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Some Indian states as poor as African nations: study

India's poorest states have per capita wealth comparable to some of the most war-torn and impoverished African countries, according to new analysis from The Economist magazine.

mumbai Updated: Jun 23, 2011 13:48 IST

India's poorest states have per capita wealth comparable to some of the most war-torn and impoverished African countries, according to new analysis from The Economist magazine.

The current affairs and business magazine assessed the gross domestic product (GDP), adjusted for local purchasing power, on a per capita basis for 32 Indian states and union territories and compared them to nations around the world.

GDP per person in eight Indian states was found to be less than $2,000, the weekly said on its website.

Bihar in the north -- India's third-most populous state with 95.8 million people -- has a GDP per person of $1,019, a dollar below Eritrea, which has suffered decades of conflict with neighbour Ethiopia.

Manipur, in the far east, was equivalent to HIV- and poverty-wracked Lesotho on $1,440, slightly behind central Madhya Pradesh, which compared to Benin in west Africa, a country blighted by under-development and corruption.

Uttar Pradesh, which with 195.8 million people has a bigger population than Brazil, was comparable to Kenya despite having India's second-best economy in terms of absolute GDP.

India, Asia's third-largest economy after China and Japan, has been reporting nearly double-digit growth in GDP for much of the last decade, but there are concerns it has not benefited most Indians.

The World Bank says that 42 percent of Indians -- 455 million people -- live on less than $1.25 a day.

The data also showed that even India's best-performing states economically were still only comparable to mid-ranking nations around the world.

Two tiny union territories, Chandigarh and Puducherry, and the small state of Goa had the highest levels of GDP per person of $6,000-$8,000, ranking them alongside St Vincent and the Grenadines, Namibia and Ukraine respectively.

Commercial, industrial and agricultural powerhouses Delhi and neighbouring Haryana, Maharashtra in the west and Punjab and Gujarat in the northwest all had rates of $4,000-$6,000.

That places them on a par with Turkmenistan (Delhi), Armenia (Haryana), Sri Lanka (Maharashtra), Fiji (Punjab) and Congo (Gujarat).

GDP per person in 15 Indian states and one union territory was $2,000-$4,000, equivalent to countries like Honduras or Cambodia.

Orissa in the east and Rajasthan in the northwest had rates equivalent to Sudan, which has suffered years of bitter civil conflict, resulting in tattered infrastructure and a humanitarian crisis.

State GDP figures were considerably lower than in India's rival China, which was the subject of a similar study in February this year.

Only two Indian states had GDP of more than $100 billion (Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh). Five grew to more than $50 billion. The majority were worth less than $25 billion.

In contrast 15 Chinese states had bigger GDP than Maharashtra; of those, 13 were above $200 billion while three were more than $500 billion, putting them on a par with countries like Switzerland and Indonesia.