India with an aggregate score of 58.39 is Rank 93 in SPI among the 128 countries.
Economic development and growth are one of the major factors defining the ground reality of a country. To determine this economic growth the measure used is the SPI or Social progress index.
Now a question would be lingering in one’s mind that what exactly is SPI??
The Social Progress Index is an aggregate index of social and environmental indicators that capture dimensions of social progress.
Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity are these dimensions.
The question arises here is that why SPI matters
Economic growth has lifted millions of people out of poverty.
It has improved the lives of much more over the last half-century.
Yet it is increasingly noted that a model of human development based on economic progress alone is incomplete.
A society which fails to notice basic human needs. Make citizens improve their quality of life, protect the environment, and provide an opportunity for many of its citizens. Is just not progressing.
Development requires both economic and social progress.
Drawing on 52 indicators of a country’s social performance, the SPI offers a practical tool for government and business leaders to benchmark country performance and focus on those areas where social improvement is most needed.
The data reveals that many aspects of social progress, not surprisingly, tend to improve with income growth.
Wealthier countries, generally deliver better social outcomes than lower-income countries.
An empirical kind of framework is being used by the Social Progress Imperative to create the Social Progress Index.
Now, where does India stand in this SPI battle?
India which is ranked at 93rd position performs within the expected range on a relative basis. It outperforms when compared with countries having similar GDP per capita in providing water and electricity facilities.
On an absolute level, India has moved up from the tier of “Low Social Progress” to “Lower Middle Social Progress.”
The progress is mainly driven by the advancement country has experienced in two components: Shelter and Access to Information and Communication
The liveable conditions have significantly advanced.
Affordable housing is now available to 67 percent of the population as opposed to 42 percent in 2014; there is a 14 percent fall in the deaths due to household air pollution.
Internet users have increased sharply from 12 percent in 2014 to 26 percent in 2017.
On the category of Basic Human Needs, India has seen an advancement.
Its Nutrition and Basic Medical Care has seen a significant reduction in its Maternal Mortality Rate and Child Mortality Rate.
While Maternal Mortality Rate (deaths/100,000 live births) decreased from 190 in 2016 to 174 in 2017; Child Mortality Rate (deaths/1,000 live births) reduced from 53 to 48 during the same time.
In addition to this, there has been an increased access to improved water resources and improved sanitation facilities.
Percentage of India’s population having access to piped water increased from 26 percent in 2016 to 28 percent in 2017.
In 2016, 36 percent of the population had access to improved sanitation facilities in 2017, nearly 60 percent of India’s population has access to such facilities.
Where does India lack behind?
India scores very poorly on Tolerance and Inclusion (26.36), Access to Advanced Education (32.05), Environmental Quality (47.01), Health and Wellness (55.91) and Access to Information and Communications (56.10).
With respect to specific indicators, India ranks poorly (above 100 out of 128 countries) on depth of food deficit (rank 100), access to improved sanitation facilities (rank 103), political terror (rank 113), mobile telephone subscriptions (rank 108), press freedom index (rank 102), premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (rank 100), suicide rate (rank 111), outdoor air-pollution attributable deaths (rank 125), biodiversity and habitat (rank 108), early marriage (rank 112), tolerance for immigrants (rank 110), discrimination and violence against minorities (rank 104), religious tolerance (rank 121), community safety net (rank 121), women’s average years in school (rank 103) and inequality in attainment of education (rank 110).
India only shows up in the top 10 for the number of globally ranked universities, for which it is rank 9.
As it can be clearly seen, India needs to work a lot more to improve its social and environmental indicators, despite being one of the fastest economically growing countries in the world.
India also needs to address environmental challenges to step further up in social progress ranks.
According to Sudhir Sinha, CEO of CSR Inc, “Although we have succeeded in removing from India some of the social sins such as untouchability, scavenging, child and widow marriages, and Sati Pratha, etc, we have yet to achieve equality, casteless & classless society, and greater & deeper respect for humanity. While, with GDP growth, we are progressing economically, we wrongly assume that we are progressing socially too. No, we are not. The gap between rich and poor has been increasing. Rather, we have degenerated socially on these parameters under the influence of economic progress.”
Overall, it is important for the countries to act on social challenges by designing innovative mechanisms that will help them move towards a more inclusive society.
Nevertheless, improvements made on the front of basic human needs and foundations of wellbeing have resulted in India in getting a slightly higher world ranking on the SPI 2017 compared to last year and hence are very well appreciated.