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India poverty rates comparable to Iraq, Vietnam

Nov 10, 2010

Though India is among the top ten scorers in terms of economic growth, its performance on development goals remains abysmal, says a recently released UNDP report. India lags behind neighbours like Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka when it comes to the status of health, poverty and gender inequality.

India is ranked 119th among 169 countries in the latest edition of the Human Development Index (HDI), well below comparable emerging economies and even behind poorer neighbours such as Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The HDI, released annually by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), measures human development based on indicators such as health, education and income.

Norway, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Ireland lead the index, while emerging economies such as Russia (69th), Brazil (73rd) and China (89th) score well above India.

In value terms, India moved to 0.519 from 0.512 last year. But its rank remains unchanged under a revised method of calculating the index.

On the Gender Inequality Index, which was launched this year, India is ranked 122nd out of 138 countries, based on 2008 data.

The report says 27% of adult women in India have a secondary or higher level of education, compared with 50% of men.

For every 100,000 live births, 450 women in India die from pregnancy-related causes, while the adolescent fertility rate is 68 births per 1,000 live births. Female participation in the labour market in India is 36% compared with 85% for men.

Replacing the Human Poverty Index, UNDP has introduced the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which identifies multiple deprivations in the same households in terms of education, health and standard of living.

In India, 55% of the population already suffers multiple deprivations, while another 16% is vulnerable to it.

The report says Delhi’s rate of multi-dimensional poverty is close to that of Iraq and Vietnam, while that of Bihar is similar to that of Sierra Leone and Guinea.

About a third of other Indian households are multi-dimensionally poor, with an MPI just below that of Honduras.

While India stands at 10 in the top 10 movers in HDI in terms of improvement in income, it does not figure in the top 10 movers’ list on health and education.

N.R. Bhanumurthy, professor at the think-tank National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, said India’s poor HDI rank reflected a skewed development focus.

“Our policies have been concentrating more on economic growth, neglecting the social sectors. That is why the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12) tried to bring in the concept of inclusive growth.

The policies are now in place; however, they have not been implemented whole heartedly. That is why our ranking is so poor,” he said.

The HDI report holds that current consumption and production patterns worldwide are not environmentally sustainable in the long term.

By mid-century, the adverse effects of climate change on grain yields will push prices up—more than doubling the price of wheat—with massive repercussions.

 

Source : Livemint
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