‘Inequality pulls back India’

For just four per cent of its GDP, India could provide “a basic and modest set of social security guarantees for all citizens with universal pension, basic health care, child benefits and employment schemes”, the United Nations Development Programme said in its Human Development Report, 2015, on Monday. The annual report looks at the role of work in improving human development.

In addition to national employment strategies, the report calls for a new social contract between governments, society, and the private sector to ensure that all members of society have their needs taken into account in policy formulation, a global deal among governments to guarantee workers’ rights and benefits around the world and a decent work agenda, that will help promote freedom of association, equity, security, and human dignity in work life. The report repeatedly singles out India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme for praise.

Workforce participation rates for women have dropped globally, driven largely by declines in the last decade in India and China, the report finds. Women also consistently earn less than men and are less likely than men to be in leadership positions, the report finds.

Country HDI rank
Norway 1
Brazil 75
China 90
India 130
Bangladesh 142

India ranked 130 of 188 countries on the Human Development Index in 2014, up marginally from 135 in 2013, and its index value had improved slightly over 2013. When inequality is factored in, however, India loses over one-fourth of its HDI value, with education registering the highest inequality in outcomes. There are also substantial gender differences in outcomes; if the women of India were their own country, they would rank 151 out of 188 countries in human development, while India’s men would come in at 120. The average adult man in India gets twice as many years of schooling as the average adult woman.

On the Multidimensional Poverty Index developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, which measures deprivation on six indicators, over half of India’s population is multi-dimensionally poor, while a further 18 per cent are close to this line. However, the data for this index for India dates back to 2005-06. India’s HDI values improved far more slowly between 2010 and 2014 than between 2000 and 2010.

The HDI is a composite index meant to compare the well-being of people across countries and was first introduced by the UNDP in 1990. It is calculated as the geometric mean of three indicators: life expectancy, education and national income. Of the three sub-components, India had a substantially higher income per capita than countries that did better than it on the index, while the average years of schooling that the average Indian adult has received (5.4 years) was particularly low among middle income countries.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 6:00:50 AM |

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