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India Human Development Report praises Bihar
22 October 2011
NEW DELHI: Despite impressive growth, Gujarat has not been able to reduce malnourishment levels, while Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have done better in improving the lot of their marginalized Dalits and tribals. These are some of the conclusions of the India Human Development Report 2011 released by the Centre on Friday.
The report said high rates of child malnutrition were a major concern for the country. It said Gujarat was among the worst performers, with 69.7% kids up to 5 being anaemic and 44.6% suffering from malnutrition, proving that high growth was no guarantor of improvement in health.
Complimenting opposition chief ministers Nitish Kumar and Mayawati, the report said, “It is worth citing the progress achieved by two of the economically backward states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.” It went further in endorsing the brand of politics the two chief ministers have undertaken, noting that social movements have helped in better performance of deprived classes.
Overall, the human development index (HDI) for the country has improved through the last decade, with the inequality gap between states narrowing down, the report said. According to it, India’s HDI gained in the last decade-it increased by 21% from 0.387 in 1999-2000 to 0.467 in 2007-08-and the differences and inequality between the states reduced over time. The country, the HRD authors said, had witnessed an improvement in spreading education but its record on sanitation and nutrition remained dismal. Quoting a study of 2010 on Uttar Pradesh, the HDR authors said, “With high GDP and per capita growth rates in recent years, even Dalits have come to share the ‘new prosperity’. They can now be equal to the ‘general’ category people.”
On Bihar, the report said, “There is a vast difference between the Bihar of today and the Bihar of 15-20 years ago.” Not only has the state witnessed unprecedented economic growth in the 10th Plan, the per capita social sector expenditure too has increased significantly in the last five years. It noted that the share of expenditure on the welfare of Bihar’s SCs and STs to total expenditure had almost doubled during 2005-08 from 0.4% to 0.8%. However, it added that despite the improvements, the condition of the lower castes in UP and Bihar was still not comparable with those in other states. That would require greater growth and social mobilization, the report said.
Santosh Mehrotra, director-general of the Indian Applied Manpower Research and the report’s lead author, said the country was moving towards social inclusion, with social indicators of Dalits, tribals and Muslims showing vast improvement. He also said there had been a marked improvement in the performance of poorer states, indicating greater social inclusion. However, the report’s findings that the BJP-ruled states of Gujarat and Karnataka have performed poorly could stir the political cauldron.
“High incidence of malnutrition among children is found among poor states. However, Gujarat, with a relatively high per capita income, witnessed a higher incidence of child malnutrition. MP had the maximum number of chronically wasted and underweight children, followed by Jharkhand,” the report said, naming three opposition-ruled states.
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, releasing the report along with Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, did not lose the opportunity to take a dig at Gujarat and Karnataka. “On nutrition, I am puzzled as to why a high rate of malnutrition continues to persist even in pockets of high economic growth,” he said.