India has ranked a lowly 131 among the 188 countries surveyed for human development, a new UN report has said, bracketing the third-largest Asian economy alongside its South Asian neighbours like Pakistan, Bhutan and Nepal. India has made no improvement in its ranking over the previous year, despite the Human Development Report for 2015 noting that foreign direct investment favours countries such as China and India. India’s Human Development Index rank in 2014 was also 131. However, 63 per cent Indians were “satisfied” with their standard of living in 2014-15, the latest report found.
The report, released annually by the UN Development Programme, said India’s rank of 131 puts it in the “medium human development” bracket, which also includes nations like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Kenya, Myanmar and Nepal. India’s HDI rank value in 2015 stood at 0.624, which had increased from 0.580 in 2010. Its life expectancy at birth stood at 68.3 years in 2015 and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita USD 5,663, the report said. On the perception of feeling safe 69 per cent answered “yes”, while on freedom of choice, 72 per cent female responders answered they were “satisfied” as compared to 78 per cent for male. India’s score for overall life satisfaction was 4.3 on a scale of 1-10, according to the report.
On perceptions about government, 69 per cent said they had trust in the national government for the 2014-15 period while 74 per cent said they had confidence in the judicial system. It lauded measures like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme taken in India to generate employment. “Creating jobs through a public works programme targeted at poor people can reduce poverty through income generation, build physical infra- structure and protect poor people against shocks. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme in India and the Rural Employment Opportunities for Public Assets Programme in Bangladesh are prime examples.”
The report noted that increasing clean energy investments in India by 1.5 per cent of GDP a year for 20 years will generate a net increase of about 10 million jobs annually in the country, after factoring in job losses from retrenchments in the fossil fuel industries. The report launched in Stockholm yesterday found that although the average human development improved significantly since 1990, progress is uneven, with systemic discrimination against women, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities.
It said while many people have greater access to education, health and sanitation, more focus needs to be paid to who has been excluded and why. “By eliminating deep, persistent, discriminatory social norms and laws, and addressing the unequal access to political participation, which have hindered progress for so many, poverty can be eradicated and a peaceful, just, and sustainable development can be achieved for all,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.
Titled Human Development for Everyone, the report authored by the Director of the Human Development Report Office Selim Jahan, said that one in three people worldwide continue to live at a low level of human development. Women and girls are systematically excluded by economic, political, social and cultural barriers, according to the report measured by the Human Development Index – a ranking of countries based on strides made with a peace-centric model of progress.
“Women tend to be poorer, earn less, and have fewer opportunities in most aspects of life than men,” it said. The report also points to “dangerous practices,” such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage, which continue to hamper the development of women and their inclusion in society. In addition to women and girls, the report points to “patterns of exclusion and lack of empowerment” of people in rural areas, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants and refugees, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.
The report calls for far greater attention to empowering the most marginalised in society, and recognises the importance of giving them greater voice in decision-making processes.