India has done well in poverty alleviation and in on course to meet most of SAARC Development Goals, while some south Asian countries like Pakistan have been found to be lagging in the Regional Poverty Profile of SAARC Nations released on Friday by Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Aluwalia.
The poverty rate in south Asia in 2001 was 31.3 per cent, second to Sub-Saharan Africa, with the annual improvement rate of 2.49 per cent between 1991-2001. Still, the region will meet the Million Development Goals by 2015, the report said.
Even though poverty is falling, the SAARC secretariat, which produced the report, has expressed concern over increase in the number of unemployed among labour force in most countries in south Asia, thereby putting a question mark over impact of economic development. In India, the unemployment rate is 2.30 per cent, an increase from 1.91 per cent in 1980. Pakistan has highest unemployment rate in the labour force of 7.69 per cent.
The report, however, found that economic boom has not helped agricultural workers much as their shift to more productive non-farm employment has been too slow. Also, increase in share of regular waged and salaried workers had also not been impressive, the report said. Only white-collar workers has shown an impressive increase. “Gains in economic growth terms has not shown in employment,” the report said.