Data | Measuring India’s relative progress in the past 76 years

India observed its 77th Independence Day this year. This analysis measures India’s relative performance in the past 76 years compared to other countries across four parameters — GDP per capita, Human Development Index (HDI), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and women’s participation in Parliament. Owing to technological advancement and infrastructural development, India and other countries have made remarkable progress in the past seven and half decades. So it becomes imperative to look at where India stood compared to other nations around the time of independence and where it stands now among them.

India is compared with these countries: BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa), G-7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States), emerging economies (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates) and the Indian subcontinent (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).

Chart 1 | The chart compares GDP per capita (in $) of 26 countries between the 1960s and 2022.

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India’s GDP per capita ranking of 24 out of 26 nations analysed remained unchanged between the 1960s and 2022. While Indonesia and Nepal were lagging behind India in the 1960s, Pakistan and Nepal were lagging behind in 2022.

Chart 2 | The chart compares the Human Development Index of 31 countries between 1950 and 2021.

India’s HDI increased by 0.11 points in 1950 to 0.633 in 2021. However, India’s ranking slipped from 26 in 1950 to 29 by 2021. Of the five countries which lagged behind India in 1950, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Bangladesh—moved ahead by 2021, with scores of 0.87, 0.7 and 0.66 respectively.

Chart 3 | The chart compares infant mortality rates in 32 countries between 1960-1975 and 2021. 

Between 1960 and 1975, India had the seventh-worst IMR among these 32 nations. In 2021, India regressed four spots and became the third-worst. Of the six countries which were behind India in 1960-75, five (Turkey, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Egypt and Nepal) surpassed India by 2021. However, South Africa regressed.

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Chart 4 | The chart compares the share of women in Parliament in 31 countries between 1997 and 2022. 

Women’s participation in India increased from 7% in 1997-98 to 14.9% in 2022. Over 10 countries were behind India in this indicator in 1997-98. In 2022, only five remain below India.

In case of other indicators like access to electricity and usage of the internet, India has had significant progress. Between 1993 and 2000, only 50% of India’s population had access to electricity. By 2020, this increased to 99% of its population. A majority of the 32 countries considered provided electricity to over 99% of their population by 2020, except for Pakistan, South Africa and Nepal where the share remains below 90%. In 1990, almost no country considered, except for the U.S., had any access to the Internet. But by 2020, India has managed to provide internet access to 43% of its population. While India lags behind 27 countries in this indicator, Bhutan (53.5%) is the only country in the subcontinent that is ranked above India.

In 1960, with a population of 45.05 crore people, India had the second-highest population behind China (66.7 crore). By the end of 2022, India’s population stood at 1.417 billion, surpassing China’s 1.412 billion, making India the most populous country in the world, according to the World Population Review.

Source: World Bank and Our World in Data and

Also read |Data | 75 years of independence: A comparison of India’s growth with other nations across ten indicators

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