Why India, Despite Its Economic Growth, Fares Poorly On Human Development

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Human development, coined by economist Mahbub ul Haq, refers to a process which demonstrates how we as humans—from what we are to what we were—have evolved over a certain period. It aims at setting new standards as soon as the previous ones are achieved, raising the bar for themselves in terms of the standard of living, thinking, achieving financial means, and any area where there is a scope for improvement.

It focuses on scaling up resources to help humans lead a sustainable life, have opportunities to grow economically, socially and morally. Human development has different meanings and goals for each nation. Roughly speaking, the goals can be divided in two ways: for a developing country and a developed country.

Developing countries like India, struggling to provide the basic needs for a healthy living in equal proportion to its people, aim to fulfill these fundamental aspirations of their people by distributing opportunities judicially, whereas developed countries like Japan, having attained a certain standard of living for their people, look forward to setting higher standards for themselves to arrive at.

The Human Development Index (HDI), the Human Poverty Index (HPI) and the Human Development Index (MPI) are some measures of human development.

India ranks 130 out of 189 countries on the 2018 Human Development Index released by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The country’s index for 2017 was 0.640. The reports suggest between 1990 and 2017, India’s HDI value has gone up from 0.427 to 0.640, marking a commendable increase of nearly 50%. In another report, published by the UN’s latest Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), it was claimed India had lifted 271 million people out of poverty line, from 2005-06 to 2015-16, over the period of ten years.

These statistics clearly show that we have come a long way and made remarkable headway; yet far more needs to be achieved to catch up with highly developed countries like Norway, Switzerland, Australia and Ireland in terms of HDI. The fundamental blocks for human development are equity, sustainability, productivity, empowerment, cooperation and security. To live up to people’s expectations on given areas for development, India, in my opinion, should work on the following key areas:

1. Education

Education has been one of the major concerning areas in India since independence. According to a report, published in “Jansatta”, a Hindi newspaper, there are more or less 1 million out of 6 million posts for teachers lying vacant in government schools. What adds to the misery is that 0.9 million of those lying vacant are at the primary level, which deems to lay the foundation for the future of children. The plight at government schools of the country is visible to all. Unified District Information System of Education (UDISI) in 2016-17 revealed there were 92,275 schools running on a solitary teacher at both elementary and secondary level.

With the quality of education deteriorating at every level in government schools, parents are opting for private schools—most of which charge a hefty amount of money, not affordable to many—for their children. Lakhs of crores have been spent on Sarva Shikha Abhiyan, a movement by the government to spread education, but corruption and ignorance at every level have turned it into an uphill task to transfer benefits to the rightful completely. Around 94k crores have been allotted to the education sector in the 2018–19 budget, about 10% more of the previous budget, but it sums up to only 3.4% of the total budget, down from 3.74% the previous year.

The experts suggest that the education budget should sum at least 5 to 7% of the total for better and accepted standards. The continuous underspending of whatever allotted by successive governments at the centre has been another major concern (17% in 2014-15). How can we—with this education standard—even dream of becoming a global leader? Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement claiming India will provide teachers across the globe seems hilarious considering the scarcity of quality teachers, and must be applied in India first if we really wish to become “Vishwa Guru”.

2. Health Services

A total amount of  ₹64,559 crore has been allocated to the health ministry by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman, making it 2.32% of the total budget. This allocation seems to neglect the crisis of acceptable health services in the country. According to World Health Organization(WHO), there should be 50 beds and 25 doctors for every ten thousand people, while in India, 7 and 9 could be provided, failing miserably to match the accepted standard. A report, launched by the central health ministry, National Health Profile 2015, claimed there was a single hospital for every 61 thousand, and one bed for every 1833 people. The plight at government hospitals has grown so severe that people fear going there due to the negligence of staff. With the population increasing rapidly, the government needs to take major steps to ensure acceptable health services.

3. Unemployment

The statistics ministry disclosed that the unemployment rate has surged up to 6.1%, the highest in the last 45 years. Unemployment gives birth to many threatening elements in the society like increasing crime rate. When unemployed, common men are bound to suffer excessive pressure, anxiety, depression and other mental ailments. Governments should pay heed to the generation of employment at a satisfactory level. Citizens with sufficient financial resources to look after their family and themselves can play a considerable role in the overall growth of the nation—knowingly or unknowingly.

4. Population Explosion

The world is facing an acute crisis of population explosion. According to a report, launched by United Nations in June 2019, the world population is expected to increase by 2 billion, making it 9.7 billion, while India’s population is expected to surpass China’s by 2027. This has become a central impediment to high growth in the country, taking into account the fact that we have failed miserably as a country to distribute equal resources to our people. The gap between the rich and the poor is beyond control. In consideration of the current situation, our failure to stop population growth may lead to unwanted consequences.

The dream of being a successful nation in terms of human satisfaction requires full participation from us. We are required to realize the responsibilities we are entrusted upon to take our nation ahead in every possible aspect. All the government institutions meant for the well-being of people will be bound to function far better—provided we become aware and put aside personal benefits we may receive by not abiding by the law.

This post has originally been published at TheOpinionExpress

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