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Forget Happiness Index, Even Human Development Report Ranks India Very Low

The UN ‘Human Development Report 2016′, released on Tuesday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the average human development improved significantly across all regions from 1990 to 2015 but one in three continue to live in very low levels of human development and placed India at 131 rank out of 188 countries in the global index.

The index takes into account the period under both BJP, Congress and again BJP rule at the Centre from 1990 to 2015, in fact one-and-a-half year Modi’s rule as well. So, no political party can pass the buck on the other but retrospect the implications of such a low ranking, which has the potential to unleash both social unrest and political uprising in the future unless addressed immediately.

“Leaving no one behind needs to become the way we operate as a global community. In order to overcome the barriers that hamper both human development and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, inclusiveness must guide policy choices,” said Swedish PM Stefan Löfven.

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said, “The world has come a long way in rolling back extreme poverty, in improving access to education, health and sanitation, and in expanding possibilities for women and girls. But those gains are a prelude to the next, possibly tougher challenge, to ensure the benefits of global progress reach everyone.”

This is a major challenge and cause of concern in developing and developed countries alike as poverty and exclusion are fast replacing the few benefits reaching the majority of people. Over 300 million people – including more than one-third of all children – live in relative poverty, said the report.

The report’s lead author and Director of the Human Development Report Office, Selim Jahan said there is a systemic discrimination against women, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, among others. The report notes that disadvantages disproportionately affect some groups.

The low rank for India shows how our liveralization has failed to uplift the condition of one third of the population and the wealth distribution remained unequal. On health front, the overall life expectancy at birth grew by more than 10 years from the 1990 level, to reach 68.3 years but on women’s empowerment, attacks on women and discrimination of girl child remain the most basic challenges which require more focused and urgent attention.

Since development is a multidimensional achievement, merely creating wealth in the country will not trickle down to a widespread wealth among the poeple. Basic conditions of housing, water, education, health and justice should be focused equaly to gain a better rank in the Human development Index and India is far away from achieving it.

As Selim Jahan said, “In order to advance, we need to examine more closely not just what has been achieved, but also who has been excluded and why.”

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