Sunday, January 4, 2009

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India


India, often described as peaceful, stable and prosperous in the Western media, remains home to the largest number of poor and hungry people in the world. About one-third of the world's poor people live in India. More than 450 million Indians exist on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank. It also has a higher proportion of its population living on less than $2 per day than even sub-Saharan Africa. India has about 42% of the population living below the new international poverty line of $1.25 per day. The number of Indian poor also constitute 33% of the global poor, which is pegged at 1.4 billion people, according to a Times of India news report. More than 6 million of those desperately poor Indians live in Mumbai alone, representing about half the residents of the nation's financial capital. They live in super-sized slums and improvised housing juxtaposed with the shining new skyscrapers that symbolize India's resurgence. According to the World Bank and the UN Development Program (UNDP), 22% of Pakistan's population is classified as poor.



There is widespread hunger and malnutrition in all parts of India. India ranks 66th on the 2008 Global Hunger Index of 88 countries while Pakistan is slightly better at 61 and Bangladesh slightly worse at 70. The first India State Hunger Index (Ishi) report in 2008 found that Madhya Pradesh had the most severe level of hunger in India, comparable to Chad and Ethiopia. Four states — Punjab, Kerala, Haryana and Assam — fell in the 'serious' category. "Affluent" Gujarat, 13th on the Indian list is below Haiti, ranked 69. The authors said India's poor performance was primarily due to its relatively high levels of child malnutrition and under-nourishment resulting from calorie deficient diets.

Indian media's headlines about the newly-minted Indian billionaires need to bring sharper focus on the growing rich-poor gap in India. On its inside pages, The Times of India last year reported Communist Party leader Sitaram Yechury's as saying that "on the one hand, 36 Indian billionaires constituted 25% of India’s GDP while on the other, 70% of Indians had to do with Rs 20 a day". "A farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes. The gap between the two Indias is widening," he said.

Today's San Jose Mercury News has a pictorial about grinding poverty in India done by John Boudreau and Dai Sugano. This heartbreaking pictorial illustrates the extent of the problem that India faces, a problem that could potentially be very destabilizing and put the entire society at the risk of widespread chaos and violence.

Here's a video clip from the Mercury News story:







Here's a video clip on world poverty:



Please make your contribution to the Hunger Project or Hidaya Foundation or Edhi Foundation to help alleviate hunger and poverty in South Asia.

Related links:

Growing Middle Class in Developing Nations
Poverty in Pakistan

A Broken People in Booming India

Hunger and Democracy
Grinding Poverty Defies China's Boom

Poverty News Blog

Begging for Pakistan's Needy

UN Millennium Development Goals in Pakistan

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

.Mr. Haq, good job on writing the true reality about India. In western media they glorify India ,even though India definitely possess the technology might but at a mediocre level compared to a developed nation. Due to their deep inbred caste system, rich poor gap is widening. India and Pakistan are very similar in many ways, but I had the opportunity to visit both countries, this is my opinion which might be incorrect and I apologize to be to judgmental or biased, following I noted: 1) same deceiving, unethical culture in both countries , 2)heavy duty corruption and unfairly use their religion to dominate their poor slave class segment of their population, 3)same cave man mentality Politicians, but better law and order situation in India, I noted after the soviet afghan war, security situation deteriorated in our major cities in Pakistan, 4)dirt and filth among all major cities, 5)no plan to dump sewerage the main source to prevent common infectious diseases, 5)India has superior infrastructure compared to Pakistan, largely due to British Raj's concentration to just coincidently build everything in areas that are now parts of India, because Provinces like Sindh, Baluchistan, even NWFP was barren and largely uninhabited before partition., 6)Better living standards in Pakistani cities than India, largely we enjoyed Foreign goods, India depended on their local production only, for example back 15 years ago until Rajiv Gandhi okayed foreign exports to India, you will see top of the line Japanese brand transportation use in Pakistani cities by rich and poor, while the Indians were driving Morris and ambassadors which polluted the whole city and lacked the basic comforts of a modern car 7)nutritional standards are extremely superior among the masses in Pakistan, 8)Pakistan armed forces are the best in the world, because with India's chronic bad intentions and its mega size it could have swallowed Pakistan in a second, it is because of our defense forces we are surviving till now as an independent nation.Long live Pakistani defense forces, long live Pakistan, 9) Iam against nuclear proliferations but we need to salute our Nuclear scientist Like Dr Khan that today we enjoy the independent free Pakistan 9)people who migrated to Pakistan and even original locals of Pakistan are lucky too, as in India they heavily discriminate Muslims due to their unfair system like for example medical student admissions in India first priority is the lower caste Hindu, then Brahman Hindu and last if any seat still available comes Muslim students, same thing happens in all top level government jobs, 10) just listen to speeches of Indian and Pakistani Politicians and their grooming, they reflect a corrupt, cave man mentality, poorly educated whose agenda is to make money overnight using religion, poverty etc. Mr. Haq,That was a well written article, I really enjoyed, you should definitely forward this article to all important news magazines like Times, Newsweek letters to editor , even Indian Pakistani blogs, as that will bring awareness in western media and also Indian/Pakistani media that instead of solving the sufferings of our poor masses, we are diverting our efforts for another god forbid expensive war. Both countries should pressurize their governments to work towards the betterment of a common man, instead of hidden political agendas, make them accountable for everything just like USA.

Ray Lightning said...

as in India they heavily discriminate Muslims due to their unfair system like for example medical student admissions in India first priority is the lower caste Hindu, then Brahman Hindu and last if any seat still available comes Muslim students, same thing happens in all top level government jobs

This is utterly bogus !

No Indian can ever be discriminated based on caste or religion. Period. If any discrimination exists, it is illegal and happens beyond the reach of law, which will hopefully change for the better.

India has a Muslim captain of the cricket team, a Muslim president (twice) and a currently serving Muslim vice-president. The richest man living in India is a Muslim (Azim Premzi) and the top actors & musicians of Bollywood are Muslims.

Extreme poverty exists primarily in the northern states of India : Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. They are overpopulated and the population is not educated well. This problem of poverty will persist for at least several decades.

Actually, Pakistanis have a deep obsession with India. Indians are not comparing themselves to Pakistanis anymore.

Riaz Haq said...

Ray,
Your statement "Extreme poverty exists primarily in the northern states of India : Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa" ignores reality of deep and abject poverty and hunger in all parts of India. Isn't Mumbai with 6m poor in Maharashtra? How about Gujarat, which ranks worse than Haiti in hunger? Just look at India's state-by-state hunger data. Closing your eyes to these realities while shouting chauvinistic nonsense at Pakistanis ( while claiming that Pakistanis are obsessed with India) and beating war drums against Pakistan is not the solution to your problems. India's biggest threat lies within its own borders...the threat from 456 m poor and disenfranchised Indians who are being left behind as the right wing bigots talk about "Shining India".

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ray lightning, it is not bogus just because I bet you are not a Muslim and you have no idea the pain and sufferings of some Indian Muslims I know who are from Andhra pardesh and Maharashtra who have expressed this to me in detail. The famous Muslim names you are mentioning are just symbols primary reasons to get votes and show the masses everything is ok and its a united India.But majority do suffer because of their caste and religious beliefs, that’s why thank god 60 years ago Pakistan was created. It’s not obsession with India, but always the regional threat you offer us since partition, where there is no choice left but to make you aware the reality. Pakistanis have no animosity against Indians, we love your bollywood movies, but every few years Indian war drums, so Pakistan feels obligated and end up cooking plans to counter this threat for their survival and Independence. Educated people like us need civilized dialogue/cultural exchanges and for sake of the future generations and be ready to tolerate all these fanatics evil actions from time to time on both sides until we achieve a real lasting peace.

Anonymous said...

Whats going on in India, is this really true?, please click link below, this is really interesting :

http://www.theindianblogger.com/newsmakers/goonda-raj-of-raj-thackeray-in-mumbai/

HinduYuva said...

Hey!How are you guys doing? I was reading the posts. Lets make it Bharat Vs Pakistan. Lets make it Bharat and Pakistan. Wow, this suits me. I have never been to Pakistan. The info on Pak is trickling at the most where as info on India is all over the place, in different shades. First, its freedom of speech and then the resources.The development in India is faster and much even than Pakistan because of Democracy and may be too many interest groups . Pakistanis are brilliant, I had friends from pak in USA. But again, the gap between the haves and have nots is huge, very huge. In Pak unlike in India, some of the populations are ignored of their existence for various reasons. On the whole, the situation is similar. Infact, the Hindu blood or Vedic blood is more in Pakistani land than in India. I love to have as many people comment on this as possible.

Anonymous said...

In a country of blood sucking Jaydev, what do you expect Riaz.

Riaz Haq said...

In what could be thoroughly embarrassing for the US, its cities have been found to have levels of inequality as high as those in African and
Latin American cities. In contrast, western Europe, on average, has the most egalitarian cities in the world, according to a UN report based on Ginni coefficient. Gini coefficient is a statistical tool normally used to measure inequality at the national level and to measure inequality at the city level. The international alert line for inequality is 0.4. If a country's score is above that mark it signifies unacceptable levels of inequality.


"Today, China has the highest level of consumption inequality in the Asia region, higher than Pakistan (0.298), Bangladesh (0.318), India (0.325), and Indonesia (0.343), among others," states the report.

