of nearly 50 per cent.
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, the UNDP said.
Between 1990 and 2017, India’s life expectancy at birth increased by nearly 11 years.
Also, the country’s Gross National Income per capita increased 266.6 per cent between 1990 and 2017.
As much as 26.8 per cent of India’s HDI value is lost on account of inequalities- a greater loss than for most of its South Asian neighbours as 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 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,” the UNDP report said.
In India, 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,” the report said.
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 160 countries on the Gender Inequality Index,” the UNDP said.
Norway with HDI value 0.953, Switzerland (0.944), Australia (0.939), Ireland (0.938) and Germany (0.936) led the ranking, while Niger (0.354), the Central African Republic (0.367), South Sudan (0.388), Chad (0.404) and Burundi (0.417) have the lowest scores in the HDI’s measurement of national achievements in health, education and income.
(With inputs from agencies)