In a virtual rerun of the Human Development Index scorecard, the Social Progress Index 2014 has also put India at a dismal rank of 102, the last in the BRICS peer group.
India at 102 position trails Brazil which scores best among the group with a rank of 46 reflecting the most “balanced” social progress, South Africa is at 69, Russia at 80 and China at 90. Russia and China have performed best in the area of Basic Human Needs, but rank low on personal rights and ecosystem sustainability.
The study measures a country’s achievement on three pillars of satisfying Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity to progress.
Its lead author is Michael Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor, Harvard Business School and is hugely influenced by the work of Nobel laureates Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz.
It is an attempt to counter the other seminal work in measuring country well beings, the World Bank’s Growth Commission led by another Nobel laureate Michael Spence.
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Not surprisingly, the top three slots on the index are taken up thinly populated countries New Zealand, Switzerland and Iceland.
Their GDP per capita is high but they rank even better on social concerns.
Interestingly Cuba at 79th position is way behind Saudi Arabia at 65.
Economic turnaround countries like Mexico and Philippines score lower than Greece while the United States is ranked 16 among the 132 countries studied, below most other developed economies. France is at 20th position and Germany just better at 12th.
Emerging market economic powerhouses find themselves scoring lower with South Korea at 28 and Israel at 39.
In Latin America Uruguay is the best performer with a rank of 26. The Philippines, too stands out in Asia with a rank of 56, as it has been successful in enabling a high level of personal freedom.
However, one surprising exclusion from the rankings is Bhutan, the country that coined the term Gross National Happiness. That is because the authors did not get enough data for several parameters.
The index has been constructed from data obtained from a variety of sources, mostly UN agencies and other organisations such as Transparency International and Pew Research Center.