After obtaining freedom 75 years ago, India battled with poverty, hunger, poor healthcare, and lack of basic facilities for its citizens. Today, when we compare States and Union Territories on various socioeconomic and development indicators, we find that they have all progressed over time, achieving new milestones in their path towards development. But the degree of improvement varies across States and UTs. There are stark differences in the performances of the northern, southern, central, eastern, western and northeastern regions of India. In general, southern and western States have fared better than other regions. Eastern States, such as Bihar, Odisha, and Jharkhand, have performed poorly across indicators. Except in agriculture, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (central States) have lagged behind the others. While most northern States have outpaced many other regions in terms of agriculture yield per hectare, availability of drinking water with pipes/pumps, and protected wells and toilet facilities, they have lagged behind on health indicators such as infant mortality rate and share of underweight children. Among the northern States, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh rank better across indicators, while Uttar Pradesh has fallen behind. Many northeastern States have performed well in women’s participation in the labour force and access to toilet facilities, though their progress has not been uniform across other indicators.
All the States and Union Territories in the country were considered in the analysis.
Click on the links at the end of each indicator to see the actual data plotted on a chart.
1) HDI: Human Development Index
HDI measures three key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth; knowledge, as measured by mean years of schooling and expected years of schooling; and a decent standard of living. It is measured on a scale of 0-1, with 1 showing the highest HDI possible. While only Kerala and Goa had crossed 0.55 in 1990, all the States/UTs had crossed this mark by 2019. Only Bihar and Uttar Pradesh had an HDI of less than 0.6 in 2019 and remained at the bottom during both periods. Kerala and Goa consistently remained at the top of the list.
2) SDP: State Domestic Product
While the State Domestic Product (constant prices) of all the States was below the ₹20,000 mark in 1993-94, it crossed ₹30,000 by 2019-20. In fact, by this time, all the States in the south, west (except Rajasthan) and north (except Uttar Pradesh) had crossed the ₹1 lakh mark. The eastern and central States stayed behind the mark, with Bihar at the bottom. SDP is the aggregate of the economic value of all goods and services produced within a State, counted without duplication during a year.
3) Poverty rate
During the mid-1990s, the poverty rate was above 30% in more than half of the States/UTs in India. With more than 50% of its population below the poverty line, Bihar had the highest share of poor people in 1993-94. By 2011-12, less than 10 States had a poverty rate above 30%. Chhattisgarh (39.9%) had replaced Bihar as the worst performing State. While Punjab (11.8%) had the lowest share of people living in extreme poverty in 1993-94, Goa had the lowest share (5.1%) by 2011-12
4) Life expectancy at birth
With an average life expectancy of 72.9 and 75.2 during the early 1990s and 2013-17, respectively, Kerala remained the State with the highest life expectancy at birth. Madhya Pradesh had the lowest life expectancy (54.7) in the 1991-95 period, whereas Uttar Pradesh took its place with a life expectancy of 65 in the 2013-17 period. Life expectancy is the average number of years an individual is likely to live if exposed to the same mortality conditions until death.
5) IMR: Infant mortality rate
In 2004, Kerala had the lowest infant mortality rate (IMR) of 12. By 2018, with an IMR of 4, Nagaland had surpassed it. Madhya Pradesh had an IMR of 79 and 48 in 2004 and 2018, respectively. The State remained at the bottom of the list during both periods. The northeastern States fared well in this indicator during both periods. IMR is the number of infants dying before their first birthday per 1,000 live births.
6) Women in the labour force: Rural
The labour force participation rate of rural women measures the number of women actively part of the labour force per 1,000 women in the rural region. The share of rural women who participated in the labour force declined across all the States between 1993-94 and 2011-12. In 1993-94 more than half the women in Himachal Pradesh and Andhra were part of the rural workforce. But by 2011-12, while Himachal Pradesh still had a workforce of which more than half were women, the numbers in Andhra Pradesh declined to 448.
7) Yield per hectare
While the estimated yield per hectare (the amount of plant crop harvested per unit area for a given time) improved majorly across most States between 1990-91 and 2019-20, Punjab and Haryana led the nation by a distance during both periods. Western and northeastern States lagged behind others during both periods.
8) Toilet facilities
In a majority of States, only less than 60% of households had any access to toilet facilities in the early 1990s. The northeastern States, along with Kerala, had more than 70% of households with access to toilet facilities in 1992-93. While the share of households with toilet facilities in the northern States was poor during this period, such States caught up with the others by 2019-21. Mizoram had the highest share of households with any toilet facility during both periods. By 2019-21, only Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar had not crossed the 70% mark.
9) Unclean fuel
The share of households cooking with solid fuel like wood was very high during the early 1990s. The southern States and the northeastern States lagged behind others during this period. But by 2019-21, while southern States outpaced other regions, northeastern States were left behind. In most eastern and Central States, more than 40% of households continued using solid fuel for cooking
Here are some other charts comparing other parameters among select countries:
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