- Drop in India’s HDI can be attributed to falling life expectancy
- India’s life expectancy dropped from 69.7 years in 2019 to 67.2 yrs in 2021
- Over the last decade, India has lifted 271 million out of poverty
New Delhi: India ranks 132 out of 191 countries and territories in the Human Development Report 2021/2022 released on Thursday (September 8). Human Development – a measure of a nation’s health, education, and average income – has declined for two years in a row – 2020 and 2021, reversing five years of progress. This is in line with the global decline, indicating that human development across the world has stalled for the first time in 32 years. Launched by UNDP, the latest Human Development Report – Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World – notes that ninety per cent of countries have registered a reduction in their Human Development Index (HDI) value in 2020 or 2021, reversing much of the progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. However, India’s international contributions to sustainable development continues to grow.
According to the report, the key reasons behind the decline in Human Development in the last two years are the crises the world faced. This included COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine coupled with social and economic shifts and dangerous planetary changes. Achim Steiner, Administrator, UNDP said, “The world is scrambling to respond to back-to-back crises. We have seen with the cost of living and energy crises that, while it is tempting to focus on quick fixes like subsidizing fossil fuels, immediate relief tactics are delaying the long-term systemic changes we must make.”
Here are the key findings of the Human Development Index with regard to India:
- 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. India ranked 131 among 189 countries in the 2019 human development index.
- 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. In India’s case, the drop in HDI from 0.645 in 2019 to 0.633 in 2021 can be attributed to falling life expectancy – 69.7 to 67.2 years. India’s expected years of schooling stand at 11.9 years, and the mean years of schooling are at 6.7 years, an increase from 6.5 years in 2019. The GNI per capita level is $6,590, a decline from $6,681 in 2019.
- The decline in India’s human development mirrors the global downfall but, there is a piece of good news and that is the reduced impact of inequality on the human index when compared to 2019. Shoko Noda, UNDP Resident Representative in India said, “India is bridging the human development gap between men and women faster than the world. This development has come at a smaller cost to the environment. India’s growth story reflects the country’s investments in inclusive growth, social protection, gender-responsive policies, and push towards renewables to ensure no one is left behind.”
- The official press release stated, “India’s HDI value continues to exceed South Asia’s average human development. India’s HDI value has been steadily catching up to the world average since 1990 – indicating a faster than the global rate of progress in human development. This is a result of policy choices made by the country over time, including investments made in health and education.”
- The report recommends implementing policies focusing on three ‘I’s – investment, insurance and innovation. The report calls for investment in renewable energy and preparedness for pandemics. The insurance includes social protection to prepare our societies for the ups and downs of an uncertain world.
- Shoko Noda, UNDP Resident Representative in India opines that the country is already a frontrunner in these areas. She said, “With its push towards renewable energy, boosting social security for the most vulnerable and driving the world’s largest vaccination drive through Co-WIN, supported by UNDP.”
- Over the last decade, India has lifted a staggering 271 million out of multidimensional poverty. The country is improving access to clean water, sanitation, and affordable clean energy.
- India has also boosted access to social protection for vulnerable sections of society, especially during and after the pandemic, with a 9.8 percent increase in the budgetary allocation to the Social Services sector in 2021-22 over 2020-21.
- A leader of the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure, India is a champion of South-South cooperation and emerged as a major global supplier of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.
- India’s climate leadership is demonstrated by its ambitious targets and commitment to net zero by 2070. The world’s largest democracy is also fast-tracking the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) at the national and sub-national levels to meet the ambitious goals, the press release stated.
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.