India behind Bangladesh in poverty alleviation : IFPRI

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, November 6 | Updated: Nov 7 2007, 02:24am hrs
Poverty alleviation programmes in India have not been able to create a balanced impact. There are still a large number of people living on less than 50 cents a day. Bangladesh has fared better than India in terms of poverty alleviation, according to a recent study of the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

IFPRI found 162 million people of the world living on less than 50 cents a day and has termed them "ultra poor". It has divided the poor into three distinct categories "subjacent poor" living on 75 cents to $ one a day, "medial poor" living on 50 cents to 75 cents a day and "ultra poor" living on less than 50 cents a day. There are 485 million "subjacent poor" and 322 million "medial poor" in the world.

Analysing the household data for the period 1990-2004, the IFRI study "The World's Most Deprived" said that South Asia accounted for 12% of the world's poorest people ( 19.7 million). In India poverty alleviation has not gathered momentum, while in the neighbouring Bangladesh poverty rates relating to all the three categories of poor have fallen since the end of 1990s.

The study conducted by the team leader, Akhter U Ahmed said ; "In India, the medial poor fared better than the subjacent poor and the ultra poor (marginally). Although Bangladesh achieved minimal poverty reduction from 1990 to 2004, it is remarkable that the ultra poor fared better than they would have had all those below the line fared equally, suggesting that the severity of poverty lessened in the country."

According to the study, like East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia achieved remarkable growth rates during 1990s (about 5%), however the region was less able than East Asia and the Pacific to convert this growth to reduction in poverty. The ultra poor benefited the least from progress in this region and those living in medial poverty benefited the most

According to IFPRI, from 1990 to 2004, the number of people living on less than $ one per day in the world fell from 1.25 billion to 969 million or in other words poverty reduced from 2b.7% to 18%. By 2004, East Asia and the Pacific's share of the world's poor decreased by more than half to only 17% (169 million), South Asia's share increased to almost 50% ( 446.2 million) and Sub-Saharan Africa's share increased to 31% (298.2 million).

East Asia and the Pacific met and exceeded the poverty Millennium Development Goals with the dollar-a-day poverty rate in the region falling from 29.9% in 1990 to 9.1% in 2004. In 1990, South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific had similar number of the people living on less than $ one a day, but by 2004, the latter had 307 million fewer. Between 1990 and 2004,the number of poor people decreased by a modest 33 million in South Asia and increased by about 2.4 million inLatin America and the Caribbean and by a staggering 58 million in Sub-Saharan Africa

East Asia and the Pacific account for 5% of the world's ultra poor (8.8 million) and Latin America and the Caribbean account for 7% of the world's ultra poor (11.5 million).