Each year the Human Development Report offers us a clue as to how “We The World” go about sustaining human progress. This year’s theme ‘Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience’ provides new perception on vulnerability and offers fresh ways to strengthen our resilience. The HDR covers 187 countries from all over the world and this annual publication is brought out by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The current report cites that the top five countries ranked in terms of High Development Index are Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands and the US. The bottom five in the ranking or on the Low Development Index are Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad and Sierra Leone. India ranks at 135, among the ‘medium development’ countries that include countries like Egypt, South Africa, Mongolia, Philippines and Indonesia.
Among India’s neighbors, Bhutan and Bangladesh are also covered in this category and Pakistan ranks 146 while Nepal ranks 145 and both are in the ‘low development’ category. Sri Lanka ranking 73 falls in the ‘high development’ category. The HDR states that over 200 million people were affected by natural disasters and 45 million (largest number in 18 years) were displaced by conflicts. Such factors play their own role in diminishing progress of human development.
According to income-based measures of poverty, 1.2 billion people live with $1.25 or less a day. However, according to the UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index, almost 1.5 billion people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards. And although poverty is declining overall, almost 800 million people are at risk of falling back into poverty if setbacks occur. Many people face either structural or life-cycle vulnerabilities.
The Human Development Report released today, July 24, 2014 in Tokyo says that measures have slowed down in the past few years. The human development index – a measure derived from life expectancy, education levels and incomes, barely grew from 0.700 in 2012 to 0.702 in 2013. Even this small improvement stands at risk of being reversed in the present bleak scenario of vulnerabilities facing people across the world.
Nearly 80% of the global population lacks comprehensive social protection. About half of all workers — more than 1.5 billion — work in “informal or precarious” employment. This slowdown in human development is a result of the lingering global economic crisis. The expected number of years of schooling too is not growing adequately, with 43% primary students dropping out before completing primary education worldwide. Life expectancy growth has slowed down in Asia, although there is improvement in child mortality rates in Africa.
HDR 2014 introduces a gender development index (GDI) for the first time, which measures gender development gaps among 148 countries. While the overall gender gap is an 8% deficit for women, the income gap is shockingly high — per capita income for men is more than double that for women. Tracking inequality in incomes, health and education, the report says that inequality has declined in health access, remained constant in education but increased by two percentage points with respect to income.