India slips two places on HDI as Covid-19 reverses global gains

India’s rank on the Human Development Index has dropped from 130 in 2020 to 132 in 2021, in line with the global decline in HDI scores in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, showed the Human Development Report 2021-22 released on Thursday.

According to the report released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), India’s HDI value in 2021 was 0.633, lower than the world average of 0.732. In 2020 also, India recorded a decline in its HDI value (0.642) as compared to the pre-Covid level of 2019 (0.645).

The UNDP said in a statement: “Tracking the global decline in human development, India ranks 132 out of 191 countries and territories in the 2021/22 Human Development Index.”

“Ninety-nine percent of countries have reported a reduction in their Human Development Index value in 2020 or 2021, reversing much progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals,” the statement said.

“A major contributor to the recent decline of the Human Development Index is the global decline in life expectancy, down from 72.8 years in 2019 to 71.4 years in 2021. The last two years have had a devastating impact on billions of people around the world when Covid Crisis-19 and the war in Ukraine hit back-to-back and negotiated widespread social and economic changes and dangerous planetary changes,” the statement said.

The HDI is a composite index that measures average achievement in human development taking into account four indicators: life expectancy at birth (Sustainable Development Goal 3); expected years of schooling (SDG 4.3); average years of schooling (SDG 4.4); and Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (2017 PPP$) (SDG 8.5).

In 2021, India’s life expectancy at birth was recorded at 67.2 years; 11.9 years of expected years of schooling; average years of schooling 6.7 years; and Gross National Income (2017 PPP) per capita is $6,590. On all four of these parameters, India was behind the world average in 2021: life expectancy of 71.4 years, expected years of schooling of 12.8 years, average years of schooling of 8.6 years, and gross national income per capita (2017 PPP$) $16,752.

“Like global trends, in the case of India, the decline in HDI from 0.645 in 2019 to 0.633 in 2021 can be attributed to the decline in life expectancy – from 69.7 to 67.2 years. The expected years of schooling in India is 11.9 years. and the average years of schooling is 6.7 years. The GNI per capita level is $6,590,” the statement said.

India also ranks 122nd on the Gender Inequality Index.

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