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Human Development Index 2022 - South Asia – A Review


The 2021/2022 Human Development Report has now been published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


As per HDI per se countries are divided into four categories - (1) Very High Human Development; (2) High Human Development; (3) Medium Human Development; and (4) Low Human Development.


Analysis of HDI South Asian Countries


South Asian countries do not figure in the first category of very high human development.

Sri Lanka and the Maldives are two countries that are categorised under High Human Development, while India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar are under Medium Human Development.


On the other hand, Pakistan and Afghanistan are under the low human development category.


Except for Pakistan, every country on the list ranked differently than the previous year.


Countries such as India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Afghanistan have attained a ranking lower than their previous year's rankings. In contrast, countries such as Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Nepal have achieved higher ranks than their previous year's ranks.


Brief of Report


The UNDP has been publishing these reports since 1990, “as independent and analytically and empirically grounded discussions of major development issues, trends and policies”.

The report is titled, “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World,” thus indicating the challenges that people are facing across the World. Here we carry out a comparative as well as country wise review of the HDI for South Asian countries including Myanmar.


The HDI 2021-22 is a composite index measuring average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development—a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. The details of calculation of the HDI are as at Appendix.


Country wise Review


A review of the HDI for South Asian countries is as given below based on ranking in descending order-


Sri Lanka has been placed under the high development category with the HDI value of 0.782 with a rank of 73, being the highest among the South Asian countries. The higher HDI value can be attributed to the life expectancy rate of 76.4 years. Sri Lanka’s expected years of schooling stand at 14.1 years and the mean years of schooling are at 10.8 years. The GNI per capita level is $12,578. From the contemporary perspective collapse of the Sri Lankan economy in 2022 and the political crisis is not reflected in the HDI Index as these are not measured.


Maldives has been placed under the high development category with the HDI value of 0.747 with a rank of 90, being the 2nd highest among the South Asian countries. The HDI value can be attributed to the life expectancy rate of 79.9 years. Maldives’ expected years of schooling stand at 12.6 years and the mean years of schooling are at 7.3 years. The GNI per capita is $15,448. While the GNI per capita is higher than that of Sri Lanka education parameters have led to a lower score.


Bhutan has been placed under the medium human development category with an HDI value of 0.666 with a rank of 127. The HDI value can be attributed to the life expectancy rate of 71.8 years. Bhutan’s expected years of schooling stand at 13.2 years and the mean years of schooling are at 5.2 years. The GNI per capita level is $9,438. Note the low mean years of schooling, thus education upliftment is the way ahead.


Bangladesh has been placed under the medium human development category with an HDI value of 0.661 with a rank of 129. The HDI value can be attributed to the life expectancy rate of 72.4 years. Bangladesh’s expected years of schooling stand at 12.4 years and the mean years of schooling are at 7.4 years. The GNI per capita level is $5,472.


India has been placed under the medium development category with an HDI score of 0.633 with a rank of 132. The HDI value can be attributed to the life expectancy rate of 67.2 years. India’s expected years of schooling stand at 11.9 years and the mean years of schooling are at 6.7 years. The GNI per capita level is $6,590.


Nepal has been placed under the medium development category with an HDI score of 0.602 with a rank of 143. The HDI value can be attributed to the life expectancy rate of 68.4 years. Nepal’s expected years of schooling stand at 12.9 years and the mean years of schooling are at 5.1 years. The GNI per capita level is $3,877.


Myanmar has been placed under the medium development category with an HDI score of 0.585 with a rank of 149. The HDI value can be attributed to the life expectancy rate of 65.7 years. Myanmar’s expected years of schooling stand at 10.9 years and the mean years of schooling are at 6.4 years. The GNI per capita level is $3,851.


Pakistan has been placed under the low development category with an HDI score of 0.544 with a rank of 161. The HDI value can be attributed to the life expectancy rate of 66.1 years. Pakistan’s expected years of schooling stand at 8.7 years and the mean years of schooling are at 4.5 years. The GNI per capita level is $4,624.


Afghanistan has been placed under the low development category with an HDI score of 0.478 and a rank of 180. The HDI value can be attributed to the life expectancy rate of 62.0 years. Afghanistan’s expected years of schooling stand at 10.3 years and the mean years of schooling are at 3.0 years. The GNI per capita level is $1,824.


Trends Review 1990 - 2021



The United Nations Development Programme Report 2021-22, which gives out the Human Development Index for the year also comes with numerous indices and tables for a better understanding of the trends for the specific country.


Sri Lanka


As trends for the years 1990-2021 can be observed, Sri Lanka’s HDI score has consistently increased from 0.636 in the year 1990 to 2021 with a score of 0.782. Therefore, the improved position in rank by 9 can also be ascertained. However, Sri Lanka projected decreasing rate of growth trend from the years 1990-2000 with 0.79% Average Annual HDI growth, years 2000-2010 with 0.69% and 0.54% growth rate for the period 2010-2021. Thus, projecting an overall 0.67% rate of HDI growth for the period 1990-2021.


Maldives


The trend for the Maldives suggests that the HDI value for the country for consequent years has been increasing since the year 2000 with 0.628 scores till 2019 with a 0.755 score. However, the country witnessed a little dip a year after 2020 with an HDI value of 0.734 due to a widespread pandemic. Even then, Maldives was able to improve its value from that to 0.747 in the year 2021. Thus, the country was able to improve its position on overall rank by 6 places as well. Though, the average HDI growth of the trend has been decreasing from 0.92% (2000-2010) to 0.75% (2010-2020).


