Poverty in India is widespread, with the nation estimated to have a third of the world’s poor. In 2010, the World Bank reported that 32.7% of all people in India fall below the international poverty line of US$ 1.25 per day (PPP) while 68.7% live on less than US$ 2 per day.
According to 2010 data from the United Nations Development Programme, an estimated 29.8% of Indians live below the country’s national poverty line. A 2010 report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) states that 8 Indian states have 421 million poor people more poor people than Sub-Saharan Africa. A 2013 UN report stated that a third of the worlds poorest people live in India.
According to a 2011 poverty Development Goals Report, as many as 320 million people in India and China are expected to come out of extreme poverty in the next four years, with India’s poverty rate projected to drop from 51% in 1990 to about 22% in 2015. The report also indicates that in Southern Asia, only India is on track to cut poverty by half by the 2015 target date.
Defining the poverty line is itself a subjective matter, and many feel that it should be raised further. Indian journalist Ravi S Jha suggests measuring poverty by segregating India’s poor in different groups; those living in abject poverty, those who are vulnerable to poverty and those who are lifted out of poverty through government welfare. The urban areas where India’s middle and upper classes make their living have seen the greatest degree of economic growth, while the rural areas have lagged further behind. Since 1991, India has undergone a great deal of liberalisation internally and externally, but its benefits have mostly gone to the middle and upper classes.
The latest UNICEF data shows that one in three malnourished children worldwide are found in India, whilst 42% of the nation’s children under five years of age are underweight. It also shows that a total of 58% of children under five surveyed were stunted. Rohini Mukherjee, of the Naandi foundation – one of the NGOs that published the report – stated India is “doing worse than sub-Saharan Africa.” However, the main cause for this malnourishment is dietary practices, and not economic poverty. To quote the same Rohini Mukherjee “It is very clear that in Africa (malnutrition) is a result of absolute poverty. They are starving… In our case, to me it seems it is about eating and feeding practices… Most children we measured have never been hungry, but what the child is eating is almost all carbohydrate.” Too many women underestimate the need to breastfeed an infant during its first six months. People often consider Colostrum—a vital high-protein milk-form produced just before birth—as being impure and discard it.
The 2011 Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report places India amongst the three countries where the GHI between 1996 and 2011 went up from 22.9 to 23.7, while 78 out of the 81 developing countries studied, including Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Kenya, Nigeria, Myanmar, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Malawi, succeeded in improving hunger conditions.
India has one third of world’s poorest, says World Bank
One in three of the world’s poorest people are living in India, the world’s second-fastest growing economy, according to a new study by the World Bank.
While new figures show that the number of those in extreme poverty around the world – surviving on 82 pence per day or less – has declined significantly, India now has a greater share of the world’s poorest than it did thirty years ago. Then it was home to one fifth of the world’s poorest people, but today it accounts for one-third – 400 million.
The study, The State of the Poor: Where are the Poor and Where are the Poorest?, found the number of extremely poor people had declined from half the world’s population in 1981 to one fifth in 2010, but voiced concern at its increase in Sub-Saharan Africa and continuing high level in India.
World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said while the overall decline was “remarkable progress”, the remaining 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty was “a stain on our collective conscience.” His colleague, World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu, who until last year was economic advisor to Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, said the figures called for the world’s wealthier countries to do more.