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While the latest GDP growth rate of 13.5 per cent in the first quarter of the current fiscal year (Q1FY23) may have been a reason for rejoicing for many in India, a new report by the Institute of Competitiveness reflected the poor performance of the country in terms of social inequality.
The Competitiveness Roadmap for India@100 shows that inequality in India has increased sharply since 2000 in contrast with most other countries in the world. India has scored low marks in almost all social progress categories for nourishment, education, gender equality, and healthcare.
"While poverty has fallen, inequality has significantly increased, especially since 2000. This trend has been in contrast with the dynamics globally and in other emerging economies," the report said. The share of the top 10 per cent of the population in total wealth rose above the global average after 2000 and has remained above it ever since.
On the other hand, neighbouring countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia have reduced the share of the top 10 per cent of the population in their total wealth. The global average has also been declining, opposite India's trajectory.
In terms of equal access to quality education, India ranked at 135th spot out of 163 countries. The report gave a score of 0.96 to India, where 0 denotes inequality and 4 denotes equality in access to education.
The situation is much worse for women, with India ranking 139 in the gender parity in secondary education attainment.
"There are still 186 million women who are unable to read or write a simple sentence in any language, and the female literacy rate is at 65 per cent, more than 15 per cent-points behind men," the report read.
Apart from education, the country also performed poorly in healthcare. In terms of equal access to quality healthcare, India was ranked at a lowly 145th spot out of 163 countries. In terms of access to essential health services, the country's rank was 123.
India spends 2.3 per cent of its GDP less on healthcare compared to an average middle-income country. Further, the gap has increased by 0.5 per cent since 2010. The report shows that India's healthcare budget as a per cent of the GDP is even lower than the lower-middle-income countries.
World Bank data shows that the healthcare sector's share in India's budgeted expenditure has fallen from 4.24 per cent in 2002 to 3.01 per cent in 2019. In 2017 and 2018, it stood at 2.94 and 2.95 per cent, respectively.
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First Published: Fri, September 02 2022. 20:43 IST