Bhutan


As the trend goes for Bhutan, the country witnessed an increasing HDI value from 2010 with a 0.581 score to the year 2019 with 0.671 scores. The pandemic year was difficult for the country, thus, it saw a decreasing value for the next two years with 0.668 (2020) and 0.666 (2021). However, being a country placed under the medium human development category in a recent year, Bhutan was able to improve its overall rank by 6 positions. From the table given above, the positive average HDI growth of 1.25 for the period 2010-2020 can be observed easily.


Bangladesh


The trend for Bangladesh has been impressive. The county has an increasing trajectory for the HDI value since 1990 with a score as low as 0.397 with a recent value of 0.661 for the year 2021, which is even higher than the biggest economy in the region like India. The country was also able to improve its overall rank by positive 11 positions. However, the overall average HDI growth trend for the country has been marked as a decreasing rate of growth in the first two decades with 2.02% (1990-2000), 1.32% (2000-2010) and followed by an increasing trend with 1.64% for the period 2010-2020. Therefore, the country was able to maintain an overall average HDI growth rate of 1.66% (1990-2021).


India


The largest democracy and the biggest economy in the region, India witnessed an increasing trend for the HDI value in years from 1990 with 0.434 scores till the year before the pandemic hit in 2019 with 0.645 scores, maintaining the same value as the previous year 2018.


The dip in the next two years with a score of 0.642 (2020) and 0.633 (2021) can be attributed to the national lockdown to curb the widespread infection in the country while the world witnessed a pandemic.


This has also affected the country’s rank as it slipped the position by 1 place. India has post-liberalisation witnessed an increasing rate of average annual HDI growth for next two decades with 1.24% (1990-2000) and 1.59% (2000-2010). However, it paced slowly with 0.88% for the next decade of 2010-2020, while maintaining an overall rate of 1.22% for the period 1990-2021.


Nepal


As per the data, the HDI value trend for Nepal had been increasing till the country was hit by the pandemic. The country recorded the value as low as 0.399 in 1990, while it paced up the subsequent years till 2019 with an HDI value of 0. 611. However, the Pandemic year took away numbers with 0.604 scores in the year 2020 and continued the trend with an HDI value of 0.602 in a recent 2021. Yet, the Himalayan nation improved its overall HDI rank by 4 positions. Nepal also faced a declining trend in the Average Annual HDI Growth with 1.59% (1990-2000), 1.52% (2000-2010) and 0.94% (2010-2020). Thus, it maintained an overall Average Annual HDI Growth for the period 1990-2021 at 1.34 %.


Myanmar


The trend for Myanmar has also been increasing even though it passed the pandemic year without any loss in numbers unlike other countries in the region. The country witnessed a slow and steady rise in HDI value since 1990 with a 0.333 score till before the military took over the reins of the state in 2020 with a 0.600 HDI value. 2021 was the year when the military coup took place and the country went under military rule, the HDI value has been marked by a slight decline at 0.585 (2021).


Not only this the country also managed to improve its overall rank by one position. Observing the decade-wise trend of Average Annual HDI growth, the first two decades saw an increasing trend with 2.10% (1990-2000) and 2.21% (2000-2010), this has been the second highest growth rate after Afghanistan for the specified decade. However, the following decade, that is 2010-2020 witnessed a sharp declining HDI growth rate which is 1.26%. Thus, the HDI growth rate for the overall period (1990-2021) came to 1.83%.


Pakistan


The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has witnessed a positive trend since 1990 in its HDI value from 0.400 till the year 2019 with a score of 0.546 when the pandemic hit the world. However, the trend took a downward slope in the next year with a 0.543 score in 2020 and a slight increase in 2021 with an HDI value of 0.544. The country has been placed under the low human development category along with Afghanistan in the South Asian region.


Thus, it also lost the overall rank by two positions from the previous year's rank. Further analysing the decade-wise trend, the annual average HDI growth noted an increasing trend from the first decade for the observed period of 1990-2000 to 2000-2010. The growth rate went from 0.98% to 1.36%. While it took a dip the following decade (2010-2020) with 0.68%. Thus, the country maintained an overall average annual HDI growth for the period 1990-2021 at 1.00%.


Afghanistan


Afghanistan ranked the lowest among the South Asian countries, yet the country witnessed an increasing trend in HDI value since 1990 from a score as low as 0.273 to a score of 0.488 in the year 2019. The pandemic year was devastating for the country and its declining HDI value from 0.483 in 2020 to 0.478 in 2021. The country not only witnessed a pandemic to its impending crisis, but it also witnessed a state failure when American troops left the country abruptly in August previous year to find itself ruled by the Taliban.


Thus, Afghanistan has also ended up losing 5 places in the overall ranking among the countries after being placed under the low human development category. As the decade-wise trend for Average Annual HDI growth goes, the country observed an increase in the first two decades with 2.07% (1990-2000) and 2.95% (2000-2010). This was followed by a sharp declining growth rate of 0.59% for the period 2010-2020. Thus, Afghanistan was able to maintain an overall 1.82% of Average Annual HDI Growth for the period 1990-2021.


Appendix

Human Development Index (HDI): A composite index measuring average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development—a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. See how the HDI is calculated here.


Life expectancy at birth: Number of years a new born infant could expect to live if prevailing patterns of age-specific mortality rates at the time of birth stay the same throughout the infant’s life.


Expected years of schooling: Number of years of schooling that a child of school entrance age can expect to receive if prevailing patterns of age-specific enrolment rates persist throughout the child’s life.


Mean years of schooling: Average number of years of education received by people ages 25 and older, converted from education attainment levels using official durations of each level.


Gross national income (GNI) per capita: Aggregate income of an economy generated by its production and its ownership of factors of production, less the incomes paid for the use of factors of production owned by the rest of the world, converted to international dollars using PPP rates, divided by midyear population.

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