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Ramesh Singh: Summary of Human Development in India - Indian Economy for UPSC CSE

Human Development

  • The Human Development Report 2019 released by the UNDP is titled as Beyond Income, Beyond Averages, Beyond Today: Inequalities in human development in the 21st century.
  • The annual publication ranks the countries on the human development index (HDI) on three parameters, namely standard of living, health (decided by life expectancy at birth), and attainment of knowledge .
  • As per the UNDP, this is the first of HDRs which heralded the start of a new generation of reports—pushing the boundaries to accelerate thought leadership, drive conversation on the future development, and in so doing, advance progress towards the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
  • Increasing bias: The report presents a new index indicating how 'prejudices' and 'social beliefs' obstruct gender equality, which shows that only 14 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men worldwide have no gender bias. The report notes that this indicates a backlash to women's empowerment as these biases have shown a growth especially in areas where more power is involved, including in India.
  • Inequality: The demonstrations sweeping across the world today signal that, despite unprecedented progress against poverty, hunger and disease, many societies are not working as they should. The connecting thread, is inequality.

Gender Issues

  • India has gender discrimination embedded in its social fabric. It shows up in most spheres such as access to education, to social and economic opportunities.
  • The reliance on a legal system to offer gender equality and justice, has not been built in a time dimension in the dispensation of justice. Further, dependence on schemes and programmes with inadequate coverage, outlays, inefficiencies and leakages in the delivery mechanism, the social, economic and legal condition of women shows inadequate improvement in terms of several indicators.

Privacy of Women;

  • Women and girls in India carry disproportionate burden of sanitation deficiencies in comparison to their male counterparts—which compromises with their fundamental right to privacy.
  • This can take several forms—threat to life and safety while going out for open defecation, reduction in food and water intake practices to minimize the need to exit the home to use toilets, polluted water leading to women and children dying from childbirth-related infections, among others.
  • Personal hygiene of women is for better health outcomes there is no doubt in it. But it is also needed to enjoy the freedom of having control on their bodies— the right to privacy.

The Fallouts of Population Policy:

  • The negative fallouts of pursuing a population policy that largely focuses on birth control also contributes to declining child sex ratios—if every family is to have fewer children, there is a greater anxiety that at least one of them should be male.
  • In this instance, there may be a case for the government to undo as much as to do for example, by not setting targets expected levels of achievement (ELA), withdrawing incentives for female sterilisation and for mass camps.


  • The Planning Commission used to estimate poverty using data from the large sample surveys on household consumer expenditure carried out by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) every five years.
  • It defines poverty line on the basis of monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE).
  • The methodology for estimation of poverty followed by the Planning
  • Commission has been based on the recommendations made by experts in the field from time to time—the recent estimates based on the recommendations of the Expert Group headed by Prof. Suresh D. Tendulkar which submitted its report in December 2009.

Multidimensional Poverty

  • India lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, recording the fastest reduction in the multidimensional poverty index with strong improvements in areas such as assets, cooking fuel, sanitation and nutrition.
  • The population in India living in multidimensional poverty fell down to 369 million (27.9 per cent) in 2015-16 from 640 million people (55.1 per cent) of 2005-06.


  • The focus of the Indian development planning has been on formulation of programmes and policies aimed at bringing the 'marginalised and poor sections' of society into the mainstream.
  • The government has been implementing many such programmes for social and financial inclusion. The disbursement of benefits needs a systematic channel which will provide for financial empowerment and make monitoring easier and the local bodies more accountable.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna (PMJDY) launched in August 2014 and the RuPay Card (a payment solution), are important schemes in this regard. These two schemes are complementary and will enable achievement of multiple objectives such as financial inclusion, insurance penetration, and digitalisation.
  • Accessible India Campaign The number of persons with disabilities in India constituted 2.2 per cent of the population (Census 2011). It is imperative to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity (UN Convention on rights of Persons with Disabilities).
  • Strengthening the PRIs The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments marked a watershed in the history of decentralised governance, planning, and development in India as these made panchayat bodies the third tier of government with reasonable power and authority in addition to creating space for women and marginalised groups in the federal set-up. Decentralised democracy was also extended to Fifth Schedule areas through the provisions of another Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 known as the Extension Act which not only made the gram sabha a strong body, but also put 'jal, jungle, and jamin' [water, forest, and land] under its control.


