India with a population of over 1.20 billion is ranked 131 among 188 countries of the world in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI). With a composite value of 0.624 India is grouped with countries showing medium human development (UNDP 2016). Similar to the UN Development Agency, the Planning Commission of India has calculated the human development index by taking states and union territories as the unit of analysis.
The scores bring into forth some interesting developmental outcomes to the fore. Kerala with a composite index value of 0.760 (2011) is placed at the top followed by the NCR Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, and Punjab. And, states like Bihar, Odisha and Chhattisgarh are at the bottom among the 23 major states in India.
There are several socio-political, economic and historical reasons for such a state of affairs. Kerala is able to record the highest value in the HDI largely due to its impressive performance in achieving near hundred per cent literacy. In a different scenario the states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Assam and Uttar Pradesh have very low literacy.
Apart from the educational attainment, the levels of economic development too play significant impacts on HDI. Economically developed states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Punjab and Haryana have higher value of HDI as compared to states like Chhattisgarh,
Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, etc.
Thus, the Indian subcontinent, as expected exhibits significant spatial variations in the levels of human development. There are states with scores comparable to western nations as well as states that have lower scores. This means the government has to take a targeted approach to bring in improvements in human development across states.
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