8 Indian states = 25 African nations: Oxford study on poverty

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Jun 26, 2015 11:03 IST

There are 1.6 billion people living in multidimensional poverty across the world and nearly 440 million of them are in eight large Indian states, according to a new analysis using a unique index developed at the University of Oxford.

The eight Indian states that have similar number of poor as in 25 African countries are Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan and West Bengal. The poorest region in south Asia is Bihar, the analysis states.

In 2010, the Oxford analysis had concluded that there were more poor in India than in sub-Saharan Africa. Its 2014 analysis said the largest number of people classified as ‘destitute’ among developing countries was in India.

Sabina Alkire, director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, told Hindustan Times on Thursday that the least poor Indian states according to the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in 2015 remained the same as in the 2010 analysis.

They are: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Mizoram, Goa and Delhi.

The 2015 analysis is based on the last available data from India, Alkire said, and added that as per poverty estimation of seven south Asian countries, Afghanistan is the poorest, followed by India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.

“Our measure of destitution, which identifies a subset of poor people as destitute if they experience a number of extreme deprivations like severe malnutrition, losing two children, having all primary-aged school children out of school, and using open defecation,” she said.

The destitution results for South Asia “are significant”, Alkire said. Afghanistan has the highest rate of destitution of 38%, followed by India at a “troubling” 28.5% (over 340 million people).

“But interestingly Bangladesh has much lower rate of destitution than either Nepal or Pakistan, showing that the country has alleviated the worst forms of deprivations,” she added.

“As the UN prepares to adopt 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) this September, which will determine the development agenda for the next 15 years, our findings serve as a powerful reminder of the extent of poverty reduction challenge ahead and the need for an energetic and coordinated response,” Alkire said.

The MPI is unique in capturing the simultaneous disadvantages experienced by poor people, such as malnutrition, education and sanitation, to provide a high-resolution lens on their lives. If people are deprived in one-third or more of ten (weighted) indicators, they are identified as MPI-poor.


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