The World Bank’s ranking of India in its Human Capital Index (HCI), which was released on Thursday, has drawn sharp criticism from the Narendra Modi-led government, which has decided to ignore the findings. HCI has given a score of 0.44 to India, ranking it at the 115th position out of the total 157 countries in the index. In a statement, the finance ministry said that the score given to India does not reflect the key initiatives that are being taken by the ruling government for developing human capital in the country.
Ayushaman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission, Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana were some of the schemes that the government has cited to justify its point, saying these measures have touched millions of lives across the country and are transforming human capital at a rapid pace.
“The Government of India has decided to ignore the HCI and will continue to undertake its path-breaking programme for human capital development aiming to rapidly transform quality and ease of life for all children,” it said in the statement. Neighbouring nations like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have performed really well when compared with India with coming at 102nd, 106th and 74th, respectively.
The index took into account five indicators: expected years of schooling of a child, survival probability to age five, the proportion of children who are not stunted, quality of learning, and adult survival rate. As per the index, Indian children complete 10.2 years of schooling by the age they turn 18 years old, and this reduces to 5.8 years when adjusted for quality of learning. It also added that 38% of children in the country experience stunted growth.
HCI has given a score of 0.44 of the total 1.0, which means that children born in the country will be 44% as productive when they grow up as they could be if they get a complete education and enjoy full health. This score is also lower than the average for its income-level nations. In India, HCI for females is however marginally better than that for males, as girls did slightly better at than boys, who scored 0.43, by scoring at 0.45.
The Indian government said that as far as the education parameter is concerned, quantity is assessed using enrolment rates reported by UNESCO. However, quality for this is determined using harmonised test scores from major international student achievement testing programs.
“Due to the lack of availability of an authoritative and uniform test score, about nine different test scores and systems using varying methodology have been claimed to have been harmonized by the World Bank,” the finance ministry said, adding that the nine different test scores and systems that the World Bank has taken into account do not cover more than 100 nations, with some having limited regional coverage. Therefore, this methodology for education parameter is complex and non-uniform, it added.
Globally, 56% of the children born today will grow up to be half as productive as they could be, while 90% will grow up to be 75% as productive as they could be, as per the HCI index.