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Sri Lanka Leads South Asia in Human Development: UNDP Report

However, Sri Lanka has witnessed a slight decline in its ranking, while the Maldives has experienced a modest improvement.

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Galleface, Colombo. (Photo by Thilina Kaluthotage/NurPhoto)

Sri Lanka stands out as the sole country in South Asia to maintain its High Human Development status in the latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Report. Amidst a landscape of mixed advancements and challenges across the region, Sri Lanka’s consistent performance underscores its unwavering commitment to prioritizing the well-being and development of its people.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has published the much-anticipated 2023/2024 Human Development Report, shedding light on the progress and disparities in human development across the globe. Central to this report is the Human Development Index (HDI), a comprehensive measure gauging average achievements in crucial dimensions of human development.

The HDI underscores the significance of prioritizing people and their capabilities over mere economic growth. It encompasses three fundamental aspects: leading a long and healthy life, acquiring knowledge, and attaining a decent standard of living.

In the realm of South Asia, the Human Development Index delineates a mixed landscape. Notably, no South Asian nation ranks within the top category of “Very High Human Development.” Sri Lanka and the Maldives are designated under “High Human Development,” while India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar fall into the bracket of “Medium Human Development.” Pakistan and Afghanistan, unfortunately, find themselves classified under “Low Human Development.”

The rankings, based on data from the year 2022, depict a nuanced narrative of progress and stagnation. Sri Lanka has witnessed a slight decline in its ranking, while the Maldives has experienced a modest improvement. Bhutan maintains its position, whereas Bangladesh and India have seen marginal advancements. Nepal emerges as the most improved country in South Asia. Conversely, Pakistan has slightly progressed, while Afghanistan has faced a slight setback.

A brief analysis underscores the challenges hindering substantial progress in human development within South Asia. Despite robust economic growth in countries like India and Bangladesh, disparities persist in life expectancy and education. Governance issues, exemplified by poor or absent formal structures in Pakistan and Afghanistan, contribute to the region’s limited progress.

The contrast between Maldives and Sri Lanka, consistently categorized under “High Human Development,” and larger South Asian nations underscores the influence of population size and economic independence on HDI rankings. However, it’s evident that a high HDI doesn’t necessarily ensure economic security, as both nations grapple with significant debt dependency.

The report’s definitions, ranging from life expectancy at birth to gross national income (GNI) per capita, offer deeper insights into the factors influencing human development trajectories.

Click Here to Read the Full Report

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

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