Gender equality in India among worst in world: UN

NEW DELHI (TIP): When India’s Human Development Index is adjusted for gender inequality, it becomes south Asia’s worst performing country after Afghanistan, new numbers in the UNDP’s Human Development Report 2013 show. Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, which are poorer than India and have lower HDIs, all do comparatively better than India when it comes to gender equality. The new UNDP report, released on March 14, ranks India 136th out of 186 countries, five ranks below postwar Iraq, on the HDI.

The HDI is a composite indicator composed of three equally weighted measures for education, health and income. On the newly constituted Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which identifies multiple deprivations in the same households in education, health and standard of living, only 29 countries do worse than India (though data-sets are from varying periods of time across nations). The MPI puts India’s poverty headcount ratio at 54%, higher than Bangladesh and Nepal.

This was even as India did extremely well economically. India and China doubled output per capita in less than 20 years, at a scale the UNDP has said was “unprecedented in speed and scale”. “Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast,” the UNDP said; it took Britain 150 years to do the same after the Industrial Revolution and the United States, which industrialized later, took 50 years. On the whole, developing countries have been steadily improving their human development records, some faster than others.

No country has done worse in 2012 than in 2000, while the same was not true for the preceding decade. India, Bangladesh and China are among 40 countries that have done better on the HDI than was predicted for them in 1990. By 2030, more than 80% of the world’s middle class is projected to be in the global South; within Asia, India and China will make up 75% of the middle class. The HDR identifies three drivers of human development transformation in the countries of the global South – proactive developmental states, tapping of global markets and determined social policy innovation.

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