United Nations has observed that poverty head count ratio for Muslims is highest in the states of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat even as it expressed satisfaction over India's efforts to meet the millennium development goals in important areas.
"India is well placed to meet the millennium development goals on reducing poverty by half and achieving universal primary education and gender parity in education.
However, it is not likely to meet targets in areas of maternal mortality, infant mortality, under-five mortality andsanitation," said UNDP country director Caitlin Wiesen.
She was addressing a national seminar on "Millennium Development Goals and Rural Development in India: Policy Initiatives Targets and Achievements", organised by the National Institute of Rural Development here.
"It is commendable that India is meeting its overall poverty reduction target but there are multiple manifestations of poverty in rural areas. Scheduled Tribes exhibit highest level of poverty at 47 per cent and Scheduled Castes at 42 percent," she said.
Wiesen said as far as religious groups are concerned, poverty head count ratio for Muslims is "very high in states of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat".
"Nearly, 50 per cent of agricultural labourers and 40 per cent of other labourers are below poverty line in rural areas, where households with primary level and lower education have the higher poverty ratio," Wiesen pointed out.
She said though India has improved on poverty reduction, the situation is grim for the poor in rural areas because agriculture sector, the mainstay of rural people, has not grown on expected lines.
"There is an urgent need to strengthen accountability systems within government and communities, convergence between rural development and other key departments and social mobilisation of the poor into self help groups and federations," the UNDP director said.
Wiesen said development strategies in India need to take into account the challenges posed by climate change which has a direct bearing on natural resources and livelihood of the rural population.
"UNDP is moving into its new five-year program which will focus on areas of rural development, inclusive growth, democratic governance and environment", she said.
Wiesen said the UNDP program will be launched in nine states including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Assam.
National Institute of Rural Development Director General Dr M V Rao and NIRD professor Dr B Chakaravarty were also present at the event.