There is no debate: There has been a persistent decline in poverty in India

Source: The post is based on the article “There is no debate: There has been a persistent decline in poverty in India” published in the Indian Express on 4th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Relevance: Explaining how poverty fell faster after 2011.

News: The recent release of the NFHS data for 2019-21 allows for a detailed analysis of the progress in the reduction of absolute poverty and related determinants like nutrition. The data reveals that poverty fell faster after 2011.

About India’s poverty estimation through NFHS

Poverty did decline between 2011-12 and 2017-18 or 2019-20. This is because policymakers and academics have given a higher priority to the poverty-reducing properties of inclusive growth rather than growth per se.

The NFHS surveys are part of a multinational attempt to provide estimates of multidimensional poverty. Its computation rests on estimates of poverty according to 10 different indicators. The deprivation index for each indicator is the per cent poor (deprived) according to that indicator.

How can one know poverty fell faster after 2011?
Poverty rate after 2011
Source: Indian Express

Let’s consider 2005 to 2011 as P-1 and 2011 to 2021 as P-2.

a) Multidimensional poverty declined at a compounded annual average rate of 4.8% per year in P-1 and more than double that pace at 10.3% a year during P-2.

b) Every single household survey or analysis has shown that consumption inequality declined during P-2. This is consistent with the above finding of highly inclusive growth during P-2.

Note: Except for the 2017-18 dubious NSS survey, India makes public all of its data. In contrast, unit-level poverty data on China is not even made available to the World Bank, a body authorised to publish country-level estimates of poverty.

Read more: We’ve made significant progress on poverty reduction
What made the growth so inclusive and ensured poverty fell faster?

A major factor behind the inclusive nature of growth during P-2 is the focus of government policies on each of the individual indicators indicative of a dignified standard of living. Such as, a) Slow-moving variables such as housing, access to cooking fuel, sanitation, etc, have witnessed a remarkable increase, b) Close to one-third of Indians were deprived of electricity till as recently as 2014. It was only after Saubhagya Yojana India managed to electrify every village, and eventually households, c) Jan Dhan Yojana which made financial inclusion a reality in India, especially for women, d) Modern cooking fuel is provided through the Ujjwala Yojana, e) Jal Jeevan Mission has increased the rural piped water coverage from 17% in 2019 to above 54% at present.

All these have ensured the benefits of growth are equitably distributed across a wider class of citizens.

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