Human Development Index 2020

Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.

Context: The Human Development Index was released recently by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Prelims: Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.

Mains: GS I- Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues.


  • What is 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.”
    • Thus, enlarging the range of people’s choices is the most significant aspect of human development.
    • 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 human development.
  • What is HDI?
    • The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development.
    • A country scores a higher HDI when the lifespan is higher, the education level is higher, and the gross national income GNI (PPP) per capita is higher.
    • It was developed by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq and was further used to measure a country’s development by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Human Development Report Office.
    • The 2010 Human Development Report introduced an Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI).
    • While the simple HDI remains useful, it stated that “the IHDI is the actual level of human development (accounting for inequality)”, and “the HDI can be viewed as an index of ‘potential’ human development (or the maximum IHDI that could be achieved if there were no inequality)”.
  • Origin
    • The origins of the HDI are found in the annual Human Development Reports produced by the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    • These were devised and launched by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq in 1990, and had the explicit purpose “to shift the focus of development economics from national income accounting to people-centric policies”.
    • To produce the Human Development Reports, Mahbub ul Haq formed a group of development economists including Paul Streeten, Frances Stewart, Gustav Ranis, Keith Griffin, Sudhir Anand, and Meghnad Desai.
    • Nobel laureate Amartya Sen utilized Haq’s work in his own work on human capabilities.
    • Haq believed that a simple composite measure of human development was needed to convince the public, academics, and politicians that they can and should evaluate development not only by economic advances but also improvements in human well-being.
  • Dimensions: The HDI combining three dimensions:
    • A long and healthy life: Life expectancy at birth
      • The long and healthy life dimension is measured by life expectancy at birth.
      • The life expectancy at birth is a statistical measure that an average individual is expected to live based on certain demographic factors such as the year of birth and current age.
    • Knowledge: Mean years of schooling and Expected years of schooling
      • This is a second dimension in the HDI. The indicators of education are the expected years of schooling and the mean years of schooling.
      • According to the UN, the average maximum years of schooling is 18 years, while the mean maximum years of schooling is 15 years.
    • A decent standard of living: GNI per capita (PPP US$)
      • The standard of living is usually measured by the gross national income (GNI) per capita.
      • The GNI indicates the total domestic and foreign output created by the residents of a certain country.

  • Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI)
    • The IHDI combines a country’s average achievements in health, education, and income with how those achievements are distributed among the country’s population by “discounting” each dimension’s average value according to its level of inequality.
    • Thus, the IHDI is the distribution-sensitive average level of human development.
    • Two countries with different distributions of achievements can have the same average HDI value.
    • Under perfect equality, the IHDI is equal to the HDI but falls below the HDI when inequality rises.
    • Difference between the IHDI and HDI
      • The difference is the human development cost of inequality, also termed – the overall loss to human development due to inequality.
      • The IHDI allows a direct link to inequalities in dimensions, it can inform policies towards inequality reduction and leads to a better understanding of inequalities across populations and their contribution to the overall human development cost.

Significance & Limitations
  • Significance
    • It is multidimensional as it includes indicators such as literacy rate, enrollment ratio, life expectancy rate, infant mortality rate, etc.
    • It acts as a true yardstick to measure development in a real sense.
    • Unlike per capita income, which only indicates that a rise in the per capita income implies economic development, HDI considers many other vital social indicators and helps in measuring a nation's well-being.
    • It helps as a differentiating factor to distinguish and classify different nations on the basis of their HDI ranks.
  • Limitations of the Human Development Index
    • Despite the revolutionary idea behind the concept of the HDI, the statistical measure is greatly simplified.
    • The current version of the Human Development Index calculations considers only a few factors that affect the development of a country.
    • Wide divergence within countries. For example, countries like China and Kenya have widely different HDI scores depending on the region in question. (e.g. north China poorer than south-east)
    • HDI reflects long-term changes (e.g. life expectancy) and may not respond to recent short-term changes.
    • Higher national wealth does not indicate welfare.
    • GNI may not necessarily increase economic welfare
    • Also, higher GNI per capita may hide widespread inequality within a country.
    • Some countries with higher real GNI per capita have high levels of inequality (e.g. Russia, Saudi Arabia)
    • However, HDI can highlight countries with similar GNI per capita but different levels of economic development.
    • Economic welfare depends on several other factors, such as – threat of war, levels of pollution, access to clean drinking water, etc.|
2020 Human Development Index
  • Theme: Human development and the Anthropocene