Among the Asian nations mentioned in this October 2008 UN report, Pakistan is more egalitarian than the India, Bangladesh, China and Indonesia. Based on all the UNDP data, Pakistan does not have the level of hunger and abject poverty observed in India or Bangladesh.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/Inequalities_stark_in_US_cities/articleshow/3656239.cms

Indian Sindhi said...

pakistan is a secular country and therefor it drove out Sindhis out of their motherland.....

i think are rapist has no right to call for other person being guilty or not for the crime of sexual harassment. in this case i would like a pakistani intellectual to tell me are they sorry for what they have done to sindhis????? and after you apologies talk about the Muslims in India.....

Statistics is an easy tool to hide the facts.....India has more larger middle class than pakistan.

the property rates of mumbai is equivalent to that of new york so any person living in the city and owns a legal house here is a millionaire by default.....

mumbai enjoys a wonderful and luxurious lifestyle that no pakistani city can offer. can any city of pakistan brag itself infront of Mumbai....Mumbai has created stars who are famous around the world and is there any pakistani city who has done that???????

My dearest old neighbor, sindhis wehere forced out of karachi trust me my grandfather was......we came to India as refuges and today sindhis own the highest number of educational institute across mumbai......

karachi had got it glories due to sindhis you are just living on our royalty.....

India is a land of of opportunity some make it and many do not but the entire journey is safer and better than the world around while pakistan as the world calls it is the epicenter of world terrorism....by closing your eyes to bright shining India paksitan will never progress and if it believes that by doing that it can prove that India is dark and dream pakistan is better than snap out a dreams build no reality and facts are you are begging infront of IMF and not INDIA which is rated as the second fastest growing economy even in the global doom Indian GDP has grown by 7%.. remember that the SUN also black spot and India is no perfect child of universe......it has its drawbacks but do not just compare the drawback lets also compare glory.

Who has more millionaires India or pakistan????? who has more billionaires India or pakistan?????

Also who helped the sindhis and forced them out of their motherland??? who India or pakistan?????

waiting for reply.......answer honestly......if you have the quality be honest to yourself......for me i know my facts well i do not need a soul searching to be done by me

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Sindhi,
While I sympathize with you and your family for the loss you suffered from partition of India, it seems you and your fellow Hindu Sindhis have done fairly well after the events of 1947. That's why you are so self-centered as to discount the suffering of all others, including fellow Muslims in India. You have a self-serving attitude that allows you to dismiss hard data about the vast rich-poor divide and the suffering of 456m poor and hungry fellow citizens in India. My advice to you is to acknowledge the facts and the data as they are rather distract your attention and the attention of others from it. Acknowledgment is the first step toward solving any problem. As you say, you need to answer your own questions honestly without adding extraneous BS. If you don't, you should be prepared to eventually face the wrath of the vast number of poor and destitute citizens of your adopted land.

Anwar Shaikh said...

Dear Riaz,
Thank you for this wonderful post. To us Indians, this is not a news. Most of us know that grinding poverty (as well as many other problems) exists in India. Most of us are also sure that as we have overcome many other problems, we will overcome this also.

What makes me wonder is that why should a Pakistani concern himself about Indian society? Most of the time the underlaying reason is malice and envy. On my part I prefer to be concerned about my own community(India) than about others.

Few others have commented about discrimination Muslims face in India. Since I have first hand experience living in India, I can say this is absolute bullshit. In a vast and heterogeneous society like India, there will always be few instances of discrimination, but that does not make for any systematic discrimination. Average Hindus have no ill will towards average Muslims. Thus in India secularism is a cultural norm, and not merely a constitutionally imposed requirement. Similarly democracy in India is for real. People living in feudal societies like Pakistan can have no inkling how much democratic empowerment can transform a society.

On the final note, I think Pakistani people will always ill-mouth about India to justify the foolish choice of Jinnah to divide South Asian Muslim community into two. Hindus had a better sense to remain united and also to accommodate other communities. On our part we do not even care if Pakistan exists or not. All we want to say, stop exporting terrorism to our shores and leave us alone.

- Anwar Shaikh

Anonymous said...

I'm hugely amazed at the viewpoints presented by Pakistani bloggers which are verily India Centric and have got no pith in them.

Pakistan is no match to INDIA in any realm of existence. It's factually ridiculous to put at par with each other.

India has a civilization of millenniums whereas Pakistan is born out of a demented mentalities of a group of Islamic zealots hence bereft of any civilization to identify with.

It never occurs to us to think or discuss about Pakistan at any given time unless there is an act terrorism committed in our land. Why should we think of a populace who severed this pristine country in the name of a most despised religion on the earth.

Look around and you will find that some mindless act is committed by Muslim somewhere because they are being discriminated against or being persecuted and hence they are fighting for their self determination.

Please explain to me in Indian context Muslims would verily be termed as the descendents of Mohammad Gori who was an aggressor. And now these uncouth parasite seeks to have their rightful claim on our land. And our gullible and most effeminate leader called Nehru was cause for all the trouble India face today whether it is Pakistan or Kashmir.

Please keep your trap shut.

Ray Lightning said...

Riaz

I am not a chavunistic Indian. On the contrary, I only respect humanism and prefer that no countries existed.

You, on the contrary, are a right wing commentator of Pakistan trying to grab a left-wing clothing because it currently suits the anti-American feeling in Pakistan. The reality is that Pakistan has been joined at the hip with USA ever since its inception. Throughout history, it supported USA during the worst periods of aggression.

I don't deny that poverty exists in India. How can I ? But the progress of India in eradicating hunger, illiteracy and disease has been remarkable. By the time the British left 60 years ago, India was amongst the worst in all the indices. Now it is doing quite well in comparison. Most of the progress in eradicating poverty has been achieved after the economic liberalization of the 1990s. And the urban poverty (as visible in the slums of Mumbai) is much lower than rural poverty. Coastal and south-Indian states are doing much better than landlocked states. But it will not be long before the northern states catch up.

Anonymous,

I am from Andhra Pradesh and lots of my good friends are Muslims. So I know what I am talking about. If you feel thankful that Pakistan has been created, good for you. India's Muslims are happy to remain in India. As Maulana Abul Kalam Azad has said, .Full eleven centuries have passed by since then. Islam has now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism. If Hinduism has been the religion of the people here for several thousands of years Islam also has been their religion for a thousand years. Just as a Hindu can say with pride that he is an Indian and follows Hinduism, so also we can say with equal pride that we are Indians and follow Islam. I shall enlarge this orbit still further. The Indian Christian is equally entitled to say with pride that he is an Indian and is following a religion of India, namely Christianity.. This is how it works in India.

Anonymous said...

It is just too comical how some of these Indian nationalist cannot take any criticism of glorious nation of India. Only thing left for them is to make up stuff about Pakistan to feel good about themselves.

Bangalore Photoblog said...

You should read this from New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/stevecoll/2008/12/positive-influe.html

"Ten days in India will remind anyone of the joys of competitive, entertaining, jingoistic, splashy, marginally-believable newspapers. (If they did not have Bollywood to cover, they would have to invent it.) The “Shining India” formulations that have come to dominate recent American perceptions of the country are much too glib and politicized to be reliable, and yet there is no missing the glorious riot of moneymaking, hustling, showboating and collective dreaming that has overtaken India’s big cities."

Worth a look.

Also see what he has to say about Pak:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/stevecoll/2008/12/headline-news.html

Indian Sindhi said...

You have not answered my questions........answer them honestly and acknowledge what i am asking from you.....

i am a young 22 year old Mumbai fella according to the definition i belong to middle class and i earn Rs. 30000 and i have bought my own car.....thanks to my studies....

India has a population of 1.1 billion and large part of it in current time is middle class. we have more cities in Asia then any other country.....

The number of malls India has is larger than any other asian country.....we have acknowledged the need to grow and we have a vision for growth.....

atleast we do not be satisfy ourselves in misery by collecting data and saying that hey some country lacks here and we are point better than them so we are happy by that data.

India today is growing and has the largest number of graduates passing out in the country every year......where is pakistan in that comparison???

literacy in pakistan is much lesser than that in India go check any data and the situation is getting worse.....mr. pakistani intellectual write whatever data you want to write but what will you do when your future generations will not be able to read them???

sindhis in India have acknowledged that they were ripped off by pakistan but we have not stopped living because we believe that we can make the world a better place because we have ability to grow.

and you do not have any right to talk about Indian muslims they do not accept your theory that the terrorist who attacked mumbai was not a pakistani trust me they have not even allowed a grave for them

Indian muslims do not need a pakistani and if they thought that they would be in pakistan but they made a choice to live in India.

Muslims in India are Indians my best friend is a muslim and FYI he is working for Infosys a brand well known in the world........does pakistan have any self made branded company???

give me ten brands of pakistan well known around the world....because i hav have ten indian names and if you request i will post it for you.....

We have hungry people in country but atleast but they are decreasing......you have illiterate people and polulation of illiterate people is increasing and remeber lack of education is the base of all problems and India is bringing in revolution in education and we have more and more educatd people coming up......

Get a data and beat this fact.....i wish you have the guts to answer my questions about sindhis. come clean if you can.....

and remember the company intel and their child Pentium had a Indian father and you were the employee a pakistani.......HAHA. Indian did beat you over there too. better luck for the future if literacy prevails in you country.....will it???

And if yes can you tell me about your governments plan of action and how much success they have achieved till now....???? anyways there is a Indian flag on moon will there be a pakistani flag on moon..........come on paksiatni techie reply to that one too.....if you have answers

i am frank and if you are too then you will allow his post to be seen and also take my question seriously or else for me definitely you will be a escapist....reply to all the question i have raised till now fellow pakistani scholar

Indian Sindhi said...

