Extreme Poverty in India Remains

A recent report from the United Nations detailed the fight against child mortality, poor sanitation and poverty in India. According to the report, one-third of the 1.2 billion who live in extreme poverty around the world lived in India in 2010.

Around one-third of India’s population is believed to be living below the poverty line. A prediction from the World Bank states that by 2015, 40 percent of the 970 million people believed to be living on less than $1.25 a day will come from Southeast Asia.

However, the report also stated that the extreme poverty rate in Southeast Asia decreased from 45 percent in 1990 to 14 percent  in 2010. There are currently more people living in extreme poverty in India than anywhere else in the world at 32.9 percent.

As a result, India also has the largest child mortality rate out of any country around the world. The report said that 1.4 million children died in India before reaching their fifth birthday.

“We don’t have to be proud of what we have done,” said the Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla. “Poverty is the biggest challenge…I am sure when the next report comes, we will have done much better. Sadly, despite paying lip-service to Mahatma Gandhi, we have been unable to fulfill his aspiration, and this is the challenge that our government has inherited and is committed to fulfilling.”

Eight Millennium Development Goals were established in 2000 by the U.N. They advocated for extreme poverty reduction, and called for improvements in maternal care and education – issues which are very prevalent in India.

The report also said that China currently leads the way in terms of global poverty reduction, and reduced their number of citizens living in extreme poverty from 60 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2010.

“India’s role in global development is the most important in the world,” said Lise Grande, the U.N. Resident Coordinator for India. “The MDGs can not be reached globally if they are not reached here. The new post 2015 framework cannot succeed if it does not reflect the aspirations and does not have the commitment and support of India.”

Grande said that India’s commitment to reach the needed goals has inspired other countries.

However, there is some good news for Southeast Asia, and India in general. The region experienced the largest increase in literacy among young citizens, increasing from 60 percent in 1990 to 80 percent in 2011. The literacy rate among girls is growing faster than the literacy rate for boys.

The region has also improved public schooling and increased school enrollment, according to the report.

Monica Newell

Sources: The Economic Times, NDTV, The Hindu Business Line
Photo: The Economic Times