  • Top countries
    • Norway topped the index, followed by Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Iceland.
    • In the BRICS grouping, Russia was 52 in the human development index, Brazil 84, and China 85.
  • Planetary Pressures-adjusted HDI(PHDI)
    • For the first time, the United Nations Development Programme introduced a new metric to reflect the impact caused by each country’s per-capita carbon emissions and its material footprint, which measures the amount of fossil fuels, metals, and other resources used to make the goods and services it consumes.
    • Norway, which tops the HDI, falls 15 places if this metric is used, leaving Ireland at the top of the table.
    • Almost, 50 countries would drop entirely out of the “very high human development group” category, using this new metric, called the Planetary Pressures-adjusted HDI, or PHDI.
    • Australia falls to 72 places in the ranking, while the United States and Canada would fall 45 and 40 places respectively, reflecting their disproportionate impact on natural resources.
    • The oil and the gas-rich Gulf States also fell steeply.
    • China would drop 16 places from its current ranking of 85.
Human Development in India-2020
  • India has dropped two spots on the Human Development Index (HDI), according to the 2020 Human Development Report published by the United Nations Development Programme.
  • Asia’s third-largest economy was ranked at 131 among 189 countries in 2019. In 2018, India ranked 129 (out of 189) countries.
  • According to the report, India’s HDI value for 2019 is 0.645 — which put the country in the medium human development category — positioning it at 131 out of 189 countries and territories.
  • As per the report, between 1990 and 2019, India’s HDI value increased from 0.429 to 0.645, an increase of 50.3%.
  • Bhutan and Namibia have overtaken India’s ranking, and are placed at the 129th and 130th spots, respectively.
  • Among a clutch of South Asian nations, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Cambodia, and Pakistan were put under the category of countries with medium human development.

  • Key Highlights:
    • Purchasing power parity
      • The report also mentions that India’s gross national income per capita fell to $6,681 in 2019 from $6,829 in 2018 on a purchasing power parity basis.
      • Purchasing power parity or PPP is a measurement of prices in different countries using the prices of specific goods to compare the absolute purchasing power of the countries’ currencies.
    • Life Expectancy
      • Life expectancy for Indians at birth was 69.7 years in 2019, slightly lower than the South Asian average of 69.9 years, but slightly higher than the average of medium human development index groupings in the world at 69.3 years.
      • Bangladesh has a life expectancy of 72.6 years and Pakistan 67.3 years.
    • Malnutrition
      • The report said that indigenous children in Cambodia, India, and Thailand show more malnutrition-related issues such as stunting and wasting.
      • In India, different responses in parental behaviour, as well as some disinvestment in girls’ health and education, have led to higher malnutrition among girls than among boys.
    • India’s Green Energy Initiatives
      • The report praised India’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
      • Under the Paris Agreement, India pledged to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP from the 2005 level by 33-35% by 2030 and to obtain 40% of electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
      • As part of the plan, the National Solar Mission aims to promote solar energy for power generation and other uses to make solar energy competitive with fossil fuel-based options.
      • Solar capacity in India increased from 2.6 gigawatts in March 2014 to 30 gigawatts in July 2019, achieving its target of 20 gigawatts four years ahead of schedule.
      • In 2019, India ranked fifth for installed solar capacity,”
  • India’s Human Development Index: Trend over the years
    • The report stated that since 1990, the HDI value of India has increased to 0.645 from 0.429, registering an increase of over 50%.
    • During the same period, the life expectancy at birth in India rose by nearly 12 years, while mean years of schooling witnessed an increase of 3.5 years.
    • During this while, the expected years of schooling also rose by 4.5 years.
    • Moreover, during this period, the GNI per capita of India also increased, registering a rise of nearly 274%.
  • India’s HDI trends compared to neighbouring countries
    • The UNDP compared India’s value in the HDI with other countries in South Asia, viz, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
    • As against India’s rank at 131, Bangladesh ranked at the 133rd position, while Pakistan stood at 154th place.
    • In the South Asian region, India’s HDI is more than the region’s average which stands at 0.641, while India is also above the average value of 0.631 among the medium HDI category countries.
    • However, if adjusted for inequality in the distribution of human development across all the people of India, which HDI recognizes as a shortcoming of the actual HDI value.
    • Therefore, the HDI report also gives an Inequality-adjusted HDI or the IHDI.
    • After this adjustment, the HDI value for India fell by 26.4%, causing the value to reach 0.475.
    • This adjustment also caused Bangladesh’s value to fall by 24.4%, surpassing India’s IHDI value and standing at 0.478.
    • Meanwhile, Pakistan’s IHDI value fell to 0.384, decreasing by 31.1%.
    • While the IHDI value for India was at par with the average IHDI value of the South Asian region, the medium HDI countries’ IHDI value stood at 0.465.

