India slips two places on HDI as Covid-19 reverses global gains

India’s rank on the Human Development Index has slipped from 130 in 2020 to 132 in 2021, in line with a global fall in HDI scores in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, shows the Human Development Report 2021-22 released Thursday.

According to the report, released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), India’s HDI value stood at 0.633 during 2021, which was lower than the world average of 0.732. In 2020, too, India recorded a decline in its HDI value (0.642) in comparison to the pre-Covid level of 2019 (0.645).

In a statement, the UNDP said: “India ranks 132 out of 191 countries and territories on the 2021/22 Human Development Index, tracking the global decline in human development.”

“Ninety percent of countries have registered a reduction in their Human Development Index value in 2020 or 2021, reversing much of the progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals,” said the statement.

“A large contributor to the Human Development Index’s recent decline is a global drop in life expectancy, down from 72.8 years in 2019 to 71.4 years in 2021. The last two years have had a devastating impact on billions of people worldwide when crises like Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine hit back-to-back and interacted with sweeping social and economic shifts and dangerous planetary changes,” the statement said.

HDI is composite index that measures average achievement in human development taking into account four indicators: life expectancy at birth (Sustainable Development Goal 3); expected years of schooling (SDG 4.3); mean years of schooling (SDG 4.4); and gross national income (GNI) per capita (2017 PPP$) (SDG 8.5).

In 2021, India’s life expectancy at birth was recorded at 67.2 years; expected years of schooling at 11.9 years; mean years of schooling at 6.7 years; and gross national income per capita (2017 PPP) at $6,590. On all these four parameters, India was behind the world averages in 2021: life expectancy at 71.4 years, expected years of schooling at 12.8 years, mean years of schooling at 8.6 years and gross national income per capita (2017 PPP$) at $16,752.

“Like global trends, in India’s case, the drop in HDI from 0.645 in 2019 to 0.633 in 2021 can be attributed to falling life expectancy — 69.7 to 67.2 years. India’s expected years of schooling stand at 11.9 years, and the mean years of schooling are at 6.7 years. The GNI per capita level is $6,590,” the statement said.
India has also been ranked 122 on the Gender Inequality Index.

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