Indian Human Development Reports


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

Inspired by the Global HDRs, and the human development paradigm introduced in the 8th FYP, some States in India started preparing sub-national HDRs. Major States in India are comparable in area and population size to important countries of other continents. Under the Indian constitution, States have the responsibility for subjects such as education, health, agriculture etc. and from the 1950s onward, State governments in India have been involved in the process of planning for economic and social development in the respective States. Therefore, it is quite natural that some of the State governments independently started preparing Human Development Reports. These reports largely followed the UNDP methodology, and the world’s first State HDR was published in Madhya Pradesh in 1995 and included the computation of the State’s HDI as well as HDI for all the districts in the State. Madhya Pradesh followed up its first HDR by releasing three more HDRs in 1998, 2002 and 2007. A similar independent process of preparing a State HDR in Karnataka was initiated in 1997 and the report was released in 1999.
Spurred by the enthusiasm from the States, Planning Commission and UNDP came together to off er technical and financial assistance to States preparing HDRs.
So far, 21 States have prepared HDRs from the total number of 28 States in India.15 The State HDRs calculate HDI and GDI, using various innovations in measurement partly due to lack of data on specific indicators. The reports, in many cases, also contain specific thematic chapters, for example on institutions and governance (Madhya Pradesh), human security (West Bengal), land tenure (West Bengal), the elderly (Tamil Nadu), Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Karnataka and Punjab), and infrastructure (Arunachal Pradesh).
The Planning Commission released the first National Human Development Report 2001. It compares the human development situation of States of India with the help of about 70 development indicators for each State. Among various other illustrations, measures and indicators, the HDI and Gender Equality Index (GEI), and HPI for the States of India are calculated, although the methodology used for computation of HDI is slightly different from the UNDP methodology.
With respect to GEI, the NHDR reveals that from the 80s to the early 90s, gender equality increased from 0.620 to 0.676, with Himachal Pradesh measuring the highest GEI in the 90s, and Bihar being at the bottom. Overall, women were better off in South India than in North India. In the GHDR for 2009,India is ranked number 139 out of 155 countries in GDI.
The NHDR also shows that the differences between States in HPI were quite striking. In the early 80s the poverty levels in States like Orissa, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Uttar Pradesh touched 55-60 percent, while it was around 35 percent in States such as Kerala, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. These figures have declined significantly during the 90s, but in cases of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan the decline has been marginal.
The Principles Governing the Planning Commission
 UNDP partnership for preparation of HDRs are the following:
 • Government ownership;
• Editorial autonomy;
 • Analysis and contents of the HDR should be undertaken by an independent team of experts at the behest of the State government;
• Integrity and coherence in the contents of the HDRs and addition of value to users of the HDR;
• Commitment to widespread dissemination and discussion of the State HDRs making use of a variety of methods; and
• Cost-effectiveness in the preparation of HDRs.
Importance of HDR
The Planning Commission – UNDP collaboration on human development consequently resulted in two projects, the first one aiming at developing capacity for preparing SHDRs, and the second aiming at integrating HD into State and district plans.
 The overall focus of both the projects was on creating an enabling environment for realising human development through capacity development by conducting various kinds of training activities, and by creating awareness of HD among stakeholders through advocacy and outreach.
At the UNDP India Country Office, a dedicated unit was established, consisting of a dedicated team who was responsible for guiding the overall work on human development in India. This included developing partnerships with State governments, advocacy for human development at various government and non-government fora, steering the process of preparation of State HDRs to make it more participatory exercise, developing and fostering a network of institutions and experts that could engage in HD analysis. During the second phase, human development Research and Coordination Units (HDRCU) were also set up in each partner State Planning Department/Board/ Commission to assist in the implementation of the project.
The Planning Commission - UNDP Programme “Strengthening State Plans for Human Development” (2004-2009) aimed at developing capacities at sub-national level for making planning and policy human development oriented. The specific objectives of the programme were to mainstream human development in Government policies and planning through sensitisation, advocacy and capacity development for human development analysis and action.
The ethos of planning in India has always been people centric. However, introduction of the human development paradigm ensured the centrality of human development in the growth process. This articulation which was essential in 1990s in India as the country was opening up its economy, is extremely relevant today for policy planners to continue focusing on people who may be excluded from market oriented growth.
Additionally, it is extremely essential to incorporate human development into the planning process so that people can be empowered to hold their Governments to account and Governments can be encouraged to be responsive to the needs of the people.


Tuesday, 11th Aug 2015, 04:41:11 PM

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