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Why did Human Development fail to keep pace with economic development in India? | UPSC 2023 General Studies Paper 1 Mains PYQ


Why did Human Development fail to keep pace with economic development in India?

(UPSC 2023 General Studies Paper 1 (Main) Exam, Answer in 150 words)


As per the economic survey of India 2022-23, India is now 5th largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP and is the third largest in the world in terms of purchasing power parity ( PPP) GDP. However, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report 2021-22, India ranks 132 out of 191 countries in the Human Development Index, behind Bangladesh (129) and Sri Lanka ( 73).

The gap between human development and economic development in India can be attributed to various factors-

Economic inequality: 

India has substantial income and wealth inequality. This disparity hampers the distribution of benefits across different population segments, hindering overall human development. According to the World Inequality Report, the top 10 % of India's population hold 57 % of the national income. Economic growth in India needs to be more inclusive to reduce economic inequality.

Social and Cultural Factors:

Caste-based discrimination and gender inequality in India prevent equal access to opportunities and resources. This has limited the potential for holistic human development.

Education Disparities:

Although India has made progress in expanding access to education, disparities persist in terms of quality and access. Unequal educational opportunities hinder the development of human capital and skills.

Healthcare Challenges:

Poor healthcare infrastructure and limited access to health services for the poor contribute to health disparities, impacting overall human development.

Rural-Urban Divide:

Urbanization and economic growth do not improve living conditions and opportunities in rural regions, affecting the overall human development index.

Insufficient Job Creation in the manufacturing sector and dependency on agriculture:

Insufficient job creation affects livelihood and human development. About 45 % of the Indian workforce is working in the agriculture sector, which contributes only 15 % of the Country's GDP. 

Regional Disparity:

There is a wide gap in development disparities in regions. For example, Southern States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka have better human development as compared to northern states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Lack of Social Security:

About 90 % of the workforce work in the informal sector and they lack social security which limits their ability to access the quality of education and health services.

In conclusion, we can say India has well performed in many aspects of economic development, however, it fails to translate economic development into human development due to many factors which include income inequality, regional disparities, rural-urban divide, and lack of social security. Addressing these challenges requires a holistic approach that focuses on inclusive economic growth, social justice, quality education and healthcare, and sustainable development. 

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