Who said India is not poor!

3 Nov

Contrary to the government’s claims, which put the number of poor people in India to be around 37.5% (as per the Tendulkar committee), the latest report by the United Nations has claimed that 41.6% of Indians live for less than a dollar a day.

The report – Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All -said India has the world’s largest number of multi-dimensionally poor — 612 million. The UNDP calculates poverty on a multidimensional vector such as access to health services, clean water, cooking fuels, basic household goods and home construction standards. Which means over half India’s population is abysmally poor.

India also slipped down in the Human Development Index (HDI) ranking announced by the UNDP on Wednesday.

India has come down from its last year ranking of 119 (out of 169 countries) to 134 (out of 187) this year. This despite the fact that life expectancy at birth in the country has increased by 10.1% a year over the last two decades, and mean year of schooling increased by 3.9 years between 1980 and 2011 and expected years of schooling increased by 3.9 years.

The 2011 Global HDI ranks countries on their progress on the three key dimensions of human development – education, health and income. India’s HDI value for 2011 was 0.547 positioning the country in the medium human development category.

And even though between 1980 and 2011, India’s HDI value increased from 0.344 to 0.547 — an increase of 59% or an average annual increase of about 1.5% – when adjusted for inequality, India’s HDI falls to 0.392, that is, a loss of 28.3% due to inequality. This is slightly lower than the average for South Asia (28.4%).

In the Gender Inequality Index (GII), Indian women were found to lag significantly behind men in education, parliamentary representation and labour force participation. India is ranked at an unimpressive 129 out of 146 nations in the GII.

The report released in Denmark points out inequality in the distribution of human development (income, education and health) is more pronounced in India than elsewhere.

This is despite the fact that the Government has been concerned about uneven distribution of the benefits of growth for couple of years. Accordingly 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12) was based on inclusive growth. 12th Plan is also expected to focus on inequalities.

This is the second year when UNDP calculated HDI after adjusting inequalities. India, with HDI value of 0.547, falls in the category of countries with ‘Medium Human Development’. It falls short of the world average, which is 0.624.

Our record is worse than Bangladesh in mean year of schooling & life expectancy at birth.

The gap between rich & poor is also wider in India as compared to Bangladesh. Even Pakistani children are attending 4.9 years of school as compared to India’s 4.4 years.

Mass of poverty
According to UNDP, income poverty only tells part of the story. The multidimensional poverty is 12.1 percentage points higher than income poverty. This implies that individuals living above the income poverty line may still suffer deprivations in education, health and other living conditions.

As per UNDP report 2011, 53.7% of the population suffer multiple deprivations while an additional 16.4 per cent are vulnerable to multiple deprivations. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of India is 0.283. Bangladesh and Pakistan have MPIs of 0.292 and 0.264 respectively. China has 0.056 MPI which is very less as compared to India.
Program director of NGO Population First, AL Sharda says gender inequality adds up in multidimensional poverty. “A huge population of women is still deprived of education, health and other needs.”

How is poverty measured?
The UNDP calculates poverty on a multidimensional vector such as access to health services, clean water, cooking fuels, basic household goods and home construction standards. Which means more than half India’s population is abysmally poor.

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