Human Development Report by UNDP

HDI: Addressing India’s Subnational Human Development


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: HDI and India's rank

Mains level: HDI and India's performance analysis

Central Idea

  • India is now one of the fastest-growing economies globally. However, this growth has not resulted in a corresponding increase in its Human Development Index (HDI). According to the Human Development Report of 2021-22, India ranks 132 out of 191 countries, behind Bangladesh (129) and Sri Lanka (73).

Facts for Prelims: Human Development Index (HDI)

  • Composite statistical measure by UNDP: The HDI is a composite statistical measure created by the United Nations Development Programme to evaluate and compare the level of human development in different regions around the world.
  • As an alternative with broader aspects: It was introduced in 1990 as an alternative to conventional economic measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which do not consider the broader aspects of human development.
  • Aspects: The HDI assesses a country’s average accomplishment in three aspects 1. A long and healthy life, 2, knowledge, and 3. A decent standard of living.
  • India ranks 132 out of 191 countries in the HDI 2021.

The subnational HDI: A new index

  • Given India’s large size and population, it’s critical to address subnational or state-wise disparities in human development.
  • A new index has developed by using the methodology suggested by the UNDP and the National Statistical Office (NSO), which measures human development on a subnational level for 2019-20.

HDI Calculation

  • The HDI is calculated using four indicators: life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling, and Gross National Income (GNI) per capita.
  • The subnational HDI uses GSDP per capita as a proxy indicator for GNI since GNI per capita estimates are unavailable at the subnational level.
  • The methodology involves calculating the geometric mean of the normalised indices for the three dimensions of human development while applying the maximum and minimum values recommended by the UNDP and NSO.

Subnational HDI Findings

  • The subnational HDI shows that while some states have made considerable progress, others continue to struggle. Delhi occupies the top spot and Bihar occupies the bottom spot.
  • The five states with the highest HDI scores are Delhi, Goa, Kerala, Sikkim, and Chandigarh. Nineteen states, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Telangana, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh, have scores ranging between 0.7 and 0.799 and are classified as high human development states.
  • The bottom five states are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Assam, with medium levels of human development.

Reasons for Discrepancies

  1. The economic growth has been unevenly distributed, with the top 10% of the Indian population holding over 77% of the wealth. This has resulted in significant disparities in access to basic amenities, healthcare, and education.
  2. While India has made significant progress in reducing poverty and increasing access to healthcare and education, the quality of such services remains a concern.


  • The government needs to prioritize human development alongside economic growth to ensure that the benefits of growth are more evenly distributed, and it requires a multi-faceted approach to address various issues such as income inequality, gender inequality, access to quality social services, environmental challenges, and social infrastructure investment. India must prioritize investments in human development and job creation, particularly for its youth, to realize its demographic dividend.

Mains Question

Q. Analyze the performance of different states in terms of their Human Development Index (HDI) and suggest measures that could be taken to address the disparities in human development in the country

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