India: Towards the Millennium Development Goals

2003 Occasional Paper
By Bajpai, Nirupam

India’s performance vis-à-vis human development has been mixed in the last decade. A high and sustainable rate of economic growth in the post reform period has reduced the number of people below the poverty line. Literacy rates have not only continued their trend rise but there has been a decline in the absolute number of illiterates for the first time. Population health, however, remains an area of neglect. Health indicators, while recording improvements over time, point to alarmingly high rates of malnutrition and mortality, especially among women and children, and widespread lack of access to medical care. Literacy rates have shown remarkable improvement in India in the last decade, both for males and females. Total literacy rates increased from 52% in 1991 to 66% in 2001, with male literacy rates increasing from 64% to 76% and female literacy rates increasing from 39% to 54%. The most heartening aspect of India’s educational stride forward is the improvements recorded by the educationally backward states, especially the state of Madhya Pradesh.