Case Study

Norway-happiest country
  • Norway developed cooperation in society evolutionally so as to provide social equality and at now its social system is well-known with free education and healthcare, as a result of that, the country is one of the happiest countries of the world at present time and ranked high in HDI.
  • Even though Norway’s economy relies on oil production, the economy of the country was in a bad situation in the nineteenth century.
  • Only as for the middle of the twentieth century, it started the economic growth at the same pace as other industrialized countries of Europe.
  • Norway set the provision of social inclusion and equality in the community as a goal during the whole 20th centenary period, then the government challenged the idea that farmers and workers should have had their own voices and rights at their workplaces and after that, at the beginning of 50s, they began calling the population to have an own vote and voice as well as use them.
  • Generally, Norway implemented these endeavours and it pursues them:
    • Norway attracts businesses and investments in the presence of government-appointed representatives to disclose the profits of gas and oil sales to the public;
    • Norway has achieved gender equality by paying men and women who are left to care for newborns;
    • Introduces a penal system with low rates of recidivism;
    • There is strong government intervention in promoting inter-ethnic harmony;
    • Norwegian workers work 35 hours a week and they have long vacations;
    • Regular monitors ensure Norway's international situation on media freedom, democracy, and civil and political rights;
    • Norway is the only country where any person can have the freedom to join in any religion or not to join at the age of 15.
Sweden-labor law
  • Under Swedish law, employers may neither discriminate against part-time or fixed-term employees nor treat an applicant or an employee unfairly on grounds related to parental leave.
  • Trade union representatives are also protected from discrimination based on their union activities.
  • There is no statutory time limit regulating the amount of leave a representative is entitled to for union work as long as the leave is reasonable in relation to the extent of the activities.
  • Employees whose employment has been terminated as a consequence of redundancy shall have rights of priority for re-employment in the business in which they were previously employed, according to the Employment Protection Act.
  • An employer is required to take proactive measures to promote equal rights and opportunities to prevent discrimination of employees in the workplace.
UK: cooperative schools
  • In England, the education reforms continued with another Act in 2006 which devolved further powers to schools.
  • This enabled a school to own its own assets, employ staff directly, and set its own admission arrangements.
  • To do this, schools needed to set themselves up as an autonomous body as an independent trust using a model similar to the one used by faith schools.
  • In response to this, a co-operative trust model, called a Foundation Trust, was developed.
  • This permitted the school to become a multi-stakeholder co-operative that provided a real voice in governance for parents, carers, staff, learners, and the local community.
  • Co-operative schools are already a major player in England’s school system with the third-largest network in England.

Please Share with maximum friends to support the Initiative.

Download the Samajho App

Join 5 lakh+ students in downloading PDF Notes for 2000+ Topics relevant for UPSC Civil Services Exam. &nbsp Samajho Android App: Samajho iOS App: &nbsp Samajho IAS Youtube Channel (300K+ Subscribers):