Dec 20 th, 2015
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A Brief Study of Human Development Index (HDI) and Where India Actually Stands

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Let’s Start With Some Facts

Countries that showed negative trend in life expectancy at birth in recent times are:
Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, France, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic and Tunisia

NOTE: It hardly matters for them because the change is hardly of 1 year and most of the countries noted above have life expectancy more than 80 years and remaining are 74+.
– Data shows that although Nepal had less life expectancy than India till 1995, but crossed India and has life expectancy more than that of India now.

HDI Comparison

NOTE: From comparison point of view I have chosen countries around India i.e. one with same conditions as that of India, some having same type of growth rate and economy like BRICS, and some highly developed countries to bring a better picture of how much we lag behind the best.


– From the figure we can see that change in HDI of India is more than any other BRICS economy, but the baseline where India has started and any other country had started also has a wide difference i.e. in 1980 Brazil was at 0.545, Russia at 0.729, South Africa at 0.569 and China was at 0.423.
– Among all the BRICS economies the most awesome growth has been showed by China i.e from 0.423 to 0.719 and now is the second largest economy of the world.
Norway, Australia and Switzerland already at top spot maintained their HDI and is above 0.9 since last decade and even more.

Brief Information About HDI

HDI or Human development Index is based on three criteria’s viz.
A. Life Expectancy
B. Education
C. Income per capita
Idea of HDI was developed by: A Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq

Step by Step Comparison of All Three Factors

Life Expectancy at Birth:

– Again Norway, Australia and Switzerland topped the league followed by China, Brazil, Russia, Pakistan, Nepal etc.
– Both Nepal and Pakistan performed well on life expectancy factor i.e. better than India in 2013.
Only South Africa has life expectancy less than India among the countries I have compared in this article in 2013.

Although, India performed well and improved the life expectancy for it’s population from 53.9 to 68 in 34 years, but still there is a long way to go i.e. to improve it to more than 80 years which the countries at the top the list currently have.

Per Capita Income

India still far behind the best because it is very far from our reach.
– Compared with BRICS economies all have PCI more than four times as that of India in 2014.

Although, India has improved and it’s per capita income has become almost four times than it was in 1980, but again comparing with the best i.e. Norway with $97K almost 20 times of than of India we still has a long journey to reach there.


Expected years of schooling remained same at 11.7 since 2011.
– Mean years of schooling also remained constant at 5.4 not changed since 2010
– Out of all the countries compared above only Pakistan has schooling years less than that of India, while rest has schooling years more than that of India.
– India doesn’t even have 12 years as expected years of schooling.
– Comparing with the best i.e. Australia which has a value of >19, Norway with 16.9; we can say that India has got a lot of scope for improvement.

Criticism against HDI

No consideration of ecological conditions of different countries
No consideration of technological development of different economies and its effect on human civilization
Lack of attention to development from a global perspective i.e. every country is looking after themselves only
– There is error problem in measurement
– As most of the people like politicians, charity donors, investors etc. refer HDI, so some critics are of the view that due to error in measurement of HDI it can misguide these people.

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