Also the country i belong to Is INDIA your people made two parts of it India and pakistan and my land SINDH was in pakistan where i like all sindhis was forced out off.....

sindhis were never given a choice to adopt a country as we were forced out of our motherland....karachi is my ancestral city but i am forecd to live in mumbai because the pakistani forced us out......

why you do not fight for a sindh or sindhi cause but only for Kashmir and kashmiris????

does your justice look at religion before giving a verdict. that shows how racist you are.......tell me is the colour of muslim blood is gold and that of hindu is red and therefore their pain and sufering does not mean you anything????

why you do not raise voice for sindhis and their motherland??? or you have double standards and if you have then be frank about it. do not try to be an idealistic if you are not one

Jaydev,India said...

"blood-sucking"..I honestly have no idea why my green tinted, mentally bearded brothers call me that. You know I was a very moderate person..I became a blood-sucking bigot (2 out of 3 of my muslim fnds dont accept 9/11 is bin laden's job..its mossad+cia to discredit muslims..eew) very lately(plz dont blame RSS again...culprit is google/internet).Ha Ha.I am very opinionated on each and every topic so even if I join RSS they will throw me out..India is definitely under-developed and I don't think Indian media white-wash stuff(on the contrary..gives some bad publicity). Well there are millions of well-to ppl as well..so commercial television will only highlight "elitist" stuff like gossips of rich movie stars(and Taj-Oberoi attack not attack on CST which killed many poor ppl) that draws advertising revenues. What do u ppl expect..show live 24/7 open drains and garbage on streets? R u ppl nuts or something? I can state with Ahmenajad's conviction(or G.W.Bush's) that Muslims in India are not discriminated against. That is a BS pakis want to delude themselves with so that they get a substratum for their identity(credibility) which paki-land lacks. Some blow-backs against Muslims like in Gujarat with more than adequate provocation(ofcourse u wont buy it..Muslims cant do no harm from Algeria,Philipines,Chechnya to Pak..they r always victimised..yeah right!) doesnt mean institutionalized discrimination like in paki-land. I urge riaz (though ur heart is bleeding 1000s of miles in Gaza) to research state of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh(during BNP worst). I hope u will contribute a single piece for that issue(to keep a balance..;-)).Hindus demonstrating for Jamat-ul-Dawa won't count(That was the weirdest & unfunny stuff i have heard in a long time). Your MI or ISI tried such cheap tricks before and got exposed in western media(los angels times).(when there was firing on LoC..Pak Army brought western media to see results of Indian shelling on civilians..the old guy(narrating indian shelling atrocities) was exposed by LA times as a "story-teller"..telling different story to different journalists..[i hope u got the point])
Apparently western media isn't as dumb as pakis think.

Riaz Haq said...

Anwar Shaikh,

You said, "Since I have first hand experience living in India, I can say this is absolute bullshit".

Congratulations! You seem to be rather unique in your perspective given the data compiled by Sachar Commission, led by a former Indian chief justice, Rajender Sachar, Muslims were now worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables. Some 52% of Muslim men were unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% were unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 couldn’t read or write. While making up 11% of the population, Muslims accounted for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they held less than 5% of government jobs.

Anwar,
Maybe you should pay a little more attention to what is going on around you.

Riaz Haq said...

Bangalore Photoblog,
It just shows that Pakistan press and medias are far more self-critical than Indian media and the Western friends. If you get a chance, please read the post on "Peaceful, Stable, Prosperous India" by Pankaj Mishra on this blog
.
Here's an excerpt from it:

Apparently, no inconvenient truths are allowed to mar what Foreign Affairs, the foreign policy journal of America's elite, has declared a "roaring capitalist success story". Add Bollywood's singing and dancing stars, beauty queens and Booker prize-winning writers to the Tatas, the Mittals and the IT tycoons, and the picture of Indian confidence, vigour and felicity is complete.

The passive consumer of this image, already puzzled by recurring reports of explosions in Indian cities, may be startled to learn from the National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC) in Washington that the death toll from terrorist attacks in India between January 2004 and March 2007 was 3,674, second only to that in Iraq. (In the same period, 1,000 died as a result of such attacks in Pakistan, the "most dangerous place on earth" according to the Economist, Newsweek and other vendors of geopolitical insight.)

To put it in plain language - which the NCTC is unlikely to use - India is host to some of the fiercest conflicts in the world. Since 1989 more than 80,000 have died in insurgencies in Kashmir and the northeastern states.

Manmohan Singh himself has called the Maoist insurgency centred on the state of Chhattisgarh the biggest internal security threat to India since independence. The Maoists, however, are confined to rural areas; their bold tactics haven't rattled Indian middle-class confidence in recent years as much as the bomb attacks in major cities have.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Sindhi,
Congratulations! It's nice to hear you can afford a car in India.
At the same time, it seems you want others to feel your pain but you do not care for the suffering of others. Instead, you keep citing statistics of millionaires and billionaires in India that is completely irrelevant to the subject of abject poverty and widespread hunger in India.

Instead of demanding answers to your irrelevant questions, what you need is more introspection about yourself and your country.

Riaz Haq said...

Anwar,
You say, "What makes me wonder is that why should a Pakistani concern himself about Indian society? Most of the time the underlaying reason is malice and envy. On my part I prefer to be concerned about my own community(India) than about others."

I have never heard a more ridiculous argument. If you read my blog more often, you'll find that I have written many posts admiring India and the many accomplishments of Indians. Such positive commentary has been well received by my Indian readers and drawn the attention of the Indian media. It's only when I am critical of India that the entire saffron brigade goes into action accusing me of all sorts of bias and bigotry. In fact, many of the comments I have received from Indian nationalists are full of bigotry and naked chauvinism against Pakistanis in particular and and Muslims in general.

The worst of the commentary adorned with abusive language does not make it to the blog because I moderate it. What you see published is a relatively clean sample of the the comments received.

Indian Sindhi said...

"Instead of demanding answers to your irrelevant questions, what you need is more introspection about yourself and your country"

Questions of sindh may be irrelevant to you as it is not your motherland it is sindhis motherland......

i care about the poor but i am proud of the fellow citizens who have made it big whereas no pakistani has made it BIG.

i as an Indian acknowledge my rich and the poor of my country but you as a pakistani cannot acknowledge illiteracy or your millionaires as you cannot accept that your country illiteracy is icreasing and your country has no Millionaires or MNCs to booost about. for you economics is not relevant but double standard freedom terrorism is.......all criminals are no state actors but we are tallking about the nationality of those actors and they are pakistanis. you may close your eyes but your country has more grinding issues than India will ever have........i believe after ten year whether the map of pakistan will remain what it is now is the biggest challenge right now for pakistan.......so mind your house as it is on the verge of a break.......

while i move ahead with my life in normal conditions and enjoy the heaven India

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an CNN-IBN online poll result of its Indian audience:

Is Israel a role model for India when it comes to security?

Yes: 59 per cent

No: 41 per cent


http://ibnlive.in.com/news/war-on-terror-israels-the-way-to-go-with-pak/82023-3-single.html

This poll confirms my earlier post about India's middle class demanding India "do a Lebanon" in Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

Indian Sindhi, the answer to your question is PARTITION, it effected all ethnicities pathans, Punjabis, etc etc.By the way one of my friend was Sindhi Hindu, they never migrated and owned a huge house in Karachi and imported paper from China were multimillinaires.So probably your ancestors should have stayed back. Come on forget about India/Paki bashing, let’s defeat these extremists on both sides of the border through cultural exchanges and Dialogue. Pakistanis are just crazy about your pretty bollywood actresses. Long live Pakistan. Mr. Riaz you have attracted a large audience in such a short time, long live Mr. Riaz, I remember few days back when you posted this article, there were only 2 comments, one of mine honest comparison among the 2 South Asian rivals.These Indians cannot handle the truth.

Anonymous said...

Please watch this, its so funny, with these type of Politicians in majority on Indian side, how pakistan can expect peace from our neighbours and what diplomatic language they will understand, its bad really, please watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhequbKB-bc

Indian Sindhi said...

@ anom

regarding migration of sindhis it was a forced migration and the world acknowledges those facts i do not know whether pakistani history books have facts as they present a bias picture of pakistan. those books are even disputed by UNESCO.......

regarding your friend he might be abbreviation but if you want i can give the entire history behind with facts which if you are interested can go through.......

Sindhis need an answer from pakistan about the wrong doing that pakistan has done to them......pakistan must apologies to sindhis

Anwar Shaikh said...

Hi Riaz,
I knew that you would bring up Sachchar Committee report the moment talk of discrimination against Muslims is initiated. Since, again living in India, I know how and for what reason these reports are compiled, I do not take the "truth" revealed in these reports for granted. My case can better be understood by referring to U.C. Banerjee committee report and Nanavati committee report about Gujarat riots. The "truth" revealed by these reports are diametrically opposite. You can choose between these two "truths" according to your political and community affiliations. So much for these reports.

Another point, "poor performance implies discrimination" is so hopeless a logical fallacy that I don't expect an intelligent person to fall into it. If Indian Muslim community has performed poorly compared to other communities, the reasons are varied and complex, but to smell discrimination into the statistics compiled by Sachchar committee is childish. I also don't understand why only Muslim community has been discriminated against, while other minorities like Christean, Parsi and Sikh have done well. May be with your profound understanding of Indian situation, you can throw some light on this.

