World Bank on 28 January 2015 released a report titled Scaling the Heights: Social Inclusion and Sustainable Development in Himachal Pradesh.
It is the first report of its kind for Himachal Pradesh. It is a macro-social account of the state’s achievements over the past several decades. Simultaneously, it is an interdisciplinary attempt to understand the confluence of factors that allowed the state to move toward social inclusion and sustainable development.
Main highlights of the Report
- Per capita income in Himachal Pradesh is the second highest in the country – an impressive achievement given that more than 90 percent of its residents live in rural areas.
- Educational attainment is among the highest in the country, and the share of women in the workforce is larger than in most other states.
- Himachal Pradesh is the first state in the country to have banned the use of plastic bags. The state is also a trail-blazer in sanitation and is the first among its north Indian neighbours to come close to becoming open defecation free.
- Cultural factors have also led to strong women’s participation in development programs, helping the state reach high levels of sanitation, immunization and school attendance.
- The policies adopted and the quality of their implementation is the foremost propeller of inclusive development in the State
- Poverty headcount is nearly one-third the national average. Rural poverty showed an impressive four-fold decline, falling from 36.8 percent in 1993–94 to 8.5 percent in 2011, benefitting all social groups in both rural and urban areas.
- Educational attainment is among the highest in the country, particularly among excluded groups. More members of SC and ST groups have completed secondary or higher levels of schooling, both in rural and urban areas compared to other states, including southern states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- The big success story is in female labour force participation which stands second in the country after Sikkim. More than 60 percent women in rural areas were in the labor force in 2011–12, significantly higher than the all-India average of 27 percent
- Although fewer women worked in urban areas yet 28 percent of women in the State were in labour force. These levels were on par with Kerala and Tamil Nadu and double that of neighboring states.
- Urban areas in Himachal Pradesh lag behind rural areas in human development outcomes. Therefore, as urbanization levels increase, the state will have to ensure that urban growth is well-planned, enabling its residents to access key services and partake in the new economic opportunities that cities and towns have to offer.