  • As per provisional results of Census 2011, the following facts regarding the Indian population dynamics are of high importance. The 2001-11 is the first decade in

independent India wherein, the population momentum coupled with declining fertility has dampened the pace of net additions to population.

As per Sample Registration System-2013 (SRS) data—

  • There has been a gradual decline in the share of population in the age group 0-14 from 41.2 to 38.1 per cent during 1971 to 1981 and from 36.3 to 28.4 per cent during 1991 to 2013.
  • On the other hand, the proportion of economically active population (15-59 years) or, India's 'demographic dividend', has increased from 53.4 to 56.3 per cent during 1971 to 1981 and from 57.7 to 63.3 per cent during 1991 to 2013.
  • On account of better education, health facilities, and increase in life expectancy, the percentage of elderly (60+) has gone up from 5.3 to 5.7 per cent and 6.0 to 8.3 per cent respectively in the same two periods.
  • The growth rate of the labour force will continue to be higher than that of the population until 2021.

According to an Indian Labour Report (Time Lease, 2007)—

  • 300 million youth will enter the labour force by 2025, and 25 per cent of the world's workers in the next three years will be Indians.
  • Population projections indicate that in 2020 the average age of India's
  • population will be the lowest in the World—around 29 years compared to 37 years in China and the United States of America, 45 years in West Europe, and 48 years in Japan.
  • Consequently, while the global economy is expected to witness a shortage of young population of around 56 million by 2020, India will be the only country with a youth surplus of 47 million (Report on Education, Skill Development and Labour Force (2013-14) Volume III, Labour Bureau, 2014).


  • The identification of the real beneficiaries is of paramount importance, for the success of any targeted approach. In line with this approach the Dr. N. C. Saxena Committee was constituted to advise on the ‘methodology for a BPL census in rural areas'.
  • Since June 2011, for the first time, a Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) is being conducted through a comprehensive 'doorto-door' enumeration in both rural and urban India, authentic information is being made available on the socio-economic condition and educational status of various castes and sections through the SECC.


  • Government elementary schools have boys' toilet.
  • Enrolment: The NSS (National Sample Survey) Report on 'Key Indicators of Household Social Consumption on Education in India 2017-18' also reflects the increased participation in education system across various indicators and highlights some challenges in terms of affordability, quality, distribution of educational infrastructure, etc.
  • Cost of education: The poor and underprivileged section of people prefer to engage themselves in economic activities for their survival. In the absence of suitable financial support system and high burden of course fee especially in higher education pushes them out of the education system.
  • Higher education: The NSS Report also throws interesting findings on the challenges faced in affordability in higher education sector. Students pursuing education in private aided institutions are spending significantly higher as compared to government institutions across rural-urban India.
  • School Education: Integrated Scheme for School Education (ISSE), i.e. 'Samagra Shiksha' was launched in 2018-19 by subsuming three erstwhile Centrally Sponsored Schemes, namely Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
  • The RTE Act, 2009 was amended in 2017 to ensure that all teachers acquire the minimum qualifications (prescribed under the Act) by 31st March, 2019 to reinforce the Government's emphasis on improvement of quality of elementary education.
  • The Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme provides for opening of one Jawahar
  • Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) in each district of the country to bring out the best of rural talent.
  • 'Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT)' was launched which aims at building a strong professional cadre of teachers by setting performance standards and creating top class institutional facilities for innovative teaching and professional development of teachers in higher education.
  • Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) was established to provide sustainable financial model for higher education institutions, Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, AIIMS and other educational institutions.
  • Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP), a 5-year vision plan (2019-24) put in place aimed at ushering 'transformation' in India's higher education system by implementing strategic interventions.
  • Some other scheme launched in 2019-20 were—SWAYAM 2.0 to offer 'online degree programmes' with enhanced features and facilities by top ranking universities; DEEKSHARAMBH, a guide to student induction programme and PARAMARSH to mentor institutions seeking NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) accreditation.


