ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Comparing Western UP and Bundelkhand

Human Development, Gender and Deprivation

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.      

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