Saturday, October 22, 2011


The Human Development Index (HDI) in the country rose by 21 per cent, says a report while cautioning that health, nutrition and sanitation remained key challenges for India.
India Human Development Report, 2011, prepared by the government's Institute of Applied Manpower Research, placed Kerala on top of the index for achieving highest literacy rate, quality health services and consumption expenditure of people. Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Goa were placed at second, third and fourth positions respectively. 
The report was released on October 21 by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia in the presence of Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh. It said, as on today, two-thirds of the households in the country reside in pucca (cemented) houses and three-fourth of families have access to electricity for domestic use. According to the report, India's HDI has registered an impressive gains in the last decade as the index increased by 21 per cent to 0.467 in 2007-08, from 0.387 in 1999-2000.

However, it noted that Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Assam are those states which continue to lag behind in HDI and remain below the national average of 0.467. At the same time, the quantum of improvement in HDI in some of the poor states was higher than the national average, the report said, citing the cases of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Assam. The overall improvement in the index was largely attributed to the 28.5 per cent increase in education index across the country.

It ranges from 0.92 for Kerala to 0.41 in the case of Bihar. The improvement in the education index was the "greatest" in states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to name a few, the report said. The analysis also indicates that improvement in the health index, as compared to education, has been lower. It ranges from 0.82 in Kerala to 0.41 in Assam. It observed that despite the Right to Education Act, school education faces challenges of quality and employability. The report also said that despite improvements, health, nutrition and sanitation challenges are most serious.

Stating that open defecation was posing a serious threat to health and nutritional status, the report said even though half of the population had access to sanitation in 2008-09, there was still wide inter-state variation. It said 75% households in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Uttarakhand do not have toilet facilities. The report revealed even in Nirmal Gram Puraskar winning villages, toilets are often being used for storing, bathing and washing purposes. On the issue of right to food and nutrition, the Human Index Report revealed that calorie consumption has been declining and the intake of calories by poor are way below the recommended norm.

The report said Gujarat fares the worst in terms of overall hunger and nutrition among the industrial high per capita income states. The report also noted that "India is the worst performer in terms of low birth weight, underweight and wasting among children in BRIC and SAARC countries”. Reacting to the findings, Ramesh said increased focus should be laid on health and nutrition during the 12th Plan period even as he lauded the growth in the education sector. "On nutrition, I am puzzled as to why high rate of malnutrition continue to persist even in pockets of high economic growth," he said referring to findings of Gujarat. The minister said total expenditure on sanitation has been only one-tenth of the resources allocated for the water sector.

Ramesh attributed the positive growth in education to Central "interventions" like Sarva Sikshya Abhiyan and RTE. The report said between 2002-03 and 2008-09, there has been an improvement in condition of people's housing with 66% population residing in pucca housing. In rural areas, share of household in pucca houses has increased from 36% to 55%. It said a greater proportion of Muslims than the SCs and STs live in pucca houses due to their urban concentration. The report revealed that three-fourths of all households had access to electricity, with 75% households having access to electricity for domestic use. Insofar as tele-density was concerned, the report said it increased at an "impressive pace" over time from 22% in 2008 to 66% till December 2010, largely led by growth in urban tele-density.

It said good governance and social mobilisation by state governments was reflected by the fact that SCs and OBCs in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala were better off than even the upper castes in Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh in terms of various health outcome indicators. The report also highlighted the fact that 60% of the poor were concentrated in states like Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It said though incidence of poverty declined over the years across states, the above said states performed much worse than others in terms of poverty reduction. Further, asset ownership both in urban and rural areas continued to be highly unequal and concentrated among top five per cent of households. 

The report, by the Institute of Applied Manpower Research, an autonomous body under the Planning Commission, suggests a lowering of poverty rates, provided poverty is seen through national accounts or gross domestic product, rather than the consumption data, which is normally used to calculate poverty.

The report, released by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Friday, said India recorded 21 per cent growth in the human development indicators (HDI) of health, education and income. HDI is a composite index, comprising three indicators—consumption expenditure (a proxy for income), education and health. The report estimates HDI at the beginning of the decade and 2007-08, and the top five ranks during both the years are accounted for by Kerala, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Punjab. States that fared better on health and education were also the states with higher HDI, and thus, higher per capita income.

At the other end of the spectrum were northern and eastern states—Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam, which have an HDI below the national average. HDI ranged from 0.79 in Kerala to 0.39 in Chhattisgarh.
The report compares HDI growth to the global human development report rankings. It says over the eight-year period, HDI rose 21 per cent, compared with a rise of 18 per cent in India's HDI over 2000-2010, as reported by global HDR-2010. In comparison, China recorded a rise of only 17 per cent, the report said.

According to the report, the leap in development was mainly on account of the 28 per cent jump in education index alone, compared to a decade ago, when the first such report was released. It ranged from 0.92 in Kerala to 0.41 in Bihar. The rise has been the highest in educationally-backward states.
The improvement in the health index stands at a mere 13 per cent between 2000 and 2008. The states with the most serious health concerns—Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Assam—showed the most improvement.

The report also cites a fall in the overall fertility rate as the greatest achievement in health, while open defecation continued to be the biggest threat. Malnutrition, hunger and anaemia rates, besides infant mortality, remain grim, as reported in the National Family Health Survey.
The report also indicated economic prosperity was no guarantee of better social indicators. Gujarat, with a high per capita income, ranks below some poor states in terms of hunger, the report said. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh also fare poorly in terms of hunger, Punjab fared the best. Gujarat had a hunger index of 24.70 per cent, just above Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.

"This clearly suggests economic prosperity alone cannot reduce hunger. Hence, there is a need for specific target-oriented policies to improve the hunger and malnutrition situation," the report said.
In Gujarat, the percentage of severely underweight children was also higher than the national average. Only six other states, including Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, which have low per capita income than Gujarat, saw the percentage of severely underweight children more than that of Gujarat, the report showed.

No comments:

Post a Comment