Skip to main content

Global report: India’s economic progress not 'desirably translating' into social progress

By Udaya S Mishra, Srinivas Goli* 

Economic growth in India for last two decades has been impressive excluding a few of odd years. However, the translation of economic growth into quality of human welfare is still debatable. 
A first step in this direction began when an alternative yardstick of measuring development moved from Gross Domestic Product (GDP -- a money metric measure of a country’s economy) to human development (comprising of means and ends together).
Despite this shift, measuring quality of human welfare has not entirely replaced the measurement of economic progress (mostly assessed in GDP terms). Contentions surrounding GDP has been its uncertain capacity to translate means to ends along with inclusiveness and sustainability feature. Even the Human Development Index remains inadequate to accommodate these features.
On recognition of this limitation there has been efforts at assessment of human welfare with alternative comprehensive measures that go beyond the means and accommodate ends as well. An effort in this direction has been the formulation of social progress index that comprehends three dimensions namely basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing and opportunity described by 89 indicators.
This exercise of measuring social progress is in place since 2011 and it offers an account of social progress for 168 countries of the world. The fresh edition of this index in 2022 places India at 110th rank and at fourth tier of performance. 
Despite being at this tier of performance India’s progress has been commendable with a gain of 8.49 points realising a score of 60.19/100. On the same account compared to 5.4 points gain at the global level, India’s progress is faster.
India shows quantum jump in domains like basic needs, access to information communication, water sanitation, shelter and health wellness. However, the gains in many other components has been quite slow and in fact negative in domains like environmental quality, personal rights and inclusiveness.
A review of social progress levels within the country and its states generates six tiers ranging an index value between 43 and 66. According to this classification, the states at the lowest tier are Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand with an index value between 43 and 45 (see Figure 1).
In contrast, the first tier of states that have an index value of 62 to 66 include the two south Indian state of Kerala and Tamil Nadu along with a few smaller states and union territories. In fact, this index across districts of India suggest that districts with poor social progress are concentrated largely in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
Reading the relationship between economic growth and social progress across the states of India is perplexing. For some of the states and union territories, we observe a positive relationship between the social progress index and per capita NSDP (Net State Domestic Product -- a monetary measure of state level economic development) implying that they are able to convert their economic progress into better social outcomes.
For example, Goa and Sikkim rank high in this regard, while Bihar ranks the lowest on both economic and social progress. However, some states and UTs, such as Delhi, have high per capita NSDP but relatively low social progress, and vice-versa. Kerala and Tamil Nadu are two large states having a greater translation value of their economic progress into social progress.
Another striking takeaway from the trends in social progress index and the per capita NSDP over time is that the number of outliers have increased from that in 2017 to 2022 (see Figure 1 and Figure 2). 
This indicates that gains in the economic growth have been unable to translate into social progress for some states, while in others relatively lower levels of economic development have coincided with a higher social progress index. This highlights the need for more effective social welfare policies to achieve the aspired levels of social progress among the several states.
The measure of social progress involves a wide range of indicators which are a subset of many of the SDG indicators that qualify this index as a holistic measure of human welfare compared with existing set of alternative indices that evaluates human welfare. Social progress therefore should be the yardstick of monitoring progress in human well-being in this day and time.
*Udaya S Mishra is Professor and Srinivas Goli is Associate Professor with the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai



Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Delhi HC rules in favour of retired Air Force officer 'overcharged' for Covid treatment

By Rosamma Thomas*  In a decision of May 22, 2023, the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of petitioner Group Captain Suresh Khanna who was under treatment at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, between April 28 and May 5, 2021, for a period of eight days, for Covid-19 pneumonia. The petitioner had to pay Rs 3,55,286 as treatment costs, but the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) only reimbursed him for Rs 1,83,748, on the basis of government-approved rates. 

'Enough evidence' in Indian tradition to support legal basis for same-sex marriage

By Iyce Malhotra, Joseph Mathai, Sandeep Chachra*  The ongoing hearing in the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage provides space for much-needed conversations on issues that have hitherto remained “invisible” or engaged with patriarchal locker room humour. We must recognize that people with diverse sexualities and complex gender identities have faced discrimination, stigma and decades of oppression. Their issues have mainly remained buried in dominant social discourse, and many view them with deep insecurities.

Religious divide 'kept alive' with low intensity communalism in Gujarat's cultural capital

By Rajiv Shah  A fact-finding report, prepared by the Mumbai-based non-profit, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS), has cited the Vadodara Ram Navami violence of March 30 as yet another example of how, after the BJP consolidating its hold on political power in Gujarat post-2002 riots and at the Centre in 2014, the nature of communal riots has changed, underlining, as opposed to high-intensity violence earlier, now riots have become “more sub-radar and at a smaller scale, more localized”.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

76% Odisha govt school infrastructure in dilapidated state, 'undermine' RTE norms

By Our Representative  As many as 75.86% (5,421) elementary schools in Odisha do not possess a playground, depriving students of physical activity opportunities. Also, 75.68% (5,408) of schools require minor or major repairing, undermining the norms and standards stipulated in the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Caste, impact on Ayodhya area 'halting' BJP rulers to act against Brij Bhushan Singh

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Finally, the #WrestlersProtest has got international attention. The United World Wrestling (UWW),  condemning the treatment and detention of wrestlers and expressing its disappointment over the lack of results of the investigations against Brij Bhushan Singh, accused of sexually harassing women wrestlers, has urged the "relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation."

Urgency for next pandemic? But Mr Health Secretary, you're barking up wrong tree

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  The Union Health Secretary, Mr Rajesh Bhushan addressing the Health Working Group of G20 India, at Hyderabad on 05 June 2023, cautioned that the next pandemic would not wait for us to make global treaties and called on countries to work together.

Why continued obsession with adding more 'water guzzling' coal, nuclear power plants?

By Shankar Sharma*  The true concerns over water inefficiency in coal power plants have been known and have been highlighted many times in the past. A highly relevant study report by Prayas Energy Group had highlighted this fast looming threat to our society many years ago. But our authorities have been acting as though there can be no issue with water supply, and that additional coal power plants can be added indefinitely; even without any true relevance to climate change.