By Mayank Jain:Â
Human Development Index is a common indicator of a region’s overall wellbeing as it is based on critical indicators such as life expectancy, education, and income indices. It is one of the best indicators to judge the performance of region because a single glance at the HDI index reveals the reality.
A politician’s work should go beyond appearing in the assembly and asking questions. An ideal candidate takes care of all round development of the state. A singular focus on rapid industrialization, providing health benefits or worse, taking bribes just doesn’t cut it. Hence, every voter should look at the HDI figures before and after the term of the incumbent to make a decision about their choice, since states with high HDI look much better than those with a lower index.
Since HDI is an index, its highest possible value tends to be one. The regions with HDI around 0.7-0.9 are hence highly developed in terms of quality of living and the population experiences a decent lifestyle. The regions with HDI between 0.4-0.6 however are still in the phase of development and need considerable efforts to pump up and increase qualitative factors like education and health services which in turn gives rise to incomes and standard of living. HDI below 0.4 shows very basic human development with most of the factors such as income, life expectancy and education, suffering. These areas require the most efforts and attention to grow out of their shells.
For those who thought Gujarat model is the one India needs, there is a surprise. Gujarat’s HDI index is nowhere near the High Human Development mark as it is a measly 0.527 while the much criticized national capital is way above on the second spot with 0.750 as per the latest figures published by the Indian Human Development Report 2011, which constitutes data from 2007 and 2008. Gujarat manages in the middle level group at 11th rank while West Bengal is even lower at the 13th rank with a very low HDI.
If we analyze the top 5 states on the table, trends will emerge:
Kerala sits on the top of the table for India with an HDI of almost 0.8 and this signifies a better quality of life for the citizens and a high life expectancy coupled with good literacy rate. The state assembly is currently ruled by the Indian National Congress led United Democratic Front which has clearly done some good work. Similarly, Delhi is the national capital and seat of the central government too. The high human development here is more a necessity than a proud luxury which the central and state governments have worked hard to achieve in the past.
The next three spots in the table are taken by states of Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab which have medium human development. Their HDI lies in the 0.6-0.7 bracket and signifies a decent standard of living for the people. The important point to note here is that the Congress was also ruling the state of Goa during the period of 2007-2012 after which BJP came to power. On the other hand, Congress enjoys absolute majority in Himachal Pradesh as well. Punjab on the other hand is ruled by Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP and the state has soared in terms of income and life expectancy in the last decade. The demographic dividend is very high in the state and it just needs to fix its education front and it might zoom past a lot of states very soon.
Below are the maps which make the picture much clearer. First map details the party of the Chief Minister of the state and the second one will tell you the HDI rank of all the states. Read the two together and you will have a much better understanding of the performance of states and their so called level of development.
Key: Cyan- Indian National Congress, Orange: Bhartiya Janata Party, Dark Blue: Other Parties, White: President’s Rule
Key: Darker green signifies higher HDI while darker shades of red signify less HDI. Shades of yellow pertain to medium HDI and grey implies lack of information.
Though, attributing the development or non-development of a state to a certain party is naÃ¯ve at best because the human development index takes into account years and years of activity in the region. Further, coalition politics make it almost impossible for a party to act on its own in the modern times. HDI analysis of the states is not an end to your research for the perfect party but it is nevertheless an important indicator that can’t be overlooked.