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Comparing Western UP and Bundelkhand

Human Development, Gender and Deprivation

Sumit Chaturvedi (sumitartist@gmail.com) is an independent journalist and currently maintains a blog by the name of Opinion Tandoor.

For large states like Uttar Pradesh, there are always inter-regional comparisons regarding economic development and growth. However, without taking cognizance of the performance on the human development front, such comparisons often yield an incomplete and misleading picture. By factoring in these indicators, this article attempts to compare levels of human development in the two economic regions of UP, namely Bundelkhand and Western UP.

The understanding of development has undergone a sea change in the last few decades. Earlier viewed just in terms of material well-being of people, contemporary development discourse focuses on broader aspects of human well-being as well. Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen view development “in terms of the expansion of the real freedoms that the citizens enjoy to pursue the objectives they have reason to value, and in this sense the expansion of  human capability can be, broadly, seen as the central feature of the process of development” (Dreze and Sen 2002: 35). In this context, poverty can be seen as nothing but “capability deprivation” (Dreze and Sen 2002: 36).
 
Economic growth, even when narrowly seen in terms of per head income growth, can certainly facilitate the enhancement of human capabilities. But as Dreze and Sen suggest that there are  many influences other than economic growth that influence the development of human capabilities. Moreover, “the impact of economic growth on human capabilities can be extremely variable, depending on the nature of that growth”, that is, whether the growth is inclusive, whether it is generating employment and whether it is benefitting the poorest of the poor (Dreze and Sen 2002:37). 
 
This article attempts to compare the status of human development in two diverse regions of Uttar Pradesh (UP)—Bundelkhand and Western UP, and find out the variable impact of economic growth on human development in both the areas. The article is based on the Second Human Development Report published in 2008 by the UP government. The report has been prepared according to the methodology propounded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and uses data available till 2006-07.
 
The state of UP has been divided into four separate economic zones—Western UP, Central UP, Eastern UP and Bundelkhand. Apart from Bundelkhand, which lies in the dry Vindhean plateau, all other regions lie in the fertile Gangetic plains. The regions also differ in population size and density with 37% of the state population residing in Western UP, 40% in Eastern UP, and 5% in Bundelkhand (UPHDR 2008: Chapter 1 Section IX).  
 
Plagued by underdevelopment, the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh is known for its backwardness. This has fuelled the already existing demand for statehood in the region. People feel that statehood can address the underdevelopment in the region. There are seven districts in the Bundelkhand region and 22 in Western UP. Therefore, the task of comparing the two areas may seem a bit formidable.
 
The two regions of UP under study are compared by calibrating economic prosperity and the human development achieved,  to understand what kind of relationship exists between economic development and human development in the two areas. The indices used to estimate the condition of human development here are the Human Development Index (HDI), Gender Development Index (GDI) and Human Deprivation Index (in place of Human Poverty Index). 
 
Besides the following indices, we shall also look at literacy, per capita net district domestic product (NDDP) and rural poverty incidence among other indicators. Through a comparison of these factors between the districts of Western UP and Bundelkhand, we aim to find out which region has developed in what area and how the government has distributed resources between the two regions for the development of human capabilities. 
 
Human Development Index
 
The HDI according to the UNDP standards, measures the “average achievements” in “three basic dimensions of human development”—“a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living”. The HDI thus estimates and analyses the variables of life expectancy at birth, educational attainment and “gross domestic product (GDP) per capita as proxy for a decent standard of living and as a surrogate for all human choices not reflected in the other two dimensions” (UPHDR 2008: Box 2.1). 
 
Out of the seven districts of Bundelkhand, none is ranked very low in the HDI (that is, below 0.50 HDI), two fall within the low category (0.50 to 0.54), three in the medium category (0.55 to 0.59) and two, that is, Jhansi and Jalaun are in the high category, with ranks 8 and 16 respectively. It is interesting to note that none of the districts have very low HDI values, and only two of them—Lalitpur and Banda, figure in the low category. However, these two districts along with Chitrakoot, Jalaun, Mahoba and Hamirpur  have also made the most progress in HDI during the period of 2001-05 (UPHDR 2008: Fig 2.9). 
 
In Western UP, two districts, Rampur and Badaun, fall in the very low category of HDI, five lie in the low category, six lie in the medium category and eight are in the high category. Due to a substantial difference between the size of the two regions, with Western UP being much bigger than Bundelkhand, the performance of districts in the two regions are compared in terms of percentage. Thus 31.8 % of districts in Western UP lie in the low or very low category in HDI, whereas only 28.7% districts in Bundelkhand rank in the low and not the very low category. 
 
