India lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, recording the fastest poverty reductions according to the 2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).
The multidimensional poverty index from the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) track 101 countries on deprivations across ten indicators in health, education and standard of living.
The index captures both the incidence and intensity of poverty, so not restricting itself to tracking just income but also in terms of deprivation faced by people in their daily lives. Access to health, education, sanitation, drinking water, housing, cooking fuel among others are also studied.
In this context, India saw the number of people living in multidimensional poverty fall by almost half to 27.9 percent in 2015-16 from 55.1 percent in 2005-06, from 640 million to around 369 million.
UNDP MPI index reports state that "India demonstrates the clearest pro-poor pattern at the subnational level: the poorest regions reduced multidimensional poverty the fastest in absolute terms."
Cambodia, Bangladesh were the next poorest regions to reduce poverty fast.
Jharkhand has emerged as the poorest regions in the world that has improved the fastest. The state has reduced multidimensional poverty from 74.9 percent to 46.5 percent between 2006–2016.
The report says that India significantly reduced deprivations in key indicators: “assets, cooking fuel, sanitation and nutrition.” The data from the National Health and Family Survey round three and four (NHFS 2005-06 and 2015-16) was used for the MPI index survey and shows deprivation in nutrition has come down from 44.3 percent in 2005-06 to 21.2 percent 2015-16.
Child mortality has dropped from 4.5 percent to 2.2 percent in the 10 year period. The biggest improvement in cooking fuel and sanitation where deprivation has almost halved and more poor people have access to drinking water and electricity. Deprivation in housing and assets have also reduced considerably in India.
India was also among the only 4 countries, along with Cambodia, Haiti and Peru, where poverty reduction in rural areas outpaced that in urban areas–demonstrating pro-poor development.
Massive Inequalities Within Countries – Children Bear The Biggest Brunt
The Global MPI 2019 Report also highlighted the inequalities among the countries and also among the poor. For India, it says, "Traditionally disadvantaged subgroups such as those living in rural India, Muslims, the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and young children are still the poorest in India."
MPI 2019 studied 31 low income, 68 middle income and 2 high-income countries. The report states that 1.3 billion people are listed as “multi-dimensionally poor,” making it 23.1 percent people in the 101 countries studied.
But the children, under the age of 18, bear the biggest brunt of multi-dimensional poverty. Around 50 percent of the multi-dimensionally poor people are children.
And over a third are children under the age of 10. This puts the spotlight on the 2 billion multi-dimensionally poor children — 1.1 billion of whom are under age 10 — living in the 101 countries covered by the global MPI.
Over 85 percent of poor children are living in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The inequalities within the countries and amongst the poor is also massive. The report states that children are more likely than adults to be multi-dimensionally poor and deprived in all indicators.
"A higher proportion of children than of adults are multi-dimensionally poor and deprived in every one of the MPI indicators, and the youngest children bear the greatest burden. This is a clarion call for action.”So while the pro-poor schemes are working, it is only when the developing countries tackle the inequalities can they realistically achieve the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, namely ending poverty “in all its forms, everywhere."