What we Indian Muslims don't need is the status of victimhood. We will do ourselves greater justice if instead of believing in the conspiracy theories by the likes of Mr.Sachchar, we ask ourselves -"If other communities can do well, why can not we?".

Final point- number of Muslim Nobel Prize winners in Science is far less than Jews. Who is discriminating against Muslims in countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Pakistan and preventing them from creating first rate Science? If you come up with a conspiracy theory (like a Jewish lobby in Nobel Prize committee), Mr. Sachchar will be delighted to know.

Anonymous said...

India Sindhi Sain Munjha - Cha budhayoun tha? Marn wanjhan key tour munjhan? towhan jo dil dado siah thee viyoh aan. Munhanjey elaiqy man sindhi hindu gharench ameer thee viyon aan. Hun key ko be maslo na aa..sain munjhe guzarish aa sindh tey sindhi no badnam karan dee zaroorat na aa.

Riaz Haq said...

Anwar,
I admire your emphasis on personal responsibility that Indian Muslims must take to move ahead even under difficult circumstances, as apparently you have been able to do. But it should not excuse the need for a level playing field and an end to systemic discrimination in Indian society as borne out by all of the data, official or anecdotal, that has been reported extensively by commissions and individuals, including my own personal visits and observations.

The Nanavati commission you mention was set up by Gujarat state government that was accused of aiding and betting massacre of Muslims in Gujarat. This commission was nothing more than an attempt by Modi to obfuscate the truth about Gujarat. Bannerjee report was genuine and it was supported by many independent accounts by foreign observers of the events in Gujarat, including Tehelka's investigative reporting. Modi is guilty as sin and there are no two ways about it. Modi and his kind are a stigma on Indian society and on the legacy of many of its outstanding leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi who was killed by an RSS member.

Anonymous said...

Iraq, India, Mexico deadliest for media
Updated at: 2235 PST, Wednesday, January 07, 2009
GENEVA: Iraq remained the deadliest country for media workers in 2008, followed by India and Mexico, although the number of deaths was down sharply from the previous year, a study showed.

A total of 109 journalists and support staff in 36 countries died while covering the news last year, most of them murdered because of their work, the International News Safety Institute (INSI) reported.

The figure was down from 172 such deaths in 2007, largely due to a decline in the number of media workers killed in Iraq. The death toll there fell to 16 from 65, reflecting a drop in overall violence, the institute said on Tuesday.

"Journalists in far too many countries continue to be targeted for murder for what they do," said Rodney Pinder, director of INSI, which provides security training for reporters covering dangerous situations.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, 252 journalists and other media workers such as translators and drivers have been killed in Iraq.

India and Mexico followed Iraq as the most dangerous places for media professionals with 10 deaths each. Eight journalists were known to have died in the Philippines according to INSI.

Anonymous said...

http://hdrstats.undp.org/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_PAK.html

Anonymous said...

Sir,

As per Human Development Index 2007-08, India is 128th on the Poverty Index and Pakistan 136th. 28% of India's population and 32% pakistanis live below the poverty line.

However, my point is as India and Pakistan, we should not be celebrating each other's poverty. Rather we should find solutions to solve this menace.

I am ashamed and angry the way both Indians and Pakistanis are debating this issue on your blog.

I think you must delete all these posts simply to ensure that innocent hot headed fools of both countries do not get excited with this interaction and continue the hate campaign.

Also being anti-India in Pakistan and anti-Pakistan in India might give us some short term admiration, but it would be disastrous in long term.

I hope you appreciate.

Thanks.

N
Mumbai, India

Riaz Haq said...

Anonymous,

"..my point is as India and Pakistan, we should not be celebrating each other's poverty. Rather we should find solutions to solve this menace."

I fundamentally agree with your point. South Asia as a whole suffers massive deprivation on most basic human needs. The point of my post is that, as South Asian nations gain wealth and prosperity, many on the lowest rungs of society are being left out. Based on all the data such as hunger index, Ginni coefficient, real income poverty (not the contrived human poverty index as defined by UNDP), India does particularly badly compared with Pakistan. But, instead of paying attention to the common enemy, the "hot heads" as you put it, are engaged in war talk which will hurt most those who have the least go begin with. We need to get our priorities straight and find a way to lift people up rather than tear each other down.

Jadev,India said...

the "hot heads" as you put it, are engaged in war talk which will hurt most those who have the least go begin with. We need to get our priorities straight and find a way to lift people up rather than tear each other down.

Give that advise to your Army.This situation is precipitated solely by elements in Pak military.Jehadi-Military complex in your country are threatening the whole world...just yesterday UK MI5 chief was on record saying 75% of terror leads now under investigation and surveillance are from Pakistan. Pakistan is today as somebody said is an international migraine.

My problem with your argument is that when you say.."we need to work together in terror.. we need to alleviate poverty etc"..is hyphenating India with Pakistan and also assumes that we Indians share equal responsibility for the mess which is clearly not the case. You are also of the view that everything is becoz of "Kashmir issue" not solved. Like if that is "solved"(euphemism for giving rest of Kashmir to your Army on the platter) every problem will vanish into thin air. The reality is Pak will never mend its ways. The todays' angels like Nawaz Sharif is the guy who gave go ahead for the 1993 Mumbai blasts which killed more than 300? people. The right approach most analyst here are fast converging is to dismember Pakistan by covert ops.

Anonymous said...

"The right approach most analyst here are fast converging is to dismember Pakistan by covert ops." as per Mr Jadev.

Mr Jadev, your last comments in this post signifies as if you are the prime minister of India or Chief of RAW, where are you getting all these sensitive information. When USA with all its might could not succeed in this arena, where do you think the Indians stand in this global economic turmoil .Please do your homework on current world affairs before you comment and please come out of your supernatural fantasy land.You are just a commoner local citizen as all of us in this bog. I read detail updated news everyday, plus I have satellite TV with different news channels at home, where you got that BS specially the view about British intelligence and their conclusions.Even if it was really their opinion as you quoted, it has no value, British Raaj is outdated a dinosaur in Global arena, its just like speculating about MARS and commenting about the prestigious and brave Pakistani army, in other words, you dont know. 60 years of unnecessary threat form mega India, what are your expectations that Pakistani defense forces should immediately become Saints overnight, just because you and other Indians prefer that type of perfect comfortable scenario.

Anonymous said...

So Jaydev is accepting the responsibility of spreading terror in Kashmir and Balochistan. Indian Sindhi....read Jaydev carefully to understand the mind of sick indian extremists. Jaydev - You are all set ...in a self destruction mode...

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr.Anonymous & Mr.Jaydev,

This interaction will not take you anywhere. Trust me.

You are those true blue indians and pakistanis that our politicians fool all the time and get elected.

Please give me one constructive suggestion on how we can move forward as brothers and not enemies.

I had a friend of mine visit Pakistan during India Pakistan series in 2005. He was numbed by the way pakistanis treated him in their land. He now has a lot of pakistani friends who also visit him in India.

Barring a few, all politicians in both countries are deceptive. Whether a Zardari/Gilani in Pakistan or a Narendra Modi/Advani in India. Unless we as common people decide to live harmoniously, how can we have peace around us?

As Gandhi said - An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

N
Mumbai
India


N
Mumbai
India

Anonymous said...

As Gandhi said - An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

You are absolutely right, but who has been the bully in last 60 years?
Lets start dialogue, peace talks etc and tolerate this nonsense from extremists on bothsides with patience and understanding.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC has a report on tale of two Indian women, both named Laxmi, who live totally different lives. One picks through garbage and the other heads a software dev team.

Here's an excerpt from the story:

"Indians need to stop believing that the country will continue to grow above 6% a year automatically, without any effort, and that our inevitable destiny is to become a world power," says Rajiv Kumar, an analyst from the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations in Delhi.

The development model adopted by India - which has resulted in an average growth of 8% in the last four years - also contributed to the inequality that now threatens to undermine it.

The index that measures the gap between the rich and the poor - the Gini coefficient - was stable throughout the 1980s, but shot up in the following decades and is still growing.

Similarly, the Indian states that hold the most wealth grow faster than the poorer states.

Alarmed by this disparity, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that the "tide of the Indian economy rises, but not all the boats are managing to rise with it".

In recent years, the growth of inequality, especially in rural India, strengthened extremist movements with Maoist tendencies, such as the naxalists, who preach social revolution and insurgency against the government.

Today, they are already present in 40% of the territory. The Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has already said that the naxalists are the main threat to India's security.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a report in the Indian media with an Indian official Syeda Hameed admitting that India is doing worse than Pakistan and Bangladesh on nutrition:

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement in the area despite big money being spent on it, says Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed.


'There has been an enormous infusion of funds. But the National Family Health Survey gives a different story on malnourishment in the country. We don't know, something is just not clicking,' Hameed said.


Speaking at a conference on 'Malnutrition an emergency: what it costs the nation', she said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during interactions with the Planning Commission has described malnourishment as the 'blackest mark'.


'I should not compare. But countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better,' she said. The conference was organised Monday by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region.


According to India's National Family Health Survey, almost 46 percent of children under the age of three are undernourished - an improvement of just one percent in the last seven years. This is only a shade better than Sub-Saharan Africa where about 35 percent of children are malnourished.


Hameed said the government's Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, which is a flagship programme to improve the health of women and children, had not shown results despite a lot of money being spent on it in the past few years.


'We have not been successful in improving the status of health of our women and children,' she added.


The annual budget for women and child development (WCD) ministry in 2008-9 is Rs.72 billion. Of this, Rs.63 billion is for ICDS.