Under the Skill India Mission, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 2016-20 aims to enable large number of prospective youth to take up Short Term Training (STT) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) through empanelled training centres/training providers (TCs/TPs) throughout the country.

Reforms in Apprenticeship Rules: For expansion and outreach of Apprenticeship 

policy, a wide range of reforms have been affected by the Government in the Apprenticeship Rules, 1992— major ones are being discussed below:

  • Upper limit for engaging apprentices increased from 10 to 15 per cent of total strength of establishment;
  • Size limit of an establishment with mandatory obligation to engage apprentices decreased from 40 to 30;
  • Payment of stipend for 1st year has been fixed rather than linking it to minimum wages;
  • 10 to 15 per cent hike in stipend for 2nd and 3rd year of apprenticeship;
  • Duration of apprenticeship training for optional trade can be from 6 months to 3 years.
  • Minimum amount of stipend prescribed ranges from '5,000 per month (for school pass outs between Class 5th-9th) to '9,000 per month to graduate or degree apprentices in any stream.


  • The Government has always given priority to employment generation and employability improvement.
  • Various steps have been taken for 'generating employment' in the country like encouraging private sector of economy, fast-tracking various projects involving substantial investment and increasing public expenditure on schemes such as Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment GuaranteaScheme (MGNREGS), Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) and Deendayal Antodaya Ydjana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM).
  • Formalization of fobs: In recent times, the Government has been making efforts to formalize the economy. In this direction, several initiatives have been taken, namely— introduction of GST, digitization of payments, direct benefit transfer of subsidies/scholarships/wages & salaries to bank accounts, opening of Jan Dhan accounts, extending social security coverage to more workers.

Gender Dimension of Employment
Presence of gender equality in labour market is considered to be smart economics to achieve faster economic growth and wealth creation. Gender equality has the potential to impact upon poverty, inequality and economic well-being of a country through increase in income of the household, spending on health and education of children, improvement in saving, investment and consumption growth.

Participation in Labour Market

  • The female LFPR for productive age-group (15-59 years) as per usual status (ps+ss) has declined by 7.8 percentage points from 33.1 per cent in 2011-12 to 25.3 per cent in 2017- 18. This has increased gender disparity in India's labour market.
  • Though, female LFPR is higher in rural areas as compared to urban areas, the rate of decline was also sharper in rural areas (from 37.8 in 2011-12 to 26.6 in 2017-18) compared to urban areas (rather during 2011-12 to 2017-18, it has increased from 22.2 to 22.3).
  • Female Worker Population Ratio (WPR) also shows a similar trend. As per PLFS, female WPR for productive age group (15-59 ages) stood at 23.8 per cent (25.5 per cent in rural areas and 19.8 per cent in urban areas) in 2017-18 as compared to 32.3 percent in 2011-12.

Factors Influencing the Decline
While women account for almost half of India's population, their participation in the labour market is almost one-third as well as declining over several Survey Rounds. To understand this declining trend, the activity status of females outside the workforce was examined separately for youth (15-29 years age group) as well as for the age groups (30-59 & 15-59)

Steps to Improve Female Work Participation
Aimed at encouraging female participation in the economy, various programmes/legislative reforms have been initiated, which include— protective provisions in labour laws for creating congenial work environment for women workers such as child care centres, time-off for feeding children, enhancement in paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, provisions for mandatory creche facility in the establishments having 50 or more employees, permitting women workers in the night shifts with adequate safety measures, etc.
Safety of Women at Workplace: Under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 mandates a variety of arrangements such as—Internal Complaint Committee (ICC), Local Complaint Committee (LCC) in every district, etc.

  • Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme: This scheme aims to empower rural women through community participation—encourages community engage-ment through College Student Volunteers in 115 aspirational districts.
  • Provision of safe and affordable accommodation: To provide safe and affordable accommodation to working women, Working Women Hostels have been established, which also have day care facility for the children of inmates.
  • Women Helpline Scheme (WHL): This is a 24 hours emergency and non-emergency response service (number 181) for women affected by violence through referral and information about women related government schemes/programmes across the country.
  • One Stop Centre (OSC): This scheme facilitates access to an integrated range of services including police, medical, legal, psychological support and temporary shelter to women affected by violence. The OSC are being set up in all districts. Female Entrepreneurship: Schemes like MUDRA, Stand Up India and Mahila e-Haat (online marketing platform to support women entrepreneurs/SHGs/NGOs) have been initiated to promote female entrepreneurship.
  • Rashtriva Mahila Kosh (RMK): This apex micro-finance organization provides micro-credit at concessional terms to poor women for various livelihood and income generating activities together with promoting entrepreneurship skills to women.
  • Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP): Under the scheme, women entrepreneurs are provided 25 per cent and 35 per cent subsidies for the project set up in urban and rural areas respectively. For women beneficiaries, own contribution is only 5 per cent of the project cost while for general category it is 10 per cent. Entrepreneurs including women also get 2 weeks Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP).
  • Deendaval Antvodava Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM): It seeks to reach out to 8-9 crore rural poor households and organize one-woman member from each household into affinity-based women SHGs and federations at village and at higher levels. Support is provided for employment and self-employment ventures in farm and non-farm livelihood.
  • Women's Unpaid Work: The conventional employment and unemployment surveys have not been able to capture the various types of unpaid work that women engage in both within and outside households in rural and urban areas in India. Globally, men's share in paid work is around 1.8 times that of women, while women have a share three times that of men in unpaid work.

Additional Information:-

As on April 2022, following are some human development indices by UNDP on India;

1. The Human Development Index of India is 0.645 and the rank remains 131.

2. Life Expectancy at birth (in years) is nearly 69.7, expected years of schooling (in years) are 12.2.

3. Gross National Income (GNI per capita) is $6,681.

4. The Gender Development Index (GDI) is 0.820, with population living in multidimensional poverty nearly 27.9%.

5. Percentage of Internet users in India is 34.5% and 21.2% is the skilled labour force in the country.


The document Ramesh Singh: Summary of Human Development in India | Indian Economy for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Indian Economy for UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on Ramesh Singh: Summary of Human Development in India - Indian Economy for UPSC CSE

1. What is the concept of human development in India?
Ans. Human development in India refers to the improvement of the well-being and quality of life of its population. It encompasses various aspects such as education, healthcare, income, and standard of living, with the aim of providing individuals with opportunities to reach their full potential.
2. How is human development measured in India?
Ans. Human development in India is measured through the Human Development Index (HDI), a composite index that takes into account indicators such as life expectancy, education level, and income per capita. The HDI provides a comprehensive overview of the country's progress in terms of human development.
3. What are the key challenges to human development in India?
Ans. India faces several challenges in achieving sustainable human development. These include high levels of poverty and income inequality, inadequate access to quality education and healthcare, regional disparities, and gender inequality. Addressing these challenges is crucial for enhancing human development in the country.
4. How has human development in India improved over the years?
Ans. Human development in India has shown significant improvement over the years. There has been a gradual increase in life expectancy, literacy rates, and access to basic amenities. Poverty levels have also witnessed a decline, although challenges remain in narrowing the urban-rural divide and reducing inequality.
5. What role does government policy play in promoting human development in India?
Ans. Government policies play a crucial role in promoting human development in India. Policies focused on education, healthcare, poverty alleviation, and social welfare programs aim to provide equal opportunities and improve the well-being of the population. Additionally, measures to address infrastructure gaps and promote inclusive growth contribute to enhancing human development in the country.
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