IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


12th June, 2023 Economy

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  • Health activists are divided about the Central Government’s move to discard international data parameters used to measure the socio-economic progress of the country.
  • The Central Government has called the international parameters to be one-size-fits-all.
  • While some activists say that international norms must be seen as aspirational standards others have welcomed the change.


  • India is now actively discussing redrawing parameters to cater to and accommodate its national diversity and local anthropometric measurements.
  • Central Government has cited three widely used data-driven development indicators — childhood stunting (India’s NFHS estimates based on WHO growth standards), female labour force participation rate by International Labour Organization and life expectancy at birth by United Nations in its working paper “Re-examining the estimates of India’s development indicators by international organizations’’ by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister – stating that global standards often present a misleading picture of important socio-economic development indicators.
  • Thus, it has used childhood stunting, female labor force participation rate and life expectancy at birth — to highlight the alleged anomalies.

Reasons cited for change in parameters

  • Improper adjustments using modelling procedures end up skewing data for India, note experts adding that what is also worrying is the fact that there is a growing use of Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) norms in investment and trade decisions which it said increases the need for accurate data in these areas.
  • The examination of well-known development indicators suggests that international agencies systematically underestimate socio-economic progress and this then feeds into wider global indices but also clouds feedback on policy interventions.
  • The paper states that the problem is well-known in the medical field and taking cognizance of the diversity of children’s growth (in this case stunting), Indonesia, the U.K., and the US have developed their own growth charts for reference by medical practitioners.
  • The paper also noted that international estimates are plagued by conceptual mistakes and inappropriate benchmarks to shoddy methodology.

Other changes being made

  • The Union Health Ministry this year developed and released its own mechanism for estimating TB burden in the country.
  • More recently India has dropped questions on anemia and disability from the National Family Health Survey-6 (NFHS) which is set to begin next month.
  • Also, for calculating life expectancy at birth for India the estimates were sharply cut by 3.67 years by the United Nations Population Division from 70.19 in 2019 to 67.24 in 2021.


Q. Which of the following data-driven development indicators are being used by India to measure socio-economic progress in the country?

a)    Childhood stunting.

b)    Female Labor Force Participation Rate.

c)    Life expectancy at birth.

d)    Mean years of schooling.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

1.  a, b and c only

2.  b and d only

3.  a, b and d only

4.  All of the above.

Correct Answer: 1) a, b and c only