India loses a quarter of its human development value due to inequality, UNDP country head Francine Pickup said over India's ranking of 130 in the human development index.
Noting that despite overall progress, women continue to be deprived of healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living, Ms Pickup said given the current rate of progress globally, women will have to wait "more than 200 years to achieve equality in workforce".
"For a country that has made such remarkable progress, pockets of deprivation continue to prevent millions of people from fulfilling their true potential. Women especially continue to have a lower HDI than men, primarily because of fewer opportunities in education and at work," Ms Pickup said in an email interview.
India climbed one spot to 130 out of 189 countries in the latest human development rankings released Friday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
HDI is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
India's Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2017 was 0.640, which put the country in the medium human development category, according to the Human Development Report (HDR) released by the UNDP.
Ms Pickup said inequality and climate change remain big threats for India.
According to an earlier human development report, the average HDI for South Asia could be 12 per cent lower by 2050, when effects of global warming are considered.
Climate change is likely to increase migration, displacement and negatively affect livelihoods, she said.
Deteriorating air quality in major Indian cities and its impacts on human health are also worrying. India also has one of the largest number of people in the world living on degraded land, Ms Pickup said.
"The solution lies in innovation. The government has shown great leadership in creating an ecosystem that fosters creative thinking and innovation, through initiatives such as the Atal Innovation Mission, Startup India and more.
"We are confident of India's growth trajectory. With almost a sixth of the world's humanity, the ideas and innovations of tomorrow will come from India," she said.
However, Ms Pickup said the government is actively working towards removing this disparity between men and women.
"The success of the Sustainable Development Goals globally hinges on India. India's national development schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Swachh Bharat, Make in India and initiatives aimed at universalising school education and healthcare, will be crucial in ensuring that the upward trend in human development accelerates," she said.