Human Development Report by UNDP

Oct, 22, 2018

[op-ed snap] We have failed our children


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Development Report, Human Capital Index (HCI)

Mains level: India’s poor performance in global indexes related to health, education, nutrition and how to improve the situation


World Development Report 2019

  1. The World Bank publishes the World Development Report every year
  2. The Human Capital Index (HCI) is part of the annual report
  3. It is a measure of “the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18”

HCI calculation & India’s position

  1. The index is measured in terms of the productivity of the next generation of workers relative to the benchmark of the complete education and full health
  2. An economy in which a child born today can expect to achieve complete education and full health will score a value of 1 on the index
  3. India’s HCI is 0.44 and rank is 115
  4. That places India in the bottom third of the world

Factors behind India’s poor performance

  1. HCI is based on six factors, each getting a score
  2. In the case of India, given the average household income, the probability of a child surviving to the age of 5 is satisfactory at 0.96
  3. The adult survival rate is reasonable at 0.83
  4. What pulls India down are the ‘Learning adjusted years of school’ and ‘Fraction of children under 5 not stunted’
  5. The score on the former is 5.8 years at school. On the latter, it is 0.62, meaning that 38 per cent of children under 5 years of age have a low height-for-age

Reasons behind this

  1. Poor design, faulty implementation and inadequate allocation of funds are the main reasons
  2. While ‘Right to Education’ vastly expanded enrolment of children, not enough attention was paid to the quality of the schools, the teachers and the instruction
  3. Likewise, anganwadis and ‘Right to Food Security’ were necessary interventions, but they have failed to provide sufficient food to pregnant and lactating mothers and to children during their first five years

Connecting HCI & Global Hunger Index

  1. The HCI must be read along with the Global Hunger Index (GHI) published by Deutsche Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide
  2. One out of seven children in India is undernourished; two out of five are stunted (low height-for-age), and one out of five is wasted (low weight-for-height)
  3. The cause is undernutrition
  4. On the one hand, we have mountains of wheat and paddy and, on the other, we are unable to provide enough food to each child

Way forward

  1. MGNREGA and the Right to Food Security law were created to overcome this situation
  2. Due to the neglect of these legislations, the result is low HCI, high GHI (score 31.1, indicating ‘serious hunger’) and a low rank of 139 among 189 countries in the Human Development Index
  3. The focus should again be shifted on them to ensure that these interventions provide the expected outcomes
Oct, 17, 2018

[op-ed snap] India’s abysmal human capital development


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nobel prizes, Global Human Capital Index, Global Innovation Index

Mains level: Human capital development in India


Nobel prize for Economics 2018

  1. The announcement for the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer calls for a moment of celebration for the field of development economics
  2. Romer’s endogenous growth theory, unlike previous growth models, assumes ‘technology’ as an endogenous or internal factor adding value to the growth capacity of a given nation through greater investments, made by profit-maximizing agents in the economy
  3. The distinguishing feature of the technology as an input is that it is neither a conventional good or a public good; it is a non-rival, partially excludable good

What does ‘non-rivalry’ lead to?

  1. The “non-rival” feature allows “technology” to act as a unique value-addition factor in growth diagnosis
  2. It is in the interest of profit-maximizing agents (firms, households, and government) to constantly invest in technology and seek “non-excludable” gains from tech-based advancements over time
  3. For example, making investments in geo-spatial technologies like GIS and Google Maps will distribute gains to everyone across sectors in a non-excludable manner while drastically increasing production capacities

Linking human capital development to technology

  1. There is a greater need for linking human capital development capacities (via complementary investments in education, health and skilling of workers across social groups) in proportion with the rate of technological investments required for ensuring consistently high levels of developmental growth
  2. The World Bank recently released its report on the Global Human Capital Index rankings, where India currently ranks 115th out of 157 nations (China being 46th, Indonesia 87th, Malaysia 55th)
  3. The research will help map investments in expanding technological growth and its adoption by the social fabric of the society through proportional investments in areas of human capital development

India’s scenario

  1. According to the index scores from the report, a child born in India is likely to be only 44% productive when (s)he grows up, if (s)he receives education and adequate healthcare
  2. India, in relation to other developing economies, does poorly in its ability to expand overall productivity with a rise in GDP per capita
  3. There is also a disconnect between our rate of technological growth and our inability to distribute the gains from it by adequately focusing on skilling (via knowledge, education) and health, critical for greater resilience and sustained productivity
  4. The scenario for technological growth in India over the last three decades reflects a mixed effect on its growth scenario

