The United Nations Development Programme has ranked India 130 among 189 nations on the 2017 Human Development Index, one spot above its position the previous year.India’s score of 0.640 secured it a spot in the medium human development category.
The index monitors nations’ long-term progress and considers factors such as their citizens’ ability to lead a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Ireland and Germany are the top five nations on the index while Niger, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Chad and Burundi scored the lowest in health, education and income. India ranked slightly better than Pakistan and Bangladesh, which scored 150 and 136.
The programme’s India chief, Francine Pickup, told PTI that inequality and climate change were holding the country back. “For a country that has made such remarkable progress, pockets of deprivation continue to prevent millions of people from fulfilling their true potential,” Pickup said. “Women especially continue to have a lower human development index than men, primarily because of fewer opportunities in education and at work.”
The United Nations official also expressed concerns about the deteriorating air quality in Indian cities and its impact on health, and the number of people “living on degraded land”.
“The solution lies in innovation,” Pickup said. “The government has shown great leadership in creating an ecosystem that fosters creative thinking and innovation, through initiatives such as the Atal Innovation Mission, Startup India and more.”
The success of the Sustainable Development Goals globally depends on India, she said. “India’s national development schemes like ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, ‘Swachh Bharat’, Make in India and initiatives aimed at universalising school education and healthcare, will be crucial in ensuring that the upward trend in human development accelerates.”