Poverty and inequality

Poverty and inequality

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Please click here to access the key findings of the Suresh Tendulkar Committee Report on poverty, which was submitted in 2009.
According to the 11th Five-Year Plan of the Planning Commission

•    India has successfully reduced the share of the poor in the population by 27.4 percentage points from 54.9 in 1973 to 27.5 in 2004. Between 1973 and 1983, the HCR of the poor had declined from 54.9% to 44.5%, and it fell further to 36% in 1993–94 and to 27.5% by 2004–05

•    Some States have been particularly successful in reducing the share of the poor in the total population. In 2004–05, the States with the lowest HCR were J&K (5.4%), Punjab (8.4%), Himachal Pradesh (10%), Haryana (14%), Kerala (15%), Andhra Pradesh (15.8%), and Gujarat (16.8%); at the other end of the spectrum are Orissa (46.4%), Bihar (41.4%), Madhya Pradesh (38.3%), and Uttar Pradesh (32.8%)—which also happen to be among the most populous States of India.

•    The States that were formed recently (Chhattisgarh 40.9%, Jharkhand 40.3%, Uttarakhand 39.6%) have among them the highest poverty ratio

•    Four States account for nearly 58% of India’s poor population in 2004–05: Uttar Pradesh (19.6%), Bihar (12.23%), Madhya Pradesh (8.3%) and Maharashtra (10.5%). In 1983, these States (including undivided Bihar and Madhya Pradesh) accounted for 49% of India’s total poor population

•    The number of the poor barely changed over the last three decades, remaining constant over two decades before falling (3213 lakhs in 1973, 3229 lakhs in 1983, 3204 lakhs in 1993–94) to 3017 lakhs in 2004–05

•    In some States, the absolute numbers of the poor in the population has actually increased over the last three decades: in Uttar Pradesh (including Uttaranchal) from 535.7 lakhs in 1973 to 626 lakhs in 2004–05; in Rajasthan from 128.5 lakhs to 134.9 lakhs; in Maharashtra from 287.4 lakhs to 317.4 lakhs, and in Nagaland from 2.9 lakhs to 4.0 lakhs. The total number of poor has also increased in Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh) taken together from 276 lakhs to 341 lakhs and in Bihar (including Jharkhand) from 370 lakhs to 485.5 lakhs over the same period.

•    There are many States where the number of poor overall has remained roughly constant over the last two decades: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, and Mizoram.

•    There are states that have succeeded in reducing the absolute number of the poor in rural areas over the three decades from 1973 to 2004–05: Andhra Pradesh from 178.2 lakhs to 64.7 lakhs; Karnataka from 128.4 lakhs to 75 lakhs; Kerala from 111.4 lakhs to 32.4 lakhs; Tamil Nadu from 172.6 lakhs to 76.5 lakhs; and West Bengal from 257.9 lakhs to 173.2 lakhs.

•    The number of poor in rural areas in the country as a whole has declined from 2613 lakhs in 1973 to 2209 lakhs in 2004–05.

•    In urban areas the numbers of the poor has gone on increasing from 600.5 lakhs in 1973 to 808.0 lakhs in 2004–05.

•    Agricultural labour households accounted for 41% of rural poor in 1993–94 as well as in 2004–05.

•    Among social groups, SCs, STs, and backward castes accounted for 80% of the rural poor in 2004–05.

•    The mean body mass index (BMI) for SCs, STs, and OBCs is 5–10% below that for Others, and very close to the cut-off for malnutrition (>18.5). [BMI is a measure of a person’s nutritional status (weight for height, measured in kg per square metre, sq m, of height.)]

•    The percentage of female persons living in poor households was 28% in rural and 26% in urban areas in 1993–94, and 29 and 23 respectively in 2004–05. In contrast, the percentage of male persons living in poverty was 27 in rural and 26 in urban areas in 1993–94, and 27 and 23 in 2004–05. The lower percentage of female persons among the poor despite higher female poverty ratio was due to an adverse sex ratio—which itself is a reflection of the discrimination that women and girls face over their life-cycle.

•    The percentage of children below 15 years living in below poverty line (BPL) households constituted 39 in rural and 41 in urban areas in 1993–94 and 44 in rural and 32 in urban areas in 2004–05. Among the poor population, the percentage of children increased from 44 in rural and 39 in urban areas in 1993–94, to 46 and 42 respectively in 1999–2000.


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