Tech advancements in India & less tricle down

  1. Information and communication and information technology (ICT), manufacturing industry, transportation, defence, and space technologies are some of the important sectors which have attempted to incorporate modern technologies in enhancing sector-wise growth capacities
  2. Most of such benefits (and investments) in the tech-based advancements are accrued by a few elitist sections of the society, occupationally involved in these sectors
  3. At a corporate level, too, only selected firms with visible monopolistic advantages (because of high capital bases) seem to have benefitted more from global advancements in certain kinds of technologies (say in mechanization of food-processing, automation of automobile manufacturing etc.)
  4. This has led to a widening of the asymmetric distribution of tech-accrued benefits which is seen in the distributional inequities of wages and employment patterns
  5. This has further raised concerns for the negligible trickle-down effect of knowledge bases from technology developments

Global Innovation Index (GII)

  1. The GII reflects the technological state of growth for around 180 economies, computing the progress made in technological advancements at a national level, ranging from intellectual property filing rates to mobile application creation, education spending, and scientific and technical publications
  2. India currently ranks 57th (out of 180) in GII’s latest ranking released in 2018
  3. It is vital to acknowledge that most technology-based innovations in any stage of development require two things to be ensured in continuum by a nation’s economic policy environment: growth of innovators and finance
  4. Unless the state and other regulatory agencies are able to nurture an environment for ensuring the right balance of incentive structures for both, innovators and financiers, the interests of innovators will perpetually outbalance the needs of the society, creating poor productive capacities for the economy to grow

Way forward

  1. Real-time data and increased frequency of credible measurement of investments made in education, health and areas of technological adoption require proper monitoring and evaluation
  2. This calls for a more robust state capacity and bureaucracy to implement state-sponsored programmes and to assist the private sector to further crowd in more social investments for sustained (inclusive) growth
Oct, 12, 2018

[pib] World Bank’s Human Capital Index released


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Human Capital Index Report and its findings

Mains level: HCI stats are refuted by India along with several other countries. The newscard discusses various parameters which reduces the credibility of the WB report.



  • The World Bank released today a Human Capital Index (HCI) as part of the World Development Report 2019.

Key observations in HCI for India 

  • Human Capital Index: A child born in India today will be only 44 per cent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.
  • Probability of Survival to Age 5: 96 out of 100 children born in India survive to age 5.
  • Expected Years of School: In India, a child who starts school at age 4 can expect to complete 10.2 years of school by her 18th
  • Harmonized Test Scores: Students in India score 355 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment.
  • Learning-adjusted Years of School: Factoring in what children actually learn, expected years of school is only 5.8 years.
  • Adult Survival Rate: Across India, 83 per cent of 15-year olds will survive until age 60.
  • Healthy Growth (Not Stunted Rate): 62 out of 100 children are not stunted. 38 out of 100 children are stunted, and so at risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime.
  • Gender Differences: In India, HCI for girls is marginally higher than for boys.

However, India has decided to ignore the HCI owing to following factors:

(A) Discontent with the Methodology

  1. Education quality is gauged using harmonized test scores from major international student achievement testing programs.
  2. The lack of availability of an authoritative and uniform test score, about 9 different test scores and systems using varying methodology have been claimed to have been harmonized by the World Bank.
  3. None of the 9 systems cover more than 100 countries, with some have very limited regional coverage.
  4. This makes the methodology quite complex and non-uniform.
  5. For some countries, average national scores in a particular year and in some cases in selected cities or states have been used as predictors of education potential and future economic growth.

(B) Assessment lacking Global Standard

  1. For India, the data for quality of education pertains to 2009 assessment by PISA, which was conducted for only two states, namely Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  2. The use of PISA and TIMSS scores is the methodology for testing is largely controlled by non UN agencies.
  3. It is not globalized unlike the methodology of UNICEF and WHO that are used for health and survival indicators.

(C) Gross negligence of important measures

  1. The differences in development outcomes arising from governance issues, political systems, socio-cultural context, and legacy issues have been totally ignored.
  2. The metric of HCI is too simplistic at one level and too ignorant of development realities at another.
  3. Various initiatives such as SBM, Samagra Shiksha, PMJDY, and ABP etc. are transforming human capital in India at rapid pace.
  4. The HCI score for India does not reflect the key initiatives that are being taken for developing human capital in the country.

Way Forward

  1. The qualitative aspects of improved governance that have a strong correlation with human capital development have not been captured by the way the HCI has been constructed.
  2. The gap in data and methodology overlook the initiatives taken by a country and, in turn, portray an incomplete and pre-determined picture.
  3. This infact makes the case for an adoption of the Index by more countries somewhat remote.
  4. With the emphasis on country scores and rankings, the HCI could trivialize the importance of the Human Capital Project.
  5. Hence the Government of India has decided to ignore the HCI and will continue to undertake its path breaking programme for human capital development.


