Nepal Is the Country With the Lowest Human Development Index (HDI) in Asia

Nancy B. Alston

Nepal falls among the group of countries with the least HDI (Human Development Index) owing to the poor economic condition of the nation. According to the annual report published by United Nation Development Program (UNDP)’s 20th Human Development Report (HDR), Nepal’s HDI for the year 2010 is 0. 458. Although Nepal is one of the rapidly developing countries with respect to the increasing trend followed by the HDI, it is still not enough. The 0.458 HDI gives Nepal a rank of 157 out of 187 countries with comparable data.

“The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of “human development” and distinguish “very high human development”, “high human development”, “medium human development”, and “low human development” countries. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to distinguish whether the country is a developed, a developing or an under-developed country, and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life.” – Wikipedia

Going by this definition, low HDI for Nepal could mean low life expectancy, wide ranging illiteracy and low standards of living among Nepalese. While the root cause of all this is the low economic condition of the people. Despite having enough natural resources and much scope for development, the country lags behind. The major factor responsible could be the decade long armed violence Nepal recently faced. Also, a large chunk of the population is not literate and still follows the age old subsistence farming techniques instead of profit oriented technological farming. This trend owes a lot to the country’s halted economic growth which in turn, halts the nation’s HDI rise to its full potential.

The HDI ranking by United Nations Development Program has not only helped Nepal to see its position but also to plan on suitable measures ought to be taken to uplift. Lately, Nepal has stabilized its political and economic system with the end of armed violence and other social/cultural disputes. The result of this has been positive. The country has gained economic stability with a large sum of remittance coming in, including a much flourished tourism industry- all aiding to the economic upliftment of the country.

As a result, Nepal has now emerged as one of the world’s fastest movers in Human Development Index (HDI) since 1970, coming in third out of 135 countries studied. If this trend continues, there indeed is light at the end of the tunnel!

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