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Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah

A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.
The G-20 – consisting of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union – represent roughly 85% of global GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population. Collectively G-20 holds 80% of the world trade and approximately half of the world land area.
The book, published against the backdrop of India scheduled to host the 17th annual G-20 summit in 2022, which will mark India’s 75th anniversary of independence, says that “there is not a single country in the G-20 that has so poorly performed in Human Development Index (HDI).” Founded in 1999 to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, ever since the November 2011 Cannes summit, all G-20 summits have been held annually.
Extracting country-wise data of each of the G-20 members from the “Human Development Report”, the book says, the HDI comparison shows, on a scale of 1, developed countries perform pretty well, with Australia’s score being 0.939, followed by Germany 0.936, Canada 0.926, and Italy 0.880. But even Saudi Arabia (0.853), Argentina (0.825), Mexico 0.774, Russia (0.816), Turkey 0.791, and South Africa 0.699 perform better than India, whose score is just 0.640.
Stating that the position of a country in the HDI depends on some indicators such as “life expectancy at birth, maternal mortality rate and political participation of women”, the book says, in people’s life expectancy, not only developed countries perform much better – with Australia’s being 83 years, Canada’s 82 years, France’s 83 years, Germany’s 81 years, Italy’s 83.2 years, Japan’s 84 years, Republic of Korea’s 82 years, UK’s 81.7 years and US’ 79.5 years.
Even developed countries (with the sole exception of South Africa 63 years) perform much better than India, whose life expectancy is a little less than 69 years, just about the same as Indonesia’s (a little more than 69 years). The figures for other developing G-20 countries are – Turkey 64 years, Argentina 76.7 years, Brazil 76 years, China 76 years, Mexico 77 years, Russia 71 years and Saudi Arabia 75 years.
“In terms of Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), India is again the worst performer with 174 deaths per 100,000 live births”, the author, Dr Mandal, states. Thus, developed countries perform very well – Italy (4), Japan (5), Australia (6), Germany (6), Canada (7) and UK (9), Republic of Korea (11), US (14). However, India is placed worse than South Africa’s MMR of 138 and Indonesia’s 126. Interestingly, it is 12 in Saudi Arabia, 16 in Turkey, 25 in Russia, 38 in Mexico, 44 in Brazil and 27 in China.

Further pointing out that “India’s literacy rate is the lowest (74.0%) and it is much lower in comparison with other G-20 countries”, and is even worse than not just Russia, which achieved 100% literacy in 2010, and Argentina (98.0%), Australia (99.0%), Canada (99.0%), France (99.0%), Germany (99.0%), Italy (99.0%), Republic of Korea (98.0%) and UK (99.0%). it is worse than developing – Brazil (90.0%), China (93.0%), Indonesia (91.0%), Saudi Arabia (91.0%), Mexico (92.0%), and South Africa (92.0%).
Dr Mandal states, “When we examine the gross enrolment ratio, it indicates again a frustrating trend in India. Though the pre-primary and primary level students’ enrolment ratio is encouraging, the enrolment ratio in secondary level in India is the lowest among all the G-20 countries.” Thus, in India, only 75% population is in the category of secondary school age, which is worse not not just all the developed countries, but also Argentina, Brazil, China, , Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Mexico. 
Wondering “why is the bad shape of education in India”, the author of the book says, “The answer can be found in the government expenditure in the education sector. India’s budgetary allocation is negligible in comparison with most of the G-20 countries. India spends only 3.8% of GDP in education sector, whereas most of the other countries spend more than India.”  
“For example”, the author says, “Argentina spends 5.9%, Brazil and South Africa spend 5.9% of their GDP respectively, while France (5.5%), the UK (5.6%), Korea (5.1%), the USA (5.0%), Germany (4.9%), Italy (4.1%) and Turkey (4.4%) spend more share of GDP in the education sector. However, it regrets, data of Saudi Arabia, China and Canada are “not available”. 
Even as pointing out that G-20 countries “have failed to provide equal opportunity to women at par with their male counterparts”, the book states, “It is observed that Mexico (41.4%) has the highest percentage of women in the national Parliament, while South Africa is a bit lower with (40.0%) women in Parliament and it is followed by Argentina (38.9%).”
“Further”, it says, “France (35.4%), Australia (32.7%), Germany (31.5%) and Canada (30.1%) have more than 30% women in their Parliament, and countries like the UK (28.5%), China (24.2%), Saudi Arabia (19.9%), Indonesia (19.8%), the USA (19.7%), Russia (16.1%) and Korea (17.0%) have lower representation of women than their counterparts in France, Australia, Germany and Canada.”
Coming to India, the book says, “The position of India (11.6%) is the lowest in comparison with the other G-20 countries… even lower than Japan (13.7%), and Turkey (14.6%), while only Brazil (11.3%), despite the fact that India has sought to empower women “through participation in the highest law making body.”
As for the gender gap in labour force participation, the Dr Mandal says, while the global men’s labour force participation rate is 75.3%, this rate for women is only 48.7%, which suggests “a clear gap of 26.6% is visible”, and all G-20 countries suffer from a high gap. However, he regrets, the highest difference “is found in India” where the “total labour participation of men is 78.8%, while women’s participation rate is only 27.2% thereby making a difference of 51.6%.”
As against this, the gender gap in labour rate participation is much lower in developed countries of G-20 – Turkey 39.5%, Mexico 34.9%, Indonesia 31.1%, Republic of Korea 21.0%, and Brazil 21.5%. “In Canada this gap is only 9.1%, in France this gap is 9.5%, in the UK it is 11.3%, while in Australia and USA this gap is 11.3 and 12.6% respectively”, the book states.

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