India’s human development index (HDI) has shown a steady improvement in the last couple of years. India’s ranking, however, at 127 out of 177 countries remains the same as in the previous year. The challenge before India, according to the UNDP’s Human Development Index 2004, is to manage cultural diversity. This assumes significance as the country, despite its long secular tradition, has experienced considerable communal violence in the last one decade.
According to the report, which was released by Union minister for information, broadcasting and culture S Jaipal Reddy on Thursday, Malaysia, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Vietnam rank above India. The countries which are ranked below India are Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
India’s HDI has consistently gone up from 0.411 in 1975 to 0.595 in 2002. The HDI was 0.579 in 2000. The HDI, it may be mentioned, is an index which focuses on three measurable dimensions of human development — living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a decent standard of living. The index combines measures of life expectancy, school enrollment, literacy and income to allow a broader view of a country’s development.
The 2002 report, which focuses on “Cultural liberty in today’s world”, recognises India’s vibrant multi-cultural ethos based on a strong and composite policy framework that promotes democracy and diversity. The report, UNDP resident representative Maxine Olson said, “salutes India for its multi-cultural facet.” In India there is space for state identity while maintaining a strong Central focus simultaneously, she added.
Terming the HDI 2004 a monumental contribution, Mr Reddy said that cultural liberty was important not only for peace and progress but also for the survival of mankind. “We must all learn to live together, and celebrate diversity,” the minister added.