According to Unicef, every year 2.1 million children in India die before celebrating their fifth birthday. While malnutrition is the primary reason behind it, other factors like lack of health facilities, hygiene and good nutrition compound the problem.


Narrating her experiences while travelling the length and breadth of the country, Hameed said in many areas women were still starving and finding it difficult to feed their children.


She said emphasis should be given on inclusive breast-feeding for six months after a child's birth, maternity benefits for pregnant women and food fortification of ready to eat mid-day meals.


'We are concerned and worried that we are losing human beings in such a manner. It is a disappointment and a blot. We have just improved a fraction and we are determined that we do not let it get worse,' she said.


'It is frustrating to see this dark and dismal picture of undernourishment in the country. We have to learn the experiences from other South Asian countries,' she added.


The NFHS survey found that levels of anaemia in children and women had worsened compared to seven years ago -- around 56 percent of women and 79 percent of children below three years are anaemic.


Vinita Bali, managing director of Britannia Industries, said the problem was very critical and action was needed from both the government and the industry.


She said their 'Tiger' biscuits had been fortified with iron and had shown amazing results. These biscuits have been provided to children in Hyderabad with a midday meal.


'We conducted a study and found that in six months of taking these biscuits, the haemoglobin increased. The biscuits are not only healthy but also fortified,' she said.


'There should be a balance between prevention and treatment. Our focus should be to target the most vulnerable and then only we will have a much healthier future for India,' he added.

http://newshopper.sulekha.com/india-worse-than-pakistan-bangladesh-on-nourishment_news_927008.htm

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an LA Times report on the vicious cycle of poverty in rural India:

India has long been plagued by unscrupulous moneylenders who exploit impoverished farmers. But with crops failing more frequently, farmers are left even more desperate and vulnerable.

Reporting from Jhansi, India - She stops for long stretches, lost in thought, trying to make sense of how she's been left half a person.

Sunita, 18, who requested that her family name not be used to preserve her chance of getting married, said her nightmare started in early 2007 after her father took a loan for her sister's wedding. The local moneylender charged 60% annual interest.

When the family was unable to make the exorbitant interest payments, she said, the moneylender forced himself on her, not once or twice but repeatedly over many months.

"I used to cry a lot and became a living corpse," she said.

Sunita's allegations, which the moneylender denies, cast a harsh light on widespread abuses in rural India, where a highly bureaucratic banking system, corruption and widespread illiteracy allow unethical people with extra income to exploit poor villagers, activists say.

But here in the Bundelkhand region in central India that is among the nation's more impoverished areas, the problem is exacerbated by climate change and environmental mismanagement, they say, suggesting that ecological degradation and global warming are changing human life in more ways than just elevated sea levels and melting glaciers.

"Before, a bad year would lead to a good year," said Bharat Dogra, a fellow at New Delhi's Institute of Social Sciences specializing in the Bundelkhand region. "Now climate change is giving us seven or eight bad years in a row, putting local people deeper and deeper in debt. I expect the situation will only get worse."

An estimated 200,000 Indian farmers have ended their lives since 1997, including many in this area, largely because of debt.

A 2007 study of 13 Bundelkhand villages found that up to 45% of farming families had forfeited their land, and in extreme cases some were forced into indentured servitude. Tractor companies, land mafia and bankers routinely collude, encouraging farmers to take loans they can't afford, a 2008 report by India's Supreme Court found, knowing they'll default and be forced to sell their land.

"While a few people borrow for social status or a desire to buy a new motorcycle, in most cases it's for sheer survival," Dogra said. "When they see their children starving after several years of crop failures, many feel they have no choice."

Recent amendments to a 1976 law in Uttar Pradesh state have increased the maximum punishment for unauthorized money-lending to three years in jail, up from six months, but many loan sharks are well-connected and elude prosecution. The law specifies that lenders must obtain a state license, but the requirements for obtaining it can be vague, a situation that critics say gives bureaucrats significant leeway to enact arbitrary rules and exact questionable fees.

"I take occasional loans when we're desperate," says Jhagdu, 50, a farmer in Barora, 60 miles south of Jhansi, sitting on his haunches with teeth stained red from chewing betel nut. "When there's no rain, like now, you can't repay for a year, so the amounts can double."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are "Reflections on India" published by an American traveler-blogger:

First, pollution. In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I don't know how cultural the filth is, but it's really beyond anything I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and excrement are like a garbage dump. Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to make me physically ill. Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels churning was an all to common experience in India. Dung, be it goat, cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and defecating anywhere, in broad daylight. Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it. Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and far to few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how dangerous the air is for one's health, not how good it is. People casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads. The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey were Trivandrum--the capital of Kerala--and Calicut. I don't know why this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will cut into India's productivity, if it already hasn't. The pollution will hobble India's growth path, if that indeed is what the country wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a country, in the small 'c' sense.)

The second issue, infrastructure, can be divided into four subcategories: roads, rails and ports and the electrical grid. The electrical grid is a joke. Load shedding is all too common, everywhere in India. Wide swaths of the country spend much of the day without the electricity they actually pay for. With out regular electricity, productivity, again, falls. The ports are a joke. Antiquated, out of date, hardly even appropriate for the mechanized world of container ports, more in line with the days of longshoremen and the like. Roads are an equal disaster. I only saw one elevated highway that would be considered decent in Thailand, much less Western Europe or America. And I covered fully two thirds of the country during my visit. There are so few dual carriage way roads as to be laughable. There are no traffic laws to speak of, and if there are, they are rarely obeyed, much less enforced. A drive that should take an hour takes three. A drive that should take three takes nine. The buses are at least thirty years old, if not older. Everyone in India, or who travels in India raves about the railway system. Rubbish. It's awful. Now, when I was there in 2003 and then late 2004 it was decent. But in the last five years the traffic on the rails has grown so quickly that once again, it is threatening productivity. Waiting in line just to ask a question now takes thirty minutes. Routes are routinely sold out three and four days in advance now, leaving travelers stranded with little option except to take the decrepit and dangerous buses. At least fifty million people use the trains a day in India. 50 million people! Not surprising that waitlists of 500 or more people are common now. The rails are affordable and comprehensive but they are overcrowded and what with budget airlines popping up in India like Sadhus in an ashram the middle and lowers classes are left to deal with the overutilized rails and quality suffers. No one seems to give a shit. Seriously, I just never have the impression that the Indian government really cares. Too interested in buying weapons from Russia, Israel and the US I guess.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on homeless deaths from cold in India:

Scores die in India every year, being ill-equipped to deal with extreme cold.

Estimates of the number of dead vary from 25 to 100 but these figures cannot be confirmed at present.

Fog in central Punjab region in neighbouring Pakistan has also shut down highways and affected railway and flight schedules.

A number of people have been injured in some minor accidents due to fog on Monday morning, the BBC's M Ilyas Khan says.

Intense cold

Heavy fog and a cold wave have disrupted life across northern India with temperatures dropping to zero degree Celsius in several places, including the city of Amritsar in Punjab.

Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are among the northern states which have been hit by intensely cold weather.

In Uttar Pradesh, scores of homeless people have died after being exposed to the intense cold.

The victims were mostly poor people who were sleeping on the streets or out in the open.

There are few homeless shelters in Indian cities and towns and although the authorities have distributed blankets and firewood, their efforts have been inadequate in the face of the extreme cold, says the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi.

Poor visibility because of dense fog has also affected rail and air traffic in the region with several flights and trains cancelled, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded.

On Saturday, the fog caused two separate train accidents in Uttar Pradesh leaving 10 people dead and nearly 50 injured.

Riaz Haq said...

There are an estimated 4.5 million Indian workers in just the GCC countries, about half of them in the UAE, according to the Financial Times.

The current difficulties in Dubai are exposing India's vulnerability to the possible economic collapse in the Gulf region. The fears are deepening that remittances, worth about $27bn a year, accounting for over 50% of total remittance inflows, from the Gulf to India. The United Arab Emirates is also one of India’s most important export destinations, accounting for about $17.5bn in trade or 10 per cent of India’s merchandise exports.

In spite of repeated tales of horror by Indian workers, the Islamic Gulf nations remain a powerful magnet for Indians seeking a way out of abject poverty and deprivation at home.

The village of Akhopur is in the district of Siwan in Bihar, India- from where about 75,000 people work in the Gulf. Most work as masons, helpers, carpenters, fitters and drivers, according to a recent story by the BBC.

They often labor in abysmal conditions with little or no facilities, but many say they can at least earn a living since opportunities back home are non-existent.

In Akhopur and neighboring villages of Bindusar, Orma and Khalispur, every household has at least two people working in the Gulf.

In the wake of recent Dubai troubles, the flow of returnees is ever growing, raising fear of rising h unger and poverty in resurgent India.

Often motivated by religious bigotry rather than than genuine concern, some Indians point to the unacceptable and deplorable treatment of the poor Indian workers in the "Arbi land".

But the real question is why are the Indian workers forced to accept degrading treatment in foreign lands?

Why is resurgent India so badly failing its people?

Why are 42% of Indians forced to live on less than $1.25 a day?

Why does Indian official Syeda Hameed believe "countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better" than India in terms of meeting basic nutritional needs of their children?

Why have an estimated 200,000 farmers in India committed suicide in the last ten years?

Why are 46% of India's children malnourished?