Human Capital Project

  1. As part of this World Development Report (WDR), the World Bank has launched a Human Capital Project (HCP).
  2. The HCP programme is claimed to be a program of advocacy, measurement, and analytical work to raise awareness and increase demand for interventions to build human capital.
  3. There are three components of HCP:
  • a cross-country human capital measurement metric called the Human Capital Index (HCI),
  • a programme of measurement and research to inform policy action
  • a programme of support for country strategies to accelerate investment in human capital.

Human Capital Index (HCI)

  1. The HCI has been constructed for 157 countries.
  2. It claims to seek to measure the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18.
  3. The HCI has three components:
    • Survival: as measured by under-5 mortality rates
    • Expected years of Quality-Adjusted School:which combines information on the quantity and quality of education
    • Health environment:Using two proxies of (a) adult survival rates and (b) the rate of stunting for children under age 5


  1. UNDP constructs Human Development Index (HDI) for several years.
  2. The HCI uses survival rates and stunting rate instead of life expectancyas measure of health, and quality-adjusted learning instead of merely years of schooling as measure of education.
  3. HCI also excludes per capita income whereas the HDI uses it.
Nov, 16, 2017

[op-ed snap] The Tripura model

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, National Family Health Survey (NFHS), infant mortality rate (IMR), MGNREGA

Mains level: How Tripura model can be adopted by other northeastern states for their development


Tripura’s peace model

  1. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Tripura embarked on a unique path to peace
  2. It was not dependent solely on security measures but involved investment in human development and people’s participation in the implementation of socio-political and economic policy as well
  3. More than a decade later, the human development consequences of peace have been remarkable

Peace process in the state

  1. Economic and social investments and people’s involvement are essential components of the peace process in the State
  2. The landmark repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, in 2015 in the State was an outstanding symbol of the success of this policy
  3. There is now a palpable atmosphere of peace and personal safety in the State, even in its most remote reserved-forest settlements
  4. The progress achieved over the last 10 years in several indicators of human development — especially in education, health, and employment — is the State’s peace dividend

Growing literacy and health indicators

  1. Literacy has been described as being “the basic personal skill that underlies the whole modernizing sequence.”
  2. Separatist militancy in Tripura was an obstacle to the spread of literacy and schooling
  3. According to the Census, the share of literate persons above the age of seven years rose from 73% to 87% between 2001 and 2011
  4. Data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) indicate that the infant mortality rate (IMR) in Tripura almost halved between 2005-6 and 2014-15

Employment and labour force participation

  1. Peace and security enable the expansion of employment and livelihoods
  2. A labour force, by definition, includes those in work and seeking work
  3. For the last five to six years, Tripura has ranked first among the States of India with respect to the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
  4. An important feature of Tripura’s economy over the last decade has been a rise in labour force participation and work force participation, particularly among women
  5. This is in marked contrast to India as a whole, where data show a decline in female labour force participation and work force participation over time
  6. An important factor in the dramatic rise in work participation rates, especially among women, has been the improvement in the security environment, which encouraged women to enter the labour force in much larger numbers than before

Positive achievement and a challenge

  1. The rise in work and labour force participation rates, particularly among women, is both a positive achievement and a challenge
  2. The challenge is to generate adequate employment opportunities to absorb the increasing number of women who will join the work force

Tripura’s inclusive model

  1. Tripura’s path of development is one that respects administrative autonomy for regions where people of the Scheduled Tribes are predominant in the population, and the principle of unity of its diverse people
  2. An inclusive path of development, one that encompasses the poorest in the population and the most far-flung of forest-based human settlements, is a precious legacy
Jan, 23, 2016

Sri Lanka tops South Asia in human development

As for the growth rate during 1990-2014, South Asia’s figure was 1.38, the highest among all regions.

  1. The report, which studied a total of 188 countries and territories, has determined the HDI values.
  2. By assessing long-term progress in 3 basic dimensions of human development — a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
  3. India and Bhutan fall under the category of medium human development countries.
  4. India is placed at 130th rank and Pakistan, 147th.
  5. Within the region of South Asia, Afghanistan tops the list with the value of 1.89 for 1990-2014 followed by Bangladesh (1.64), Nepal (1.49) and India (1.48).
Dec, 15, 2015

Inequality pulls back India

India is ranked 130 of 188 countries on the HDI in 2014, up marginally from 135 in 2013.

  1. The annual HDI report looks at the role of work in improving human development.
  2. India loses over one-fourth of its HDI value, when inequality is factored in, .
  3. Workforce participation rates for women have dropped globally, driven largely by declines in the last decade in India and China.
  4. The HDR report calls for a new social contract among govts, society, and the private sector to ensure everyone has a say in policy formulation.
  5. Over half of India’s population is multi-dimensionally poor, while a further 18% are close to this line.
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