Human Development: Knowledge Indicators, Human Development Index-A State Level Analysis

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Knowledge Indicators

  • Knowledge is always considered as power that empowers human being in various ways. An individual with certain levels of knowledge will have economic freedom and will have wide choice for growth and development. Today’s society is moving towards knowledge society and a major chunk of population derived their sustenance that is based on knowledge economy. Due to these factors, knowledge was considered as one of the integral parts of human development index. But knowledge is a qualitative aspect and has many dimensions to it. In HDI two dimensions of knowledge were taken into consideration. They are adult literacy rate and combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrolment ratio.

  • According to NSSO 52nd Round (1995-96) and as reported in selected Educational Statistics (1997-98), 54.38% of adults are literate. According to the Human Development Report 2005, the adult literacy in India is 61.0% in 2003. The regional pattern of adult literacy varies considerably. It may be observed that states below the national average are Bihar (including Jharkhand), Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (including Uttaranchal), Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh), Jammu and Kashmir and Orissa. Therefore, there is a need for improvement of adult literacy in these states.

Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER)

  • It indicates the proportion between the total number of learners in a particular age group that are supposed to be in that particular class or classes and the total number of actual learners enrolled in that particular class or classes. Sometimes GER is more than 100% due to admission of below the age group and above the age group in that class or classes. In HDI, aggregate GER of primary, secondary and tertiary education is calculated.

  • According to the Economic Survey 2005-06, the GER has increased progressively from 32.1% in 1950-51 to 84.91 in 2003-04 in the age groups of 6-14 (from Ist to Vth class). Simultaneously dropout rates at primary level declined from 39.0% in 2001-02 to 31.4% in 2003-04. As on October 2005, number of out of school children, as reported by states/UTs was reduced to 95 lakhs from 320 lakh in 2001. If we look at state wise GER, it has been found that it varies from 116.77% in Manipur to 55.82% in Bihar. The states which have GER below the national average are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Nagaland.

  • To improve the educational attainment particularly enrolment and retention at elementary level and reduce the adult illiteracy Government of India has started various new programmes and also strengthened existing programmes.

Economic Indicators

  • Human development has also placed a great significance to economic productivity and growth. This provides means to progress apart from education and health. Economic growth is generally found out with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Gross National Product (GNP), per capita income, etc.

  • According to the Economic Survey 2005-06, per-capita income has increased from Rs 3,687 in 1950-51 to Rs 19,649 in 2004-05. Though per-capita income has increased significantly but disparities are very wide both at region level and local levels. Even at the rural and urban levels there exists very high disparity in per capita income. Such variation is also reflected through those persons who are below the poverty line.

  • Poverty is not only an economic phenomenon but also social and psychological deprivation. This is reflected through poor quality of life, malnutrition, low human development, etc. According to the Planning Commission estimate in 1999-2000, there were 26.10% of population living below poverty line. This ratio is 27.09% in rural areas and 23.62% in urban areas. While rural poverty is linked with landless and marginal farmers, urban poverty is expressed in terms of sprawling slums in cities. The states with population below the poverty line from the national average include Orissa, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh), Uttar Pradesh (including Uttarakhand), all the north-eastern states except Mizoram and West Bengal.

Human Development Index - a State Level Analysis

In accordance with the UNDP Human Development Report, the Planning Commission of India came out with a similar kind of report in 2001. The report analysed human development situation in major states of India which include the then undivided Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. HDI values of India as well as 16 selected major states are given below.

HDI of Developing Nations

HDI of Developing Nations

HDI of Developing Nations

India: Human Development Index of Major States, 2001

India: Human Development Index of Major States, 2001
Title: India: Human Development Index of Major States, 2001



Andhra Pradesh














Madhya Pradesh










Tamil Nadu


Uttar Pradesh


West Bengal




Source: National Human Development Report, 2001, P.25

  • If we analyse the pattern given in the above table, it is concluded that there is a north south divide barring a few exceptions. All the southern Indian states are doing well except Andhra Pradesh. On the other hand, most of northern states except Punjab and Haryana are doing badly in human development index. These northern states are given an acronym “BIMARU” (which stands for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh). Apart from north-south divide, there exists an east - west divide also. Western states like Gujarat and Maharashtra are doing fairly well in comparison to eastern states like Orissa and Assam. Both these states are below the national average. West Bengal is exactly positioned at the national average. Therefore, there is a need to pay a greater attention to those states which are not doing well in HDI. Efforts should be made in these states to improve the human development index.

  • We will now make a detailed discussion at the states’ level in India based on the development radars suggested in the National Human Development Report 2001 prepared by Planning Commission of India. Development Radars are diagrammatic representation of progress in HDI prepared, separately for rural and urban areas on eight distinct social indicators for two points of time, i.e. early 1980 and early 1990. Development Radars were constructed for all the states. The indicators have been included with a view to reflect attainments on three critical dimensions of wellbeing- longevity, education and command over resources. At the same time development radar (DR) highlights the progress in meeting out the basic human needs of accessibility to safe drinking water and shelter. The social indicators selected for the construction of Development Radars (DR) are as follows:

    • Per-capita consumption expenditure.

    • Incidence of poverty as captured by the head count ratio.

    • Access of safe drinking water.

    • Proportion of households with pucca houses.

    • Literacy rate for the age group of 7 years and above.

    • Intensity of formal education (indicators based on weighted enrolment in successive classes adjusted for non-enrolled children in the age group of 6–18 years).

    • Life expectancy at the age of one year.

    • Infant mortality rates.

The indicators scale through a magnitude from 0 to 5. Here, 0 corresponding to least achievement while 5 given to maximum achievement.

In brief, it can be said that

  • The concept of Human Development Index (HDI) was propounded by Prof Mahbub Al Haque and Prof. Amartya Sen in 1990. From 1990 onwards, Human Development Report is published by UNDP annually which reflects the status of human development in almost all the countries across the world. HDI is a composite index that measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development. They are long and healthy life, knowledge, and decent standards of living. The basic difference between economic development and human development is that economic development entirely focusses on the increase of income whereas the human development stresses in expanding and widening of all aspects of human life. Apart from HDI, various types of indices are constructed and published by UNDP. Some of the important indices are Human Poverty Index, Gender Development Index, Gender Empowered Measurement index, etc.

  • According to the Human Development Report 2005, India’s rank is 127th almost at the bottom of the table in the medium level category. The reasons which keep India at the bottom of human development are rapid increase in population, large number of adult illiterates, low gross enrolment ratio, inadequate government expenditure on education and health, large proportion of under-weight children as well as under nourished people, very poor sanitation facilities, and low access to essential lifesaving medicines etc. Therefore, there is an urgent need to improve in health situation, educational attainment, and increased standard of living and reduction of poverty level. If we look at the situation since independence to till date, we find that there has been a significant improvement. However, there has been increases in HIV/AIDS patients to check the menace of HIV/AIDS, the youngsters have been suggested to develop certain life skills. But there is a need for further improvement. To improve the situation, the Government of India has implemented many programmes such as massive project like National Rural Health Mission, Sarva Shikhsa Abhiyan, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme etc.

  • In accordance with the UNDP Human Development Report, the Planning Commission of India came out with a similar kind of Report titled “National Human Development Report.” In this report HDI of fifteen major states were calculated. The state of Kerala has highest HDI whereas the state of Bihar has the lowest HDI. Apart from that the Planning Commission has constructed Development Radar. The Development Radar is a diagrammatic representation of progress of states as a whole and for rural and urban areas separately. The Development Radar has been calculated based on eight distinct social indicators.

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