New Delhi: The government has raised “serious reservations” over the first Human Capital Index (HCI) compiled by the World Bank as part of the World Development Report 2019. India is ranked at 115 position in the index with its score of 0.44 on a scale of 0 to 1 coming even below the average score for South Asia. In a strongly worded statement the finance ministry has questioned HCI that ranked Singapore on top with a score of 0.88. “There are serious reservations about the advisability and utility of this exercise of constructing HCI. There are major methodological weaknesses, besides substantial data gaps,” the ministry said. HCI, which covered 157 countries, seeks to measure the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18. The index values convey the productivity of the next generation of workers, compared to a benchmark of complete standard education and full health. It has three components – survival, expected years of quality-adjusted school, and health environment. Published at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group in Bali Nusa Dua, Indonesia, on Thursday, the Human Capital Index showed that for 56% of the world’s population HCI score is at or below 0.50; and for 92% it is at or below 0.75. This implies that only 8% of the global population can expect to be 75% as productive as they could be. In the case of India, given its score of 0.44, a child born today will be only 44% as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health. The index shows learningadjusted years of school at an average of only 5.8 years and total expected years of school at 10.2 years. On the harmonised test scores matrix, students in India score 355 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment. Probability of survival to age 5 is 96 out of 100. It finds 38 out of 100 children are stunted, and so are at risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime. The government has rejected the findings, saying it does not reflect the key initiatives that are being taken for developing human capital in the country, such as Samagra Shiksha, Ayushman Bharat Programme, Swachh Bharat Mission, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jandhan Yojana and the Aadhaar identification system-enabled direct cash transfer, that have improved governance and social protection. “These initiatives are transforming human capital in India at a rapid pace and very comprehensively touching upon the lives of millions of people living in rural and tribal areas,” the finance ministry statement said. “The qualitative aspects of improved governance that have a strong correlation with human capital development cannot be and have not been captured by the way the HCI has been constructed,” it said. “The Government of India, therefore, has decided to ignore the HCI,” the statement said.
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