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A Review of Human Development Trends in South Asia: 1990-2009


  • Avinash Kumar

    () (Oxfam India)


This paper is a review of the broad human development trends in the South Asian region over the last twenty years. It attempts to identify the changing patterns, the region’s persisting sluggish performance on human development indicators in general as well as country-specific and intracountry variations, along with explanations towards the same. It concurs with the recent findings that the economic growth and the Human Development Index have little in common. The paper also looks at different models of development that the countries within the region have followed; their fall outs and; their respective attempts to overcome challenges through various social protection policies. What comes across as a specific characteristic of the region is the phenomenon of continuing socio-economic exclusion of a certain set of people on the basis of caste, ethnicity, religion and gender. The paper, outlining these challenges, argues that while a direct attack on poverty through social protection measures is necessary, it is in the overall paradigm of development that the inclusion of the poor is extremely urgent. In this sense, what needs to be done is both at the level of the state to create grounds for social, political and economic transformations and at the level of the civil society, to destabilize the informal networks of caste and other identities which continue to sustain an exclusionary hierarchical structure.

Suggested Citation

  • Avinash Kumar, 2010. "A Review of Human Development Trends in South Asia: 1990-2009," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-44, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  • Handle: RePEc:hdr:papers:hdrp-2010-44

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    Cited by:

    1. Khan, Muhammad Azhar & Khan, Muhammad Zahir & Zaman, Khalid & Irfan, Danish & Khatab, Humera, 2014. "Questing the three key growth determinants: Energy consumption, foreign direct investment and financial development in South Asia," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 203-215.

    More about this item


    Human Development; Development; South Asia; poverty; inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R5 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis


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