Moreover, it is only Bareilly district from Western UP that figures in the list of ten districts that have significantly improved in terms of HDI (UPHDR 2008: Fig 2.9), and three districts from Western UP figure in the list of 10 districts which have shown the least improvement in HDI (UPHDR 2008: Fig 2.10). None of the districts in Bundelkhand are in the list which show the least improvement in HDI (UPHDR 2008: Fig 2.10). 
 
Gender Development Index
 
The report gives special mention to the Gender Development Index (GDI) and Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM). Though the GDI uses the same variables as the HDI to measure human development, it additionally “takes into account inequality in achievement between men and women” (UPHDR 2008 Box 2.1). Thus greater the gender disparity in a district in basic human development, the lower would be its GDI as compared to its HDI. The GEM targets gender inequality more directly. “It measures gender inequality in key areas of economic and political participation and decision-making” (UPHDR 2008 Box 2.1). 
 
In terms of GDI, computed for the years 2001 and 2005, there are only three categories of ranking—low, medium and high. Bundelkhand has one district in the low category, three in medium and three in  high category. As can be seen from the table, except for Mahoba, the HDI and GDI rankings for most districts in the region are more or less consistent with each other. In all the other districts of Bundelkhand, the GDI ranking is better or near equal to the HDI ranking.    
 

S No

 

Districts

 

HDI Ranking

 

GDI Ranking

 

Bundelkhand

1

Banda

41

38

2

Chitrakoot

20

10

3

Hamirpur

35

26

4

Jalaun

16

17

5

Jhansi

8

6

6

Lalitpur

49

40

7

Mahoba

34

61

Western UP

1

Agra

7

28

2

Aligarh

30

34

3

Badaun

67

70

4

Bhagpat

5

7

5

Bareilly

51

52

6

Bijnor

24

44

7

Bulandshahar

17

4

8

Etah

48

58

9

Firozabad

23

37

10

Gautam Budh Nagar

1

1

11

Ghaziabad

2

14

12

Hathras

11

30

13

Jyotiba Phule Nagar

31

31

14

Mainpuri

21

36

15

Mathura

10

5

16

Meerut

6

20

17

Moradabad

54

54

18

Muzaffarnagar

18

45

19

Pilibhit

47

63

20

Rampur

62

69

21

Sahranpur

9

39

22

Shahjahanpur

58

66

Source: Data compiled from the UPHDR 2008

 
In all districts of Western UP except Bulandshahar, Gautam Buddha Nagar and Mathura, GDI rankings are less than the corresponding HDI rankings. Seven districts lie in the low category, nine lie in the medium category and only five in the high category. It is interesting to see that only three districts, namely Mathura, Bulandshahar and Gautam Buddha Nagar have either maintained or improved in GDI rankings as compared to their HDI rankings. Most other districts have very low GDI rankings as compared to their rankings in HDI. This reflects upon how human development is ineffectively translated into the alleviation of gender inequality. 
 
Human Deprivation Index
 
The Human Deprivation Index used in place of Human Poverty Index, measures “deprivations in human development”. It reflects “the distribution of progress and measures backlog of deprivations that still exists” (UPHDR 2008: Box 2.1). In this report it “measures deprivation in quality of housing (% of households living in kuccha houses), deprivation in access to water (% of households without drinking water sources in or near the house), deprivation in good sanitation (% of households living in houses without toilet facility) and deprivation in electricity lighting (% of households living in houses without electricity facility)” (UPHDR 2008: Chapter 2 Section VII). 
 
According to this index, Bundelkhand districts fare rather poorly. At least four districts have high deprivation index and one ranks in the very high category. Only Jhansi falls in the low deprivation category and Jalaun in the medium category. Although if one goes by the Giri Institute of Development Studies report, the districts in Bundelkhand fare much better in terms of electrification than rest of the state. By 2006-07 almost 94% of villages in the region were electrified as compared to the entire state average of 85.3%. Thus the deprivation measurement in case of Bundelkhand must be accounted for by lack of pucca houses and drinking water resources, which the area is deficient in, as the water table there is low. This can be attributed to the poor ability of the soil to retain water and rocky terrain (Joshi and Kumar et al 2009: 27).
 
In case of western UP, 11 districts rank in the low deprivation category, eight in the medium, two in the high and none in the very high category. This gives a fairly comprehensive picture of the availability of basic amenities in the region. This kind of availability is pretty consistent with the high net domestic product (NDP) that is generated in this region due to high agricultural and industrial production. 
 
Income indicators
 
Although HDI, as defined already, factors in per capita income as an indicator of economic well-being, we must compare the net domestic district product (NDDP) with development indicators separately (per capita) to see this correlation at the district level in the two regions. 
 
