New Delhi: India ranks 132 out of 191 countries and territories in the Human Development Report 2021/2022 released on Thursday (September 8). India’s HDI value of 0.633, places the country in the medium human development category, lower than its value of 0.645 in the 2020 report, as per the latest Human Development Report titled, Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World. India ranked 131 among 189 countries in 2020 Human Development Index (HDI).
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Among India’s neighbouring countries, Sri Lanka (73), China (79), Bangladesh (129) and Bhutan (127) have fared better then India. Only Pakistan (161), Myanmar (149) and Nepal (143) were worse off.
To understand India’s position on Human Development Index 2021/2022, NDTV exclusively spoke to Shoko Noda, UNDP Resident Representative in India. Talking about India’s declining rank, Ms Noda said,
It’s not always accurate to compare ranks. For example, the number of countries has changed from 189 to 191. Therefore, it is not really about ranking but it is very important to look at human development values themselves and their trends. These values will tell much more accurate stories.
HDI measures progress on three key dimensions of human development – a long and healthy life, access to education, and a decent standard of living. HDI is calculated using four indicators – life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling, and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. Talking about India’s status on each of the four parameters, Ms Noda said,
India has declined on three parameters and improved on one. Firstly, in health, life expectancy has fallen down from 69.7 to 67.2 years. For the educational side, there are two indicators, there is a drop in expected years of schooling, but mean years of schooling have seen an increase. This drop is because of the school closure during the pandemic. Lastly, the standard of living; this is where the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita comes in and for India, it has fallen from $6,681 to $6,590.
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Ms Noda said that India is not the only country facing a downward trend. She added,
90 per cent of the countries around the world are facing this decline because of the multiple areas of crises such as a pandemic, climate change and the war. Definitely, the pandemic is one of the reasons and one of the crises that we are facing right now but look at climate change and what is happening in Pakistan where one-third of the population is displaced. There is a war between Russia and Ukraine. The pace of crisis is unprecedented and we, as humans, are not able to solve one crisis after another because it is happening much more frequently.
When asked about the areas where India needs to work to improve human development, Ms Noda stressed on gender. Lauding the Indian government for bridging the gap between the male and the female, Ms Noda said,
Firstly, the gap is being narrowed down and secondly, that narrowing down is faster than the rest of the world. That is good news. But challenges of course remain, and this country has one of the lowest female labour force participation in the world. The gender-responsive policies and problems are already in place but I think more needs to be done beyond women’s empowerment. Social protection to reduce inequality is also very important for the expansion and strengthening and stronger implementation of the existing social protection schemes is critical to include not only women but also other vulnerable groups. Thirdly, we have to have healthy populations to improve other human development indicators such as education and income. More investment in public health is critical.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world why investment in public health is pivotal.
While signing off, Ms Noda also talked about India’s growth and said that the country has lifted 270 million people from multi-dimensional poverty between 2005 and 2016. However, this upward trend has also been impacted, she said.
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NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.