India 134th in global human development report

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NEW DELHI: The latest annual Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme shows that India’s ranking has little changed from last year: it is the same lethargic, but steady progress – a 1.5 per cent annual rise in the human development index (HDI).

India’s ranking went from 127 to 134 in the world, but there were 18 additional countries in the survey this year.

Norway, Australia and the Netherlands top the HDI rankings, with 0.943 being the highest value achieved.

Burundi, Niger and Congo are at the bottom, with 0.286 being the lowest HDI value achieved.

India’s is 0.547 – up from last year’s 0.542. It shows itself favourably with respect to income growth and improved educational enrolment over the past three to four years.

However, India stands bottom in South Asia and the Asia-Pacific, with the exception of Afghanistan, on the gender inequality index — encompassing factors such as early pregnancies, total fertility rate and representation of women in the national legislature, among others.

The 2011 report forecasts a grim slide in development four decades from now if it were divorced from environmental sustainability and equity.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who released the report on Wednesday, called for massive public funding in areas such as sanitation, health and education. India, he noted, was “too squeamish’’ about addressing birth control. “Even the media has started calling it demographic dividend, rather than a demographic disaster,’’ he added.

UNDP expert Seetha Prabhu said that the poor quality of education in government schools and poor quality of public health care were responsible for the unequal access to health and education in India.

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