People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 41

October 11, 2009


HDR 2009: Whither Inclusive Growth?


THE United Nations Development Programme's annual Human Development Report (HDR 2009) has been released confirming our worst fears. India continues to slide downwards from a rank of 126  to 128 and now to a rank of 134 out of 182 countries during the last three years, on the basis of the Human Development Index (HDI). India is now sandwiched between Laos and the Solomon Islands.


The data base of this report is that of 2007. This is important to note as the ruination of millions of people globally, many more in developing countries, due to the worst capitalist crisis leading to the current global recession is not captured in this report.


Despite this, the HDR 2009 confirms what we have been stating in these columns in the past: the neo-liberal globalisation process has acutely worsened economic inequalities between the rich and the poor countries and between the rich and the poor in every country. The consequent decline in the purchasing power in the hands of the vast majority of the world's population, as we have repeatedly analysed in the past, is the basic cause, amongst others, that led to the global meltdown with snowballing defaults in the repayment of sub-prime loans. The global economy, turbocharged through cheap credit, could never be sustainable in the face of sharply declining purchasing power of the people. HDR 2009 for instance shows that Norway ranked number one has an average income which is 85 times higher than the average income in the Niger that is ranked at the bottom at 182. Consequently, a child born in Norway is likely to live 30 years longer than one born in Niger.


The main focus of HDR 2009 is on the issue of migration both internationally and amongst individual countries. It brings out many interesting insights that merit a separate treatment. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that international migration is estimated to be 214 million or 3.1 per cent of the world's population while 740 million migrate within their own countries. Only a little over a third (37 per cent) of international migration is from developing to developed countries, belying the popular perception. Around 60 per cent migrate between the countries of the same levels of development. The report also reveals that India has been receiving annual remittances of $35.3 billion despite its immigration rate of 0.8 per cent, which is less than one-third of the global trend. However, translated into per capita terms it works out to only $30 as compared to $131 for Sri Lanka.


Returning to India's performance this report negates the expectations generated by the euphoria of a high growth trajectory in the recent decade. All grandeur of an 'emerging economy' rubbing shoulders with the 'mighty' at the G-20 high table simply evaporates when the hard data of HDR 2009 is confronted. In a way this only confirms that the benefits of economic growth in India have been confined to a few of the 'shining' India while the rest are consigned to the 'suffering' India.


Further, the HDI rankings show that India is six rungs lower than its ranking as per per capita income based on purchasing power parity (PPP). Compare this with our neighbouring countries where the HDI ranking is considerably higher than their per capita income ranking. In Bangladesh, it is nine rungs higher, China 10, Sri Lanka 14, Nepal 21 and Myanmar (Burma) 29. This once again confirms that the benefits of higher growth have only been confined to a few and has not contributed to the rise in the overall quality of life for the vast masses of our people. The hiatus between 'shining' and 'suffering' India is indeed widening.


Five countries rose three or more places in the HDI ranking compared to last year. Amongst these, China rose to the maximum jumping seven places ahead to 92. Amongst the others, the anti-US neo-liberal progressive governments in Venezuela and Peru have seen significant improvement in the quality of life of their people. The remaining two are France and Col