Karnataka Human Development Index

Karnataka Human Development Index “Karnataka has been a pioneer among Indian States in the matter of paying attention to human development at the State and District levels. The first State Human Development Report for Karnataka was published in 1999. Karnataka is also the first State to bring out individual District Human Development Reports for all its 30 districts.”


Concept of Human Development

The landscape of development theory, practice and policies, and measurement of development at national, state and district level have undergone far reaching changes ever since the publication of Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1990. Prior to the emergence of human development as a key approach to improve the quality of life, the focus of development paradigm was on materialistic progress, taking growth with equity and social justice for granted.

The economic growth model based on “trickle-down” mechanism focused on physical aspects of savings, investment and economic growth until 1970s. A mere increase in national income or output did not guarantee an improvement in the quality of people’s life in general and weaker sections of the society in particular. Amidst high rates of economic growth, human poverty, social exclusion, vulnerability, gender discrimination, crimes, etc., continues to be widespread and persistent among different sections of the society.

Hence, the focus of development shifted from economic growth based on “trickledown mechanism” to economic development based on “basic needs approach” in the 1980s and to human development based on “capability approach” in the early 1990s.Karnataka Human Development Index

Human development approach, as developed by Amartya Sen and Mahbub ulHaq, which puts people at the centre of the development, considers economic growth as a means to development, but not merely an end in itself. Therefore, human development is definedas a process of enlarging people’s choices as well as raising the level of wellbeing already achieved. Income earning is one of the choices but it is not the sum of all choices. Attainment of better education, health, physical environment and equalization of opportunities to participate in political, social and economic domains of life, freedom to exercise their rights, personal self-respect, etc., are also as important as income. These choices can be infinite and can vary over space and time.


Key Components of Human Development Index


Factors Contributing to Human Development

Human Development is a multivariate phenomenon. It encompasses several aspects of life. Human development is more than HDI. As depicted above, the HDI includes only three essential choices, namely a decent standard of living, long and healthy life and to be able to gain knowledge. There are several factors which contribute to human development in different ways. Most of the factors that drive human development are inter-related and reinforcing with each other.

The most important factors that contribute to human development are:

  • The livelihood and income earning options;
  • reduction in poverty and inequality;
  • access to household assets and amenities;
  • access to food and nutrition;
  • access to health and medical care services;
  • education, training and skills;
  • migration and urbanisation, good governance and participation;
  • environmental conservation; and
  • human rights and protection


National-Human Development Report

Following the UNDP’s methodology, the Planning Commission, Government of India has published the National Human Development Report (NHDR) for the first time in 2001 and the India Human Development Report (IHDR) in 2011 at the state level in India. Although the methodology to calculate the HDI and other indices at national level is similar to UNDP, the indicators identified to estimate the indices at the sub-regional levels are different depending upon the availability of data.


State Human Development Report

In India, the preparation of HDRs has begun with the publication of the Madhya Pradesh HDR in 1995. It is the first sub-national HDR in the world and the second report was published in 1998 and the third in 2002. Karnataka was the second state to publish the Karnataka Human Development Report (KHDR) first in 1999 and the second in 2005.

Immediately after, other State Governments such as Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Punjab, Orissa, Gujarat, etc., have also initiated the preparation of their State HDRs. These reports attempt to assess intra-State disparity in progress of human development and provide policy interventions for further development.


District Human Development Report

The District Human Development Report (DHDR) aims at estimating inter-taluk disparity in different dimensions of human development and identifying the developmental gaps to be addressed at the district level and also across different taluks in the district. Preparation of DHDR provides a sound base for designing and implementing district plans from the human development point of view and also for proper allocation of funds.

In this regard, the Idukki district Panchayath in Kerala state was the first to publish the DHDR of Idukki district in 2000. Following the initiation made by Kerala state, a good number of districts in India began to prepare a DHDR with the assistance of the Planning Commission and UNDP. The DHDRs of Bankura (2006), Malda (2007), Birbhum and many others in West Bengal were also other comprehensive reports with sub-district level analysis.

The Karnataka state also brought about the DHDRs for four districtsin the first phase, namely Vijayapura, Kalaburagi, Mysuru and Udupi in 2008. The main objectives of these reports were to capture variations in the status of human development at the district level; enable the Government to take a holistic view of the State’s development outside the normal governmental functioning and assess the strengths and weaknesses of existing departmental policies.

The unique features of these DHDRs are the wider coverage of human development and its related issues, uniform computational methodology, indicators and time period adopted, issue based small area studies and radar analysis.


Rationale for Human Development Report in Karnataka

Introduction of micro level planning and PRI system and the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments mandate the preparation of district level plans. The premier objectives of the DHDRs are to:

  • capture variations in status of human development at the District and Taluk level;
  • enable the local government to take holistic view of the state’s development outside the normal governmental functioning;
  • integrate human development objectives such as larger inflow of funds to low human development regions in policy formulation;
  • focus on specific local issues of human development such as malnutrition, and livelihood expansion;
  • assess impact of programmes on specific issues of human development at the District level;
  • provide an opportunity for preparing district plans from a human development perspective;
  • assess the strengths and weaknesses of the existing departmental policies
  • formulate Special Development Plan (SDP) and comprehensive composite development index;
  • develop awareness among the official and non-official leaders at the district and below about the Millennium Development Goals and accordingly design and execute the public policies.


Grama Panchayath Human Development Index Report

The preparation of Grama Panchayath Human Development Index (GPHDI) Report is an important event which provides guidelines for grassroots level human development. For the first time in the history of the country the Government of Karnataka has initiated the process of computing the Grama Panchayath Human Development Index based on the same set of indicators that were used in the preparation of District Human Development Report.



Economic growth, as defined by GDP per capita, is found to be inadequate to measure quality of life and human well-being. Human Development approach is more than economic growth (national income). Human development is the process of enlarging the people’s choices. Fundamental to enlarging these choices is building human capabilities-the range of things that a person can do or be in life. The most basic capabilities for human development are to lead a long and healthy life, to be knowledgeable, to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able to participate in the life of the community and decision affecting their lives. Without these, many choices are simply not available, and many opportunities in life remain inaccessible.

Preparation of HDI covering different domains of life and sectors of the economy at Grama Panchayath level is indeed a unique exercise that the Government of Karnataka has initiated. It would be an important yardstick to identify the absolute and relative backwardness in the areas such as education, health, livelihood expansion, standard of living, child development, gender equality, all of which are aimed at improving the standard of living in rural areas. It is quite useful, which helps in designing and implementing the well-conceived plans at the Grama Panchayath level. The report can also be a base for allocation of funds under different programmes implemented depending upon the backwardness of Grama Panchayaths.

This also helps in fine-tuning the existing programmes or introducing the new innovative schemes for development of a particular domain (health, education or livelihood opportunities), which is lagging in a particular Grama Panchayath. For the policy makers and development practitioners, these indices provide handy tools to give policy direction for further human development.

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