Why does the world call India a nutriti onal weakling?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent post by BBC's Soutik Biswas:

A sobering thought to keep in mind though. Impressive growth figures are unlikely to stun the poor into mindless optimism about their future. India has long been used to illustrate how extensive poverty coexists with growth. It has a shabby record in pulling people out of poverty - in the last two decades the number of absolutely poor in India has declined by 17 percentage points compared to China, which brought down its absolutely poor by some 45 percentage points. The number of Indian billionaires rose from nine in 2004 to 40 in 2007, says Forbes magazine. That's higher than Japan which had 24, while France and Italy had 14 billionaires each. When one of the world's highest number of billionaires coexist with what one economist calls the world's "largest number of homeless, ill-fed illiterates", something is gravely wrong. This is what rankles many in this happy season of positive thinking.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent report on high food prices in India which are likely to worsen food access for the poor and the children:

New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) India’s annual food inflation based on wholesale prices rose to 17.56 percent for the week ended Jan 23 from 17.4 percent the week before, according to official data released Thursday.
Prices of some essential items remained firm with vegetables dearer by 13.02 percent and fruits by 6.54 percent during the 52-week period. However, prices of onions fell 10.5 percent.

The limited data on the wholesale index released by the commerce and industry ministry further showed that while the index for primary articles fell 14.56 percent, that for fuels rose 5.88 percent.

India’s overall inflation rate, based on the wholesale prices index, had risen sharply to 7.31 percent in December from 4.78 percent the previous month mainly on account of higher food prices.

The price rise of some essential food items over the 52-week period:

- Potatoes: 44.91 percent

- Pulses: 44.43 percent

- Cereals: 13.37 percent

- Rice: 10.96 percent

- Milk: 13.95 percent

- Wheat: 15.96 percent

- Vegetables: 13.02 percent

- Fruits: 6.54 percent

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to discuss the issue of price rise with state chief ministers Feb 6. The meeting was earlier scheduled for Jan 27.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about Kerala's economy and social indicators:

Kerala defies all stereotypes of a "socially backward" Indian state - swathes of people living in abject poverty, men outnumbering women because of female foeticide, internecine caste politics.

Many of its social indicators are on par with the developed world and it has the highest human development index in India.

It also has the highest literacy rate (more than 90%) and life expectancy in India, lowest infant mortality, lowest school drop-out rate, and a fairly prosperous countryside.

That's not all.

In contrast to India's more prosperous states, like Punjab and Haryana, Kerala can boast a very healthy gender ratio - women outnumber men here.

Life expectancy for women is also higher than for men, as in most developed countries. Thanks to a matrilineal society, women, by and large, are more empowered than in most places in India.

When it comes to low population growth, Kerala competes with Europe and the US. And all but two districts of the state have a lower fertility rate than that needed to maintain current population levels.
----------------
And thanks to pioneering land reforms initiated by a Communist government in the late 1950s, the levels of rural poverty here are the lowest in India. Decent state-funded health care and education even made it the best welfare state in India.

Yet, today, Kerala is a straggler economy almost entirely dependent on tourism and remittances sent back by two million of its people who live and work abroad, mostly in the Gulf.

Joblessness is rife due to the lack of a robust manufacturing base - more than 15% in urban areas, three times the national average. More than 30 million people live in the densely populated state, a third of which is covered by forests

More people here are taking their lives than anywhere else in India. Alcoholism is a dire social problem - the state has India's highest per capita alcohol consumption. People migrate because there are no jobs at home.
---------------------------------
Clearly, Kerala needs a new contract between the state and its people to move ahead and build upon its enviable gains.

Riaz Haq said...

Part of the problem fueling anger and insurgencies is the growing number of the poor in India. Here's a recent Reuters report:

India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004, according to official estimates released on Sunday.

The poverty rate has risen to 37.2 percent of the population from 27.5 percent in 2004, a change that will require the Congress-ruled government to spend more money on the poor.

The new estimate comes weeks after Sonia Gandhi, head of the Congress party, asked the government to revise a Food Security Bill to include more women, children and destitutes.

"The Planning Commission has accepted the report on poverty figures," Abhijit Sen, a member of the Planning Commission told Reuters, referring to the new poverty estimate report submitted by a government panel last December.

India now has 410 million people living below the U.N. estimated poverty line of $1.25 a day, 100 million more than was estimated earlier, officials said.

India calculates how much of its population is living below the poverty line by checking whether families can afford one square meal a day that meets minimum nutrition needs.

It was not immediately clear how much more the federal government would have to spend on the poor, as that would depend on the Food Security Bill when it is presented to the government after the necessary changes, officials say.

India's Planning Commission will meet the food and expenditure secretaries next week to estimate the cost aspects of the bill, government officials said.

A third of the world's poor are believed to be in India, living on less than $2 per day, worse than in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, experts say.

http://in.reuters.com/article/topNews/idINIndia-47791820100418

Riaz Haq said...

India(49) has more than twice as many billionaires as Japan (22) which is a far richer country.

Indian and UNICEF officials concur that Indians are much worse off than Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in basic nutrition and sanitation.

Meanwhile, India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement in the area despite big money being spent on it, says Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed.

India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country.Lizette Burgers, chief water and environment sanitation of the UNICEF, said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia.

Most of the 8-9% growth has fattened the bottom line of a small percentage of India's population, with the rest getting poorer. India's Gini Index has increased from about 32 to 36 from 2000 to 2007.

India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004, according to official estimates released on Sunday. The poverty rate has risen to 37.2 percent of the population from 27.5 percent in 2004, according to a Reuters report.

The rising gap between abject poverty and obscene wealth in India is fueling anger, and insurgencies such as the Maoists'.

Riaz Haq said...

More people in India, the world’s second most crowded country, have access to a mobile telephone than to a toilet, according to a set of recommendations released today by United Nations University (UNU) on how to cut the number of people with inadequate sanitation.

“It is a tragic irony to think that in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones, about half cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet,” said Zafar Adeel, Director of United Nations University's Institute for Water, Environment and Health (IWEH), and chair of UN-Water, a coordinating body for water-related work at 27 UN agencies and their partners.

India has some 545 million cell phones, enough to serve about 45 per cent of the population, but only about 366 million people or 31 per cent of the population had access to improved sanitation in 2008.

The recommendations released today are meant to accelerate the pace towards reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on halving the proportion of people without access to safe water and basic sanitation.

If current global trends continue, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) predict there will be a shortfall of 1 billion persons from that sanitation goal by the target date of 2015.

“Anyone who shirks the topic as repugnant, minimizes it as undignified, or considers unworthy those in need should let others take over for the sake of 1.5 million children and countless others killed each year by contaminated water and unhealthy sanitation,” said Mr. Adeel.

Included in the nine recommendations are the suggestions to adjust the MDG target from a 50 per cent improvement by 2015 to 100 per cent coverage by 2025; and to reassign official development assistance equal to 0.002 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to sanitation.

The UNU report cites a rough cost of $300 to build a toilet, including labour, materials and advice.

“The world can expect, however, a return of between $3 and $34 for every dollar spent on sanitation, realized through reduced poverty and health costs and higher productivity – an economic and humanitarian opportunity of historic proportions,” added Mr. Adeel.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=34369&Cr=mdg&Cr1#

http://finalizations.com/sewage-water-pollution-and-its-environmental-effects.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts of Nehru University's Prof Jayanti Ghosh's video interview on Real News Network in which she says there is "no Indian miracle":

JAY: So in India you're saying there never was major reforms and it's getting worse.

GHOSH: Absolutely. If you look at the pattern of Indian growth, it's really more like a Latin American story. We are now this big success story of globalization, but it's a peculiar success story, because it's really one which has been dependent on foreign—you know, we don't run trade surpluses. We don't even run current account surpluses, even though a lot of our workers go abroad to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, to California, as IT workers. We still don't really run current account surpluses. So we've been getting capital inflow because we are discovered as this hot destination. You know, we are on Euromoney covers. We are seen as this place to go. Some of our top businessmen are the richest men in the world. They hit the Fortune top-ten index. All of that kind of thing. This capital inflow comes in, it makes our stock market rise, it allows for new urban services to develop, and it generates this feel-good segment of the Indian economy. Banks have been lending more to this upper group, the top 10 percent of the population, let's say. It's a small part of the population, but it's a lot of people, it's about 110 million people, which is a pretty large market for most places. So that has fuelled this growth, because otherwise you cannot explain how we've had 8 to 10 percent growth now for a decade. Real wages are falling, nutrition indicators are down there with sub-Saharan Africa, a whole range of basic human development is still abysmal, and per capita incomes in the countryside are not growing at all.

JAY: So I guess part of that's part of the secret of what's happening in India is that the middle, upper-middle class, in proportion to the population of India, is relatively small, but it's still so big compared to most other countries—you were saying 100, 150 million people living in this, benefiting from the expansion. And it's a lot bigger. It's like—what is it? Ten, fifteen Canadas. So it's a very vibrant market. But you're saying most of the people in India aren't seeing the benefits.

GHOSH: Well, in fact it's worse than that. It's not just that they're not seeing the benefits. It's not that they're excluded from this. They are part of this process. They are integrated into the process. And, in fact, this is a growth process that relies on keeping their incomes lower, in fact, in terms of extracting more surplus from them. Let me just give you a few examples. You know, everybody talks about the software industry and how competitive we are. And it's true. It's this shiny, modern sector, you know, a bit like California in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa. But when you look at it, it's not just that our software engineers achieve, it's that the entire supporting establishment is very cheap. The whole system which allows them to be more competitive is one where you are relying on very low-paid assistants, drivers, cooks, cleaners. You know, the whole support establishment is below subsistence wage, practically, and it's that which effectively subsidizes this very modern industry.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an April report in Wall Street Journal on new poverty estimates in India:

India's top policy-planning body raised its estimate of the nation's official poverty rate to 37.2% of the population from 27.5%, a key development as the government drafts legislation to give the poorest Indians a right to state-subsidized food grains.

