Many states seen as backward have taken giant leaps in poverty reduction since 2004-05, Planning Commission data show.
Bihar’s below-poverty-line (BPL) population has gone down by a whopping 21 percentage points (54.4 % to 33.74 %) from 2004-05 to 2011-12. Madhya Pradesh has seen a dip of 17 percentage points in BPL population (48.6 % to 31.6 %), Uttar Pradesh 11 percentage points (40.9 % to 29.43 %) and West Bengal 15 percentage points (34.3 % to 19.98 %).
These four states – importantly – comprise nearly 40 % of Indian population.
Moreover, Bengal has a smaller proportion of the poor than developed Karnataka (20.91 %). Also, it is just 2-3 percentage points behind developed states Gujarat (16.63 %) and Maharashtra (17.35 %) in terms of proportion of BPL population. The latter two have also, however, seen huge declines in BPL populations (15 percentage points and 21 percentage points, respectively)
However, reduction of poverty figures isn’t impressive east of Bengal. In Assam, the percentage of BPL people has gone down by just 2-3 percentage points (34.4 % to 31. 98 %). Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland have, in fact, seen the proportion of BPL population rise. In Nagaland, the BPL population has doubled from 9 to 18.8 %.
States with the least proportion of poor are Goa (5 %), Kerala (7 %), Himachal Pradesh (8 %), Sikkim (8 %), Punjab (8 %) and Andhra Pradesh (9 %), and the ones with the highest proportion are Chhattisgarh (39.9 %), Jharkhand (36.9 %), Manipur (36.89 %), Arunachal Pradesh (34.67 %), Bihar (33.74 %) and Odisha (32.59 %).
Ironically, Chhattisgarh is touted to have the best public distribution system.