HDI Overview

HDI Overview

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As per the Human Development Report 2014 entitled: Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, which has been prepared by UNDP,



Indian scenario

• During 2013 India ranked 135th (HDI value 0.586) among 187 countries in terms of HDI, whereas Pakistan ranked 146th (HDI value 0.537), China ranked 91st (HDI value 0.719), Sri Lanka ranked 73rd (HDI value 0.750) and Bangladesh ranked 142nd (HDI value 0.558). India fared worse than the average global value of 0.702.

• Despite India’s progress, its HDI of 0.586 is below the average of 0.614 for countries in the medium human development group, and of 0.588 for countries in South Asia.


• The cut-off points are HDI of less than 0.550 for low human development, 0.550–0.699 for medium human development, 0.700–0.799 for high human development and 0.800 or greater for very high human development. Therefore, India with HDI 0.586 is now included among medium human development group.

• The value of India's Gender Inequality Index in 2013 was 0.563 (Rank: 127) whereas in 2012 it was 0.610 (Rank: 132).

• The value of India's Gender Development Index (i.e. ratio of female to male HDI) in 2013 was 0.828 (Rank: 132).

• Nearly 55.3 percent of India's population live in multidimensional poverty i.e. 63.2 crore people are affected by multidimensional poverty. Approximately, 27.8 percent of the population lives in severe poverty.

• Persistent vulnerability is rooted in historic exclusions — women in patriarchal societies, Black people in South Africa and the United States, and Dalits in India encounter discrimination and exclusion due to longstanding cultural practices and social norms.

• In India paying for health care has become a major source of impoverishment for the poor and even the middle class. Ill health of the main wage earner can push households into poverty and keep them there (Narayan and Petesch 2007). Recent data suggest that more than 40 percent of hospital patients either borrow money or sell assets and that close to 35 percent fall into poverty because of having to pay for their care (Raman and Björkman 2000).

• Equally, long-standing unequal treatment and denials of rights feed into deep discrimination, and at times groups or communities seek to redress long-established inequities through violent means. In India estimates range from a tenth to a third of districts having insurrection movements or armed struggles in one form or the other by such dissident groups as the Naxalites and other Maoist groups. Horizontal inequality and unmet basic rights are often the causes of group violence.

• The amendments to the Criminal Law in India following recent rape cases do not criminalize marital rape, highlighting both the scope and limits of law as an agent of social change. In India actual or threatened violence by husbands prevents many women from participating in meetings of self-help groups.

• India’s failure to transition into industry has to be remedied—jobs in business process outsourcing are a boon for the balance of payments but hardly for mass employment.

• Improving accountability through transparency measures such as India’s Right to Information Act can expose corruption and graft and boost efficiency.

• Smallholder farmers in South Asia are particularly vulnerable to climate change—India alone has 93 million small farms.

Global scenario

• Norway (Rank: 1; HDI: 0.944), Australia (Rank: 2; HDI: 0.933), Switzerland (Rank: 3; HDI: 0.917), Netherlands (Rank: 4; HDI: 0.915) and United States (Rank: 5; HDI: 0.914) remain in the lead in terms of Human Development Index for another year, while Sierra Leone (Rank: 183; HDI: 0.374), Chad (Rank: 184; HDI: 0.372), Central African Republic (Rank: 185; HDI: 0.341), Democratic Republic of the Congo (Rank: 186; HDI: 0.338) and Niger (Rank: 187; HDI: 0.337) continue to rank bottom of the list.

• The Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI), calculated for 145 countries, shows that the lowest levels of inequality are to be found in Norway, Finland, and Czech Republic.

• The new Gender Development Index (GDI), which for the first time measures the gender gap in human development achievements for 148 countries, reveals that in 16 of them (Argentina, Barbados, Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Poland, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay), female HDI values are equal or higher than those for males.

• According to income-based measures of poverty, 1.2 billion people live with $1.25 or less a day. However, the latest estimates of the UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index reveal that almost 1.5 billion people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards. And although poverty is declining overall, almost 800 million people are at risk of falling back into poverty if setbacks occur.

• Across Asia and the Pacific, over a billion people live just above the extreme poverty line, on more than US$1.25 but less than US$2.50 a day. The report asserts that those who face multiple deprivations are especially at risk of falling back into poverty if a disaster or crisis should occur.

• Regarding South Asia, the Human Development Report 2014 says that there is no country in the very high human development group from the region. The average HDI value for the region, at 0.588, is below the world average of 0.702.

• The HDR 2014 argues that countries in Asia and the Pacific do not have to wait to become rich in order to provide adequate social protection or basic social services. It shows that Nordic countries as well as countries such as Republic of Korea and Costa Rica were able to provide universal basic social services when their per capita GDP was lower than that of India or Pakistan today. 

• The HDR 2014 introduces the idea of life cycle vulnerabilities, which arise from sensitive points in life where shocks can have greater impact. It stresses the importance of the first 1,000 days of life, and of the transitions from school to work, and from work to retirement.

• The HDR explores structural vulnerabilities – those that have persisted and compounded over time as a result of discrimination and institutional failings, hurting groups such as the poor, women, migrants, people living with disabilities, indigenous groups and older people. For instance, 80 percent of the world’s elderly lack social protection, with large numbers of older people also poor and disabled.

• The Report calls for governments to recommit to the objective of full employment, a mainstay of macroeconomic policies of the 1950s and 1960s that was overtaken by competing policy goals following the oil shocks of the 1970s.

• The Report highlights that a lack of decent, well paid jobs – especially for youth – is a major challenge in Asia and the Pacific. In many countries of the region, youth unemployment is relatively high: 23 percent in Iran, 22 percent in Indonesia, 17 percent in Sri Lanka, 16 percent in Philippines and Samoa and 14 percent in Timor-Leste. 

• The HDR 2014 argues that full employment yields social dividends that surpass private benefits, such as fostering social stability and cohesion.

• The Report advocates for the universal provision of basic social services to enhance resilience, refuting the notion that only wealthy countries can afford to do this.

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