From hunger to competitiveness: Where India ranked on key social, economic indices in 2017

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On a majority of these indices, the country seems to have performed well, including the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings in which India leapfrogged 30 positions.

Over the last 12 months, there has been a lot of talk, both in India and abroad, of how much progress the country has made. The base for most of this talk was India’s performance on the various global indices that measure a country’s standing on social and economic fronts.

On a majority of these indices, the country seems to have performed well, including the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings in which India leapfrogged 30 positions. That being said, it still has a long way to cover on some of the other indices. Here’s a list of India’s performance in some of the major performance indices:

> Ease of Doing Business

In the World Bank’s Ease of doing business rankings for 2018, India jumped 30 spots from its place last year and moved into the top 100 as the government came out with a slew of economic reforms. India is also one of the 10 economies that improved the most in the areas measured by the World Bank, which ranks countries on business-friendliness, procedural ease, regulatory architecture and others.

> Global Entrepreneurship Index

India moved up one place to the 68th spot on the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI). The index featured 137 countries in all and the United States was ranked first on it. The Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) is a platform for programmes and initiatives to help new firms start and scale while working to create a global entrepreneurial ecosystem. It ranks each country based on the GEI score, which indicates overall entrepreneurship attitude and potential.

> Human Development Index

While having performed decently on most of the financial indices, India’s performance on the Human Development Index wasn’t bad either, considering it improved its ranking by four spots. The country is currently ranked 131 out of 188 countries on the HDI, thereby being classified in the ‘medium’ category, which is a significant improvement from the ‘low’ category India featured in back in the 1990s.

According to the HDI report, released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), improvement in India’s ranking shows the progress made by the nation in terms of life expectancy and mean years of schooling over the last two and a half decades. The report estimates India’s life expectancy at birth at 68.3 years, whereas mean schooling years stood at 6.3 years.

The HDI, devised and launched in 1990, is an index that ranks countries based on four metrics pertaining to human development — life expectancy, expected years of schooling, mean years of schooling, and per capita income. A country requires high scores in all the three broad indices — life expectancy, education and income — to score a higher HDI.

> Global Competitiveness Index

In 2017, India slipped one place from last year’s rankings to be ranked the 40th most competitive economy on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI). The index was topped by Switzerland. The Global Competitiveness Report, which ranks 137 economies across the world, stated that India’s score had improved across most pillars of competitiveness and the slip indicated that the Indian economy was stabilising from the big leap it took in the previous two years.

The GCI is prepared on the basis of national-level data from each country, covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness including institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.

> Global Hunger Index

On the Global Hunger Index, India slipped three spots to rank 100 out of 119 countries, indicating a “serious” hunger problem, according to the 2017 International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) report.

According to the report, the country’s serious hunger level is driven by high levels of child malnutrition and underlines the need for stronger commitment to the social sector. However, even before the report came out, the Indian government had already launched the ‘undernourishment free India’ by 2022 campaign with a view of fighting malnutrition. The plan shows stronger commitment and greater investments towards tackling malnutrition in the coming years, PK Joshi, IFPRI Director for South Asia, had said.

> Income Inequality

A number of studies were conducted in 2017 on income inequality across the globe, in which India recorded high levels of inequality with 55 percent of the country’s income being earned by only 10 percent of the population, according to the 2018 World Inequality report. The report said that income inequality in the country had grown rapidly since the 1980s. In 1982, the share of the top one percent of our population in our national income was just 6.1 percent, but by 2013, this figure had increased to 21.7 percent.

Another study conducted by the World Inequality Lab stated that income inequality in India had reached historically high levels with the top 0.1 percent of the country’s earners increasing their total wealth by more than everyone in the bottom 50 percent combined. The study also revealed that economic inequality is widespread in the country and has been growing substantially since the 1980s.

Renowned economists Lucas Chancel and Thomas Piketty have also claimed that India is currently seeing its highest income inequality since 1922 – the year the Income Tax Act was passed. In their report titled, “Indian income inequality, 1922-2014, from British Raj to Billionaire Raj?”, they state that the top 1 percent of income earners contribute 22 percent of the total economy’s income as against the only 6 percent in the early 1980s period.  Income inequality is defined as the tax amount being paid by the top 1 percent of the highest income earners, or ‘billionaires’.



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