Indices are in the air again. The UN Development Programme has released the latest set of human development indicators (for the year 2003). Here’s the tally for India and its neighbours.
Country HDI 2003 HDI 2002 Change Sri Lanka 93 96 +3 Maldives 96 84 -12 India 127 127 0 Bhutan 134 136 +2 Pakistan 135 142 +7 Nepal 136 140 +4 Bangladesh 139 138 -1 China 85 94 +9
Pakistan has distinguished itself by showing the greatest improvement, testimony to what it can achieve for itself if only it decides that improving the lot of its own people is more important than supporting the jihad in Kashmir, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Maldives was spinning into a morass of political woes in 2003-2004 — the effect of what is reflected in the human development indicators which registered a sharp fall in this year’s rankings.
India did register some gains, but relative to the rest of the countries it retained its relative position. It may not be an altogether accurate comparison, but it does appear that at least in terms of human development, Pakistan stands to gain a lot more from the peace process than India. India’s ranking is also a reflection of the inertia that has come to characterise its progress towards privatisation of industry, education and social services. China in comparison has made remarkable progress, and yet again, holds out important lessons for India.
Despite being wracked by civil war, Nepal did demonstrate progress in 2003. Next year’s results are likely to present a much more gloomy reading for Nepal.
Among India’s neighbours, Bangladesh comes last yet again. What that means is despite its innovations in rural development and women’s empowerment, Bangladesh has been unable to deliver changes fast enough to improve the lot of its people. The challenge before it seems to be the need to do a lot of things urgently simultaneously. That looks next to impossible given the priorities of its political pantheon.
Related Post: Human Development Index 2004, here on The Acorn