Alex Thomas, Desicritics.org
The Human Development Report for the year 2006 has been released. This year's HDI refers to 2004. India has moved one step up to be ranked 126 among a total of 159 countries. [Last year India was ranked 127] India's HDI rank falls under the category of 'medium human development countries'.
The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary level) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income). The index is not in any sense a comprehensive measure of human development. It does not, for example, include important indicators such as inequality and difficult to measure indicators like respect for human rights and political freedoms. What it does provide is a broadened prism for viewing human progress and the complex relationship between income and well-being. Read more on HDI here.
Norway is ranked first in this year's HDR report, while the USA is ranked 8th, Japan 7th, China 81st and Pakistan 134th. And Nigeria is ranked last at 159.
India: Human Development [A few indicators]
1) HDI Rank: 126
2) The population below income poverty line of 2$ per day is 79.9%, though as per the national poverty line it is 28.6%.
3) The HPI (Human Poverty Index) for the 102 developing countries rank India at 55.
4) The Annual Population growth rate is pegged at a rate of 1.3%. [2004-15]
5) The Public health expenditure of India as a percentage of GDP is 1.2%, while that of the private is 3.6%. 
6) The percentage of total population who are undernourished is 20%. [2001/03]
7) Life expectancy at birth: 63.1 [2000-05]
8] Infant mortality rate per 1000 live births: 62 
9) The public expenditure on Education as a per cent of GDP is 3.3% [2002-04] which has fallen from 3.7% in 1991.
"Only 25% of the poorest households in developing countries have access to piped water in their homes as compared to 85% of the richest households." Says HDR 2006.
The same report states that only 14% of people in India lack access to an improved water source. This implies that 86% of people in India have access to improved water, thereby rendering India almost in par with developed countries in terms of access to an improved water source. This figure has been definitely deflated. One of the major reasons for this deflated figure is due to lack of adequate and complete statistics.
The HDI alone or the GDP alone cannot give the real picture of any economy. Both the HDI and the GDP do not take into account the inequalities. India is a country which is characterised by stark inequalities in wealth, income, education, health, land etc. India is the land of the billionaires as well as people who go hungry everyday and the land where little children are forced to work.
The authorities' rhetoric of trickle down effects of an 8% GDP will not work, due to lack of proper institutions to cater to the needs of the poor. Microfinance, an institution which is working needs to be implemented more effectively and in a transparent manner, because the misuse of Microfinance institutions can lead to more trouble than not having them at all.
The main focus of this year's HDR is on the Water Crisis which is plaguing countries both developed and developing alike. Adverse effects of pollution, increased green house gases can be witnessed in unanticipated floods and droughts plaguing many countries. And in the last few years, we had to face the Tsunami which wreaked havoc. According to Developments, "97% of all the deaths from natural disasters are in poor countries".
The Indian populace has been repeatedly told that India is reducing its poverty and that it is well under 30%. They are right. Keeping in mind the needs of the people for a decent livelihood a family needs at least an income of 2000 rupees per month!
On the whole, there is nothing in the report that makes India proud. India needs to step up its expenditure specifically targeting education and health sectors. The draft to the 11th 5 year plan, speaks about inclusive growth, but adequate emphasis has not been given to sectors which need development.