The move by the country's Planning Commission, which wasn't announced formally but was confirmed by a senior government official, pegs the number of Indians in poverty at around 410 million—more than 100 million above the previous estimate. The change comes after critics said the earlier poverty estimate would leave too many destitute households out of the government's food-entitlement programs.

But the new figure is unlikely to please food activists and politicians who feel it still vastly underestimates the number of people in need of assistance.

"This is a very low, suppressed poverty line. We reject it," said Kavita Srivastava, an activist who has helped organize a "right to food" rally in the capital in recent days. The event has drawn more than 1,000 protesters from around the country. "As far as we're concerned, it still doesn't tell us the real number of poor."

Though India's economy emerged from the global downturn with solid gross domestic product growth of 7.2% in the year ended March 31, the country's poor are struggling to deal with year-to-year food inflation that is hovering near 17%.

Even before the impact of food prices, India was struggling with high malnutrition rates. The ruling Congress Party made food security a key plank in its platform in last year's national elections, in which it won a second term.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government has pushed for legislation that would provide 25 kilograms of wheat and rice per month to households deemed officially below the poverty line. They would pay a rate of about seven U.S. cents per kilogram. India already has a program in place to distribute about 35 kilograms of subsidized food grains to poor household but the rate is about 50% more expensive than what's being proposed now.

Moreover, there is no law that guarantees food subsidies—they are given at the central government's discretion. And the current program is plagued by corruption, with one-third of grains pilfered or rotting before reaching needy households.

Among the protesters at the rally in central New Delhi was 50-year-old Kesar Sahu, who lives in a slum in the city of Jaipur, in the state of Rajasthan, and supports herself and two daughters by sweeping floors and cutting vegetables at schools. The 1,000 rupees she earns in a good month isn't enough to make do, even with existing government subsidies, she said.

"We're only getting 35 kilograms (of food grains) now. We really need 50 kilograms to get by," Ms. Sahu said. "Everyone should get that much."

India calculates its poverty rate by estimating the percentage of households who can't afford to buy a basket of foodstuffs that would supply enough calories to meet basic nutritional needs. The new Planning Commission figure of 37.2%, which is based on recommendations submitted last year by a government-appointed panel, raises the poverty estimate in rural areas.

Riaz Haq said...

India's official poverty measure has long been based solely upon the ability to purchase a minimum recommended daily diet of 2,400 kilocalories (kcal) in rural areas where about 70 percent of people live, and 2,100 kcal in urban areas. Rural areas usually have higher kcal requirements because of greater physical activity among rural residents. The National Planning Commission, which is responsible for the estimate, currently estimates that a monthly income of about Rs. 356 (about US$7.74) per person is needed to provide the required diet in rural areas and Rs. 539 in urban areas. Factors such as housing, health care, and transportation are not taken into account in the poverty estimates, according to demographers Carl Haub and O.P Sharma.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a relevant piece from Deccan Herald:

The number of poor is multiplying along with the number of billionaires. Growth does not reflect the widening disparities.

There is something terribly wrong with growth economics. After all, 18 years after India ushered in economic liberalisation, the promise of high growth to reduce poverty and hunger has not worked. In fact, it has gone the other way around: the more the economic growth, the higher is the resulting poverty.

A report by an expert group headed by Suresh Tendulkar, formerly chairman of prime minister’s economic advisory council, now estimates poverty at 37.2 per cent, an increase of roughly 10 per cent over the earlier estimates of 27.5 per cent in 2004-05. This means, an additional 110 million people have slipped below the poverty line in just four years.

Poor multiplying
The number of poor is multiplying at a time when the number of billionaires has also increased. Economic growth however does not reflect the widening economic disparities. For instance, the economic wealth of mere 30-odd rich families in India is equivalent to one third of the country’s growth. The more the wealth accumulating in the hands of these 30 families, the more will be country's economic growth. A handful of rich therefore hide the ugly face of growing poverty.

If these 30 families were to migrate to America and Europe, India’s GDP, which stands at 7.9 per cent at present, will slump to 6 per cent. And if you were to discount the economic growth resulting from the 6th pay commission, which is 1.9 per cent of the GDP, India’s actual economic growth will slump to 4 per cent.
Anyway, the complicated arithmetic hides more than what it reveals. Poverty estimates were earlier based on nutritional criteria, which means based on the monthly income required to purchase 2,100 calories in the urban areas and 2,400 calories in the rural areas. Over the years, this measure came in for sharp criticism, and finally the Planning Commission suggested a new estimation methodology based on a new basket of goods that is required to survive, which includes food, fuel, light, clothing and footwear.
Accordingly, the Tendulkar committee has worked out that 41.8 per cent of the population or approximately 450 million people survive on a monthly per capita consumption expenditure of Rs 447. In other words, if you break it down to a daily expenditure, it comes to bare Rs 14.50 paise. I wonder how can the rural population earning more than Rs 14 and less than say even Rs 25 a day be expected to be over the poverty line. It is quite obvious therefore that the entire effort is still to hide the poverty under a veil of complicating figures.

India’s poverty line is actually a euphemism for a starvation line. The poverty line that is laid out actually becomes the upper limit the government must pledge to feed. People living below this line constitute the Below the Poverty Line (BPL) category, for which the government has to provide a legal guarantee to provide food. It therefore spells out the government subsidy that is required to distribute food among the poor. More the poverty line more is the food subsidy.

If the government accepts Tendulkar committee report, the food subsidy bill will swell to Rs 47,917.62 crore -- a steep rise over the earlier subsidy of Rs 28,890.56-crore required to feed the BPL population with 25 kg of grains. This is primarily the reason why the government wants to keep the number of poor low. In other words, the poverty line reflects the number of people living in acute hunger. It should therefore be called as a starvation line....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story about counting the poor in India for government's welfare aid program:

Alimunisha's home is a 150-square-foot mud floor with a roof of plastic tarp held up by bamboo sticks. The beds are burlap potato sacks. There's no running water, electricity or toilet. She can afford to feed her five children one meal a day on the income her husband earns selling traditional drums.
Redefining Poverty in India

But according to the Indian government, Ms. Alimunisha, who goes by only one name, isn't living in poverty.

That means her family doesn't qualify for aid aimed at the poorest Indians, including a program that provides free housing and subsidies that would cut her food costs by two-thirds.

India, one of the world's fastest growing economies, is now embarking on a major reassessment of poverty levels. The review will determine how many struggling people across the world's second-most populous nation, from urban slum dwellers like Ms. Alimunisha to landless farm laborers, will be counted among the ranks of the official poor and get government handouts. At a stroke, tens of millions of people could flood onto the welfare rolls.

Millions of destitute Indian families don't qualify for food subsidies or housing assistance because they are not officially considered poor. Now the government is reassessing its poverty levels.

Generating a reliable list of poor households has become a top priority for the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which has pledged to spread the benefits of India's rapid growth to the aam aadmi, or common man. The government launched its review of poverty as it drafts legislation to give the poorest Indians a right to subsidized food-grains.

Defining poverty is tough in any country. But deciding who is poor, and how much the government can afford to help them, is especially complex in a nation of 1.2 billion where average annual per capita income is $953 and roughly one in two children is malnourished.

Expanding the definition of poverty without ballooning social spending will be doubly difficult. India already spends $12 billion a year on food subsidies alone. The review could add 100 million people to the welfare rolls and $1.3 billion a year to the nation's food-subsidy bill, a burden on a country that is striving to trim public deficits.
------------------
But the most pressing question is how many people the program should cover. Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, who has made the "right to food" bill her pet project, was unhappy with early drafts based on the previous poverty count, because she thought too many people would be left behind, people familiar with her thinking say. Through a spokesman, Mrs. Gandhi declined to comment.

It isn't hard to see why politicians find it so tempting to expand the welfare rolls. In urban areas like Ismail Ganj, the Lucknow slum where Ms. Alimunisha lives, residents beg for water from nearby government buildings, often without success. They bath and defecate in the open.

Last September, the city bulldozed the slum prior to the planned inauguration by the state governor of a building across the street—the state's Human Rights Commission. The ceremony was canceled amid a backlash over the incident. Residents re-erected their mud and bamboo homes.

Ms. Alimunisha's husband earns about $40 per month—less than the official poverty line for a household of seven—by selling "dholaks," folk drums made of mango wood and goat skin.

"I feel so bad being poor," Ms. Alimunisha says. "Are we going to have to live like this all our lives?"

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a Times Online report about slum population swelling in India:

The number of people living in slums in India has more than doubled in the past two decades and now exceeds the entire population of Britain, the Indian Government has announced.

India’s slum-dwelling population had risen from 27.9 million in 1981 to 61.8 million in 2001, when the last census was done, Kumari Selja, the Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, said.

The figure is the latest illustration of how India’s recent economic boom has left behind millions of the country’s poorest people, raising fears that social unrest could undermine further growth.

India’s economy has grown by an average of 8 per cent annually over the past four years, and yet a quarter of its population of 1.1 billion still lives on less than $1 (50p) a day.

The expansion of India’s slums is partly due to the rise in India’s total population, which increased from 683 million in 1981 to 1.03 billion in 2001.

