In the human development rankings of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), India stood at 129th position in 2018, along with some of the poorest countries in the world. The fine print underlines multiple pain points that needs to be addressed.
Life expectancy, the average number of years a person spends in school, and incomes in India are close to the South Asian average. The region consists of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, apart from India. The progress in terms of incomes has been the slowest among the three parameters (Chart 1).
One of the reasons for the slow progress is inequality between the rich and the poor. In terms of incomes, inequality in India is less than that in the region and the world (Chart 2), but it is higher in education. Income inequality between men and women, however, is way too stark in India in comparison to South Asia and the world.
Women earn about a fifth of the income earned by men in India, a ratio which is near to 0.5 for the world (Chart 3).
In education, too, Indian girls attend school for a shorter period than the regional average. Interestingly, while the proportion of the population under poverty is higher than the average in developing countries, the prevalence of deprivation is lower (Chart 4). Similarly, though severe poverty is less, vulnerability towards poverty is quite high.
A high growth rate and labour reforms would make life better, the data suggests. While unemployment is under control in India, smaller incomes have resulted in a higher dominance of working poor, lower share of skilled workforce and and lack of old-age security (Chart 5).