Human Development in India | Human Development Index in India

For India, development is a mixed bag of opportunities as well as neglect and deprivations. There are a few areas like the metropolitan centres and other developed enclaves that have all the modern facilities available to a small section of its population. At the other extreme of it, there are large rural areas and the slums in the urban areas that do not have basic amenities like potable water, education and health infrastructure available to majority of this population. It is a well established fact that majority of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, landless agricultural labourers, poor farmers and slums dwellers, etc. are the most marginalised lot. A large segment of female population is the worst sufferers among all. It is also equally true that the relative as well as absolute conditions of the majority of these marginalised sections have worsened with the development happening over the years.Consequently, vast majority of people are compelled to live under abject poverty and subhuman conditions.

Definition for Human development
Human development is a process of enlarging the range of people’s choices, increasing their opportunities for education, health care, income and empowerment and covering the full range of human choices from a sound physical environment to economic, social and political freedom. People’s choices may involve a host of other issues, but, living a long and healthy life, to be educated and have access to resources needed for a decent standard of living including political freedom, guaranteed human rights and personal self-respect, etc. are considered some of the non-negotiable aspects of the human development.

Human Development index of  India - 2011
India with a population of over 1.2 billion is ranked 134 among 187 countries of the world in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2011. Sri Lanka has been ranked 97, China 101 and the Maldives 109. Lack of sensitivity to the historical factors like colonisation, imperialism and neo-imperialism, socio-cultural factors like human rights violation, social discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender and caste, social problems like crimes, terrorism, and war and political factors like nature of the state, forms of the government (democracy or dictatorship) level of empowerment are some factors that are very crucial in determining the nature of human development. These aspects have special significance in case of India and many other developing countries.

Human Development Index in India
In the backdrop of the above-mentioned important indicators the Planning Commission calculated the human development index by taking states and union territories as the unit of analysis. Subsequently, each state government also started preparing the state level Human Development Reports, using districts as the units of analysis. India Human Development Report, 2011, prepared by 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 position respectively. 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.

Regional distortions and social disparities which developed during the colonial period continue to play an important role in the Indian economy, polity and society. The Government of India has made concerted efforts to institutionalise the balanced development with its main focus on social distributive justice through planned development. It has made significant achievements in most of the fields but, these are still below the desired level.

Poverty is a state of deprivation. In absolute terms it reflects the inability of an individual to satisfy certain basic needs for a sustained, healthy and  reasonably productive living.

Indicators of a Healthy Life
Life free from illness and ailment and living a reasonably long life span are indicative of a healthy life. Availability of pre and post natal health care facilities in order to reduce infant mortality and post delivery deaths among mothers, old age health care, adequate nutrition and safety of individual are some important measures of a healthy and reasonably long life. India has done reasonably well in some of the health indicators like decline in death rate from 25.1 per thousand in 1951 to 7.48 per thousand in 2011 and infant mortality from 148 per thousand to 47.5 during the same period. Similarly, it also succeeded in increasing life expectancy at birth from 37.1 years to 65.77 years for males and 36.2 to 67.95 years for females from 1951 to 2011. Though, these are great achievements, a lot needs to be done. Similarly, it has also done reasonably well in bringing down birth rate from 40.8 to 20.9 during the same years, but it still is much higher than many developed countries.

As per the latest Census in the year 2011, the total female sex ratio in India is 940 per 1000 males and the female child sex ratio is 944 girl children per every 1000 boy children of the same age group. The overall female sex ratio has increased by 0.75 % in the Census 2011 as compared to the previous Census of 2001. Kerala ranks highest with a female sex ratio of 1084.

Freedom from hunger, poverty, servitude, bondage, ignorance, illiteracy and any other forms of domination is the key to human development. Freedom in real sense of the term is possible only with the empowerment and participation of the people in the exercise of their capabilities and choices in the society.

Indian culture and civilisation have been very sensitive to the issues of population, resource and development for a long time. It would not be incorrect to say that the ancient scriptures were essentially concerned about the balance and harmony among the elements of nature. Mahatma Gandhi in the recent times advocated the reinforcement of the harmony and balance between the two. He was quite apprehensive about the on-going development particularly the way industrialisation has institutionalised the loss of morality, spirituality, self-reliance, non-violence and mutual cooperation and environment. In his opinion, austerity for individual, trusteeship of social wealth and non-violence are the key to attain higher goals in the life of an individual as well as that of a nation. His views were also re-echoed in the Club of Rome Report “Limits to Growth” (1972), Schumacher’s book “Small is Beautiful” (1974), Brundtland Commission’s Report “Our Common Future” (1987) and finally in the “Agenda-21 Report of the Rio Conference” (1993).

Based on Unit I, Chapter 3,Human Development NCERT Geography 12