Umpiring’s dirty secrets

UN Human Development Report 2011: Remember the headlines that eight states in India had a higher population living in absolute poverty than the poorest 26 sub-Saharan countries combined (421 million versus 410 million)? Seemed difficult to believe, especially with per capita income in India increasing by more than 7 per cent per annum for the greater part of the last decade. But not difficult to believe for the ideologically correct "Pied Piper" experts at the UN and their faithful followers in India. This index was comprehensive and covered 10 different aspects of deprivation, with the important health and education development each getting a one-third weight.

However, the UN chose to construct the education component of its index on the basis of a very questionable methodology. For child enrolment (16.7 per cent of the total index, and half of the education index) the calculation was as follows: if even one child of school-going age was not attending school, the index for the entire household was estimated as zero. A more reasonable method was to compute the index components on the basis of percentages, for example, if there were three children of school-going age, and one was not attending school, the index value should be two-thirds of 16.7 or 11.13 , not zero!

This makes a large difference to the results; instead of 25 per cent education deprivation for India, it is only 14.5 per cent. But this correct method of computation does not yield the much-cited UN "result" for all India and sub-Saharan Africa noted above.

Worse, the NSS data does not yield the UN result even with the UN method. The UN claims that in 2005-06, 25 per cent of the families had at least one school-age person not attending school; the NSS estimate for a year earlier, 2004-05, is a lower 21.4 per cent.

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