In terms of NDDP, except Banda and Chitrakoot, all the other districts of Bundelkhand do well in rankings allotted to various districts of UP. In fact, the per capita NDP  of the entire region stood at Rs 13,250 in 2005-06, almost at par with the state average (Joshi and Kumar et al 2009: 29) . Western UP districts also, except Badaun, have managed to secure higher rankings. 
 
Thus both the regions in terms of per capita production have been sound. However, what needs to be kept in mind is that while Bundelkhand being a sparsely populated area (less than 5% of the population of the state resides there) can manage a good per capita NDP even with a low gross NDP, Western UP must have a fairly high NDP   to be able to manage well in the per capita production rankings despite it being a densely populated region. 
 
Analysis 
 
Many more indicators could have been looked at in detail, such as literacy, health etc, to compare human development in the two regions. But since we have taken up broad indicators such as human development, gender development and deprivation index and tried to map them alongside income variables, certain conclusions can be drawn with some degree of certainty. But before that some caution  must be exercised while analysing   these very indicators. HDI itself takes GDP per capita as an indicator of well-being. This ignores two issues. Firstly, per capita GDP obfuscates inequalities in income distribution and secondly, income measurements do not necessarily translate into well-being for all. Issues of patriarchy, gender discrimination, large family size and prioritisation of amenities are all important and must be factored in. 
 
Both the issues are clearly reflected in the mapping of the various indices alongside income and per capita GDP measures. While Western UP has done very well in terms of income generation and NDP, many districts have not fared well on HDI. Furthermore those districts that have managed to fare better on HDI, do much worse on GDI. Thus it shows that there are reasons to assume gender discrimination when it comes to human development. 
 
Though a good showing on deprivation index shows that although basic amenities have made it into the households in Western UP, faring badly in development indices illustrates that having amenities has not yet  translated into basic human capability enhancement. In fact for Western UP, total literacy percentage is 57.36% as compared to Bundelkhand’s 59.30% (the highest among all regions) (Joshi and Kumar et al 2009: 9). 
 
Similarly in terms of educational infrastructure, Bundelkhand does better than Western UP on counts of more junior, senior and higher secondary schools per lakh population by huge margins. The gross enrolment rate in schools is also much better in Bundelkhand. At the same time, the student-teacher ratio is much lesser in the Bundelkhand region as compared to Western region, which essentially means that because there are fewer students per teacher in Bundelkhand the teaching there is better. 
 
Even in terms of health facilities, there are more allopathic hospitals and dispensaries in Bundelkhand per lakh of population than in Western UP. There are more beds per lakh population, primary health centres, and mother-child care centres in Bundelkhand per lakh population than Western UP (Joshi and Kumar et al 2009: 25-26).
 
Thus Bundelkhand, which in the recent years has improved in poverty reduction and economic production, has also been able to generate human development in many areas. However what undercuts its achievements, is probably a very bad showing on the deprivation index. The lack of basic amenities is a major problem if we go by the Second UP Human Development Report. 
 
Conclusions 
 
Based on this analysis, we can then point out certain problems with policy formulations regarding various issues of development in the state of UP and  also suggest certain correctives. Firstly, looking at the inconsistencies between the HDI and GDI in Western UP, it is imperative that measures are devised to increase women’s participation and remove gender inequalities in the region.  The performance of Bundelkhand in this area shows that the development there is more inclusive in terms of gender. However, the low literacy levels of women in both the areas is a negative indicator and therefore female literacy must be prioritised urgently. 
 
Secondly, in terms of per capita income, both areas have fared more or less similarly. Therefore the huge discrepancy in food consumption, which is low in Bundelkhand and much higher in Western UP is unacceptable. This suggests a problem in the public distribution system as well as food grain supply in the former region. 
 
On a general note, Bundelkhand has fared better on many grounds than Western UP despite the latter region’s economic prosperity. This shows that policy implementation in the area is better than in Western UP. Yet the politics of special economic packages—announced from time to time by successive central and state governments—that is being carried out in the name of Bundelkhand’s underdevelopment is an inconsistency, needs to be seriously looked at. Since it is basic deprivation that Bundelkhand is encountering despite performing well in agriculture and many other areas, it indicates toward creation of an artificial scarcity. Western UP on the other hand might be suffering due to traditional problems of patriarchy and growth stagnation and above all poor policy implementation.
 
References
 
Dreze, Jean and Amartya Sen (2002): India: Development and Participation, New Delhi:Oxford University Press, pp 1-32. 
 
Joshi, A, Nomita P Kumar and A.K. Singh (2009): "The Challenge of Development and Poverty in Bundelkhand Region of UP", Lucknow: Giri Institute of Development Studies. 
 
"Second Human Development Report-Uttar Pradesh" (2008): Lucknow: Planning Department, Government of Uttar Pradesh, accessed on 15 May 2015, http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/india_uttar_pradesh_2007.pdf. 
 

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