India's human development index (HDI), a measure of health, education and standard of living, inched up by less than half a per cent between 2012 and 2013, the new Human Development Report 2014 says. While this slow growth is similar to most other countries, it is much below India's growth in the past. Between 1980 and 2013, India's HDI increased by nearly 59%, a yearly growth of about 1.4%. But since 2010, India's growth in human development measures has slowed down considerably.
India's life expectancy has increased from 58.5 years in 1990 to 66.4 years in 2013. While this is a significant increase, both Pakistan and Bangladesh have slightly better life expectancy. Among the BRICS countries, only South Africa has a lower expectancy at 56.9 years, primarily due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. China's life expectancy is 75.3 years. The average for the whole world is 70.8 years, while among the developed countries with very high human development levels, it is 80.2 years.
On educational indicators, India performs slightly better with 11.7 expected years of schooling, the same as the average for medium human development countries, of which India is a part. This is a measure of how many years of schooling a child is expected to receive if prevailing enrollment patterns continue. The world average is 12.2 years, while the developed countries average 16.3 years. Among the BRICS countries, India's average is the least. Currently, Indians of 25 years or more have received just 4.4 years of schooling on average, compared to a global average of 7.7 years.
It is on the income measure that India fails dramatically. The annual income per person (measured in purchasing power parity terms) for India is $5,150, slightly more than our neighbors, but lowest among the BRICS countries, and less than half the global average of $13,723. The developed countries' average is way ahead at $40,046.
To take into account inequality within a country, HDI 2014 also gives an 'inequality adjusted HDI' (IHDI) for 145 countries for which data was available. India lost about 29% in human development because of inequality. This loss was the most, about 42%, in education. Brazil too has a high loss of 26% due to inequality while Russia loses about 12%. China and South Africa did not have the requisite data for this. The world average for inequality loss is 23%.
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Another measure is the multi-dimensional poverty index (MPI), which measures deprivations of families in education, health and standard of living using ten indicators. This gives a better picture of poverty than simply measuring incomes. According to this measure, over 55% of India's population is multi-dimensionally poor, compared to just 3% in Brazil, 6% in China and about 10% in South Africa. HDR 2014, however, has used 2005-06 data for India, which is quite outdated.
Another measure is the gender inequality index (GII), which reflects inequalities in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity. India is ranked 127 out of 152 countries in this, the same as Pakistan and lower than Bangladesh (115). Among the BRICS countries, India is the lowest. China is ranked best at 37, due to its very good women's health indicators and high female work participation (64%).
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