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HDI Index gap-and a simple idea to start plugging it

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Modi sarkar 2.0 has started out with more than a few bangs, within the first 100 days of it coming to power. Article 370 revocation, UAPA law amendment, mega bank mergers, IBC amendments are just some of the few to name.

One core feature that differentiates Modi govt from all previous (even Vajpayee govt) is the setting of clear, well-defined, and more importantly, well publicized goals. One such goal, dare I say ambitious, is the 5 trillion $ economy goal.

However, there still remains a crucial gap that is not yet being addressed, and that is the HDI index. HDI, for those who dont know, stands for Human development Index. You can read more about HDI here . To put it simply, the index was designed to ensure that countries simply don’t focus on improving wealth, but also social equality of the nation.
It is composed of these parameters

  • Life expectancy
  • Education
  • PPP per capita

Lets take a simple example. Two countries X and Y, both have 100$ GDP wealth. However, in country X the majority of citizens don’t have access to good sanitation and hygiene, which results in lower life expectancy. Country X then will have lower HDI than country Y.

As per the last 2018 rankings of HDI as per UN, India stands at a not-impressive 130, ranked below countries like Palestine (119), Libya (108), and much below mainland China (86). Trends show that India HDI ranking has improved by about a measly 2 ranks from 2012-2017

To be fair, HDI improvement is a long-haul game. Countries don’t magically improve HDI rankings by double digits, since it requires an entire overhaul of the society as a whole, but that is exactly why India & Modi sarkar should be chasing this.

As a layman, there are some immediate steps I would like to suggest that can nudge India towards breaking out of the low-ranking HDI countries. Note that I deliberately left out “Govt should do this” from my list of ideas, since Govt can only do so much.

Meal schemes for pregnant mothers in urban areas : About 50% of mothers in India are anaemic as per researches, and hopefully a scheme which delivers iron fortified food for free, will help. This also directly ties into the fact that India has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of malnourished kids in the world. After all, if the mother is weak , can the child really have a healthy life ?

There already exists “Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana” for direct cash transfer to expectant mothers, but it might be worth considering the idea of also sending direct meals to expectant mothers in low-income households through the help of food delivery services like swiggy & zomato.

By roping in private players, we get 2 things, first the logistics, second the CSR for the companies. Private companies in India are also eager to make a social impact in this social age, and a scheme where customers can pay some 1-5% additional money for the meal scheme will definitely reach millions in urban centers. PM Modi has shown a remarkable ability to galvanize millions of people with just 1 speech (e.g. giving up the LPG subsidy) , and with right Govt push, at least we can start tackling the problem of stunted & malnourished kids at its core.

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