Poverty-Growth Linkage Not Evident In West Bengal, Kerala

New Delhi: | Updated: Dec 23 2002, 05:30am hrs
Decline in poverty and growth trends of most states over the last three decades have established a positive linkage between the two, the Tenth Plan volume on states has pointed out. However, the document observed that there were at least two statesKerala and West Bengalwhere the growth-poverty reduction linkage did not hold good.

According to the Plan document, significant declines in rural poverty as a whole (30-40 per cent) has been recorded in the period by the faster growing states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

In case of Madhya Pradesh, moderate growth has been accompanied by moderate decline in poverty over a long period. Both Bihar and Orissa have recorded relatively poor economic growth and have had correspondingly little impact on poverty reduction.

West Bengal and Kerala are two states which recorded a significant decline in the rural poverty ratio without recording a corresponding growth. Kerala had a relatively weak-to-moderate growth till the eighties with the per capita income growth ranging from negative to less than 2 per cent per annum. The reduction in the rural poverty ratio of almost 50 percentage points in less than three decades is much more than for states that have been recording a strong growth performance.

The report pointed out that in Kerala the priorities which have guided public policy led to the expansion in social opportunities and a high level of human development in relation to the rest of the country. These policies have been followed over a long period, and the achievements in human development created a conducive environment for a significant decline in rural poverty, and eventually also an increase in growth rates.

In the case of West Bengal too, economic growth has been very weak in the first two decades, rising significantly only in the nineties to a per capita income increase of 5 per cent per annum. However, there was a significant decline of 41 percentage points in the rural poverty ratio most of which occurred in the period before the nineties. According to the Plan document, the states policy of increasing the access of the rural poor to assets through land reforms might have helped in spreading income earning opportunities more evenly and contributed to a major decline in rural poverty in the period.