India has “serious reservations” about the World Bank’s new Human Capital Index, which ranked it 115 out of 157 countries
- On 11 October, the
World Bankreleased its first ever Human CapitalIndex (HCI), which measures how well countries enable the development of their human resources.
- Singapore topped the list while
Indiacame in at 115th, below Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
- India’s Ministry of the Finance criticised the report, saying that its metrics were simplistic and that it hadn’t taken a number of government programmes into consideration.
The goal of the report is to get finance ministers to think beyond short-term election cycles and focus more on children by allocating higher funds to healthcare and skill development. The World Bank hopes the index will become as popular as its Ease of Doing Business index.
The HCI report assessed 157 countries on a number of indicators, ranging from child mortality, nutrition and stunting, average years of schooling and harmonised test scores. Each country was assigned a score from 0 to 1, with 1 denoting the best health and education outcomes possible.
The list was led by Asian countries. Singapore came first, owing to the strength of its universal healthcare system, followed by South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. Finland came fifth while the US came 24th. The bottom of the list was predominantly rounded out by African countries - Chad, South Sudan and Niger. Critics of the report said that it was an exercise in shaming developing countries for not investing enough in people.
India came in at a lowly 115th, even below the likes of its smaller neighbours Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The report predicted that children in India would only be 44% as productive in adulthood compared to a scenario where all their education and health requirements were met.
As expected, the Indian government wasn’t happy with the results of the report. In a press release, the Ministry of Finance said that it had “serious reservations” about the way the index had been compiled.
The finance ministry explained that the World Bank had failed to take into account the government’s various development initiatives like the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, which focuses on all 13 years of schooling and merges three separate public education schemes, and the recently-launched Ayushman Bharat health insurance programme.
It also said that schemes like the Aadhar programme, the largest biometric identification scheme in the world, and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, which aims to give every unbanked citizen a formal bank account, had gone a long in way in enabling financial inclusion and social protection.
The government also said that metrics of the HCI were “simplistic” and “ignorant of development realities” and that the data used to gauge the quality of education was outdated. The statement concluded on a defiant note with the government saying that it planned to ignore the index.
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