That has been exacerbated by mass migration from the countryside as millions of farmers have forsaken the diminishing returns of small-scale agriculture to seek the relatively high wages of manual labourers in India’s cities.

But the ballooning slum population is also evidence of the Government’s failure to build enough housing and other basic infrastructure for its urban poor, many of whom live without electricity, gas or running water.

India’s largest slum population is in Bombay, the country’s financial and film capital, where an estimated 6.5 million people – at least half the city’s residents – live in tiny makeshift shacks surrounded by open sewers. Bombay is also home to Dharavi, Asia’s biggest single slum, which is estimated to house more than a million people.

Delhi, the national capital, has the country’s second-largest slum population, totalling about 1.8 million people, followed by Calcutta with about 1.5 million.

Mrs Selja says that it will cost India four trillion rupees (£49 billion) to build the estimated 24 million housing units needed to accommodate India’s slum-dwellers. She has called for the Government and the private sector to address the problem jointly and has launched several schemes to provide basic public services to slum-dwellers. But civil rights activists accuse the Government of willfully neglecting India’s slums, while favouring commercial property developers who often bribe local officials and fund politicians’ election campaigns.

“The rise in slums is due to the lack of affordable housing provided by the Government,” said Maju Varghese, of YUVA Urban, a nongovernmental organisation that has been working with the urban poor for more than 20 years. “The Government has withdrawn from the whole area of housing and land prices have gone to such heights that people can’t afford proper housing,” he said.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1805596.ece

Riaz Haq said...

There are more poor people in 8 Indian states than all of Africa, according to a recent report. It is based on a new measure, called Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI), that was developed and applied by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative with UNDP support.

Acute poverty prevails in eight Indian states, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, together accounting for more poor people than in the 26 poorest African nations combined, a new 'multidimensional' measure of global poverty has said.

The new measure, called the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), was developed and applied by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative with UNDP support.

It will be featured in the forthcoming 20th anniversary edition of the UNDP Human Development Report.

An analysis by MPI creators reveals that there are more 'MPI poor' people in eight Indian states (421 million in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal) than in the 26 poorest African countries combined (410 million).

The new poverty measure that gives a multidimensional picture of people living in poverty, and is expected to help target development resources more effectively, its creators said.

Riaz Haq said...

Talking about human rights and equality, here's a report from India that all modern professions in India are dominated by Hindu Brahmins. Below is an excerpt from an interview of Dr P Radhakrishnan of the Madras Institute of Development Studies as published by rediff news:

Q: Why do you say that in a hierarchical society, the gene theory won't work?

A: It can only happen randomly. In a hierarchical society, the cultural capital is concentrated at the top. Brahmins are at the summit of the social hierarchy. So, they had all the advantages of society traditionally, though they may not be having the same advantages now.

Cultural capital gets transmitted from generation to generation and over generations, this transmission makes its recipients well-entrenched.

As early as the 1880s, the British administration had reported that a poor Brahmin cannot be compared to a poor untouchable for the simple reason that the poverty of a Brahmin is only economic, but the poverty of an untouchable is both economic and cultural.

Brahmins have cultural capital. That is also the reason that where talent has to be used persistently and assiduously, Brahmins have been shining. It is not that others are dullards. Universally, intelligence is distributed across the entire society. But opportunities are not.


http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2009/oct/12/slide-show-1-brahmins-dominate-all-modern-professions.htm

Riaz Haq said...

FAO released its report on hunger today. According to the report highlights as published in The Guardian, there are 847.5 million undernourished people in the world. India tops the list with 237.7 million, followed by China with 130.4 million, Pakistan 43.4 million, Democratic Republic of Congo 41.9 million, Bangladesh 41.7 million, Ethiopia 31.6 million and Indonesia 29.9 million.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/datablog/2010/sep/14/hunger-world-fao-undernourished

Riaz Haq said...

Here are key points of WHO report on maternal mortality report (MMR) with India accounting for most of the mothers' deaths:

Puncturing tall government claims, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report claimed on Wednesday India accounted for most maternal deaths in the world, with at least 63,000 such deaths taking place in 2008 alone.

In fact, India fared worse than even Nigeria (50,000 maternal deaths in 2008), Congo (19,000), Afghanistan (18,000), Ethiopia (14,000), Pakistan (14,000), Tanzania (14,000), Bangladesh (12,000), Indonesia (10,000), Sudan (9,700) and Kenya (7,900).
An estimated 65% of maternal deaths globally occurred in these 11 countries in 2008, with India contributing the most.

Though India’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) came down from 570 deaths per 1,00,000 live births to 230 in 2008, the change in percentage was negative-59.

Health ministry officials, however, put on a brave face, saying the figures were stale and fresh data would surely present a better picture.

The WHO report, ‘Trends in maternal mortality’, contradicts a nationwide survey commissioned by Unicef in 2009 which recently claimed that important parameters of maternal health, such as institutional delivery, safe delivery by skilled birth attendants and three or more ante-natal check-ups by mothers, had increased impressively since 2005-06.

It says the number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth decreased by 34%, from an estimated 5,46,000 in 1990 to 3,58,000, in 2008 worldwide. But the annual rate of decline was less than half the target to achieve the millennium development goal of reducing MMR by 75% between 1990 and 2015. Developing countries continued to account for 99% (3,55,000) of such deaths, while sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia accounted for 87% (3,13,000).

It is estimated that overall, there were 42, 000 deaths due to HIV/AIDS among pregnant women.


http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_shame-story-india-is-the-biggest-mother-killer-of-the-world_1438582

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a quick comparison of different sectors of the economy in India and Pakistan in terms of employment and GDP contribution:

Country....Agri(emp/GDP)..Textiles..Other Mfg..Service(incl IT)

India........60%/16% ...........10%/4%.....7%/25%...........23%/55%

Pakistan......42%/20%...........12%/8%......8%/18%...........38%/54%



Assuming India's PPP GDP of $3.75 trillion (population 1.2 billion) and Pakistan's $450 billion (population 175 million), here is what I calculated in terms of per capita GDP in different sectors of the economy:

India vs. Pakistan:

Agriculture: ($833 vs. $1,225)

Textiles: ($1,242 vs. $1,714)

Non-Textile Mfg ($11,155 vs $5,785)

Services ($7,246 vs $3,654)

It shows that Indians in manufacturing and services sectors add more value and produce higher value goods and services than their Pakistani counterparts.

The income range in India is much wider from $883 to $11, 155 accounting for the much bigger rich-poor gap relative to Pakistan's range from $1225 to $5,785.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a recent NY Times report on persistently high levels of poverty in India:

In Mumbai on Nov. 7, President Barack Obama told a group of students that India was no longer a “rising power,” but rather an “already risen” power. He celebrated an economy that “has risen at a breathtaking rate.”

Three days earlier, in New York, the United Nations released the 20th edition of its Human Development Report, a publication that has in many ways become the authoritative measure of poverty and deprivation.

India ranked 119th of 169 countries. The nation’s eight poorest states contain as many poor as the 26 poorest African countries combined. In terms of life expectancy and even gender inequality, India rates below its neighbors of Bangladesh and Pakistan.
-------------

After nearly two decades of economic changes that were to have ushered in an era of prosperity, it is clear that in some ways the nation has been naïve: high growth rates alone cannot cure poverty.

The problem, as Anirudh Krishna, a political scientist at Duke University in North Carolina, and the author of a remarkable new study on poverty, put it to me, is that “poverty in India has become very resilient. The numbers hardly budge.”

Indeed, while official estimates suggest that poverty has declined since the advent of reforms, other recent studies suggest that it is in fact far more widespread than had been thought.

At least three government committees have been formed to count the poor in India. The variance in their findings — ranging from 37.2 percent to 77 percent — suggests not only the prevalence of poverty, but also that its very nature is misunderstood. For all the attention directed at the issue, poverty remains something of a mystery.

Mr. Krishna’s study, published in September as “One Illness Away: Why People Become Poor and How They Escape Poverty,” is in large part an effort to peel away the layers of this mystery. The outcome of a decade of work in five countries, and the result of conversations and surveys with more than 35,000 families, one of its chief goals — and accomplishments — is to flesh out our understanding of economic deprivation.

There are several insights in this book, but one of Mr. Krishna’s more important is that, as he writes, “poverty is not an undifferentiated mass living beneath some theoretical or statistical line.” It is, rather, a constantly churning pool of deprivation, with those who escape being replenished by a new population that has fallen from relative prosperity.

In a 25-year study he conducted in Andhra Pradesh State, for example, Mr. Krishna found that while 14 percent of households escaped poverty, another 12 percent became poor. Overall, there was a 2 percent reduction in the poverty rate, but 26 percent of households had seen their status change.

This understanding of poverty as nonstatic, always in flux, has policy implications. It suggests that welfare programs need to be designed not just to raise people out of poverty, but also to prevent those who are not poor — and thus perhaps off the radar of such programs — from descending into poverty.

In particular, Mr. Krishna’s research highlights the major role played by illness in pushing people over the edge. He writes about “chains of negative events” that lead, through costly hospital bills, unemployment and debt, into economic hardship.

“I am fully convinced that we can’t reduce poverty in India without first doing something about health care,” he said.

Mr. Krishna’s ideas for alleviating poverty are generally convincing. But what is most persuasive about this book is less the policy prescriptions than the nuanced and rich portrait of poverty that informs those prescriptions.
-----------

Mohan said...

I unterstand that now the darker sides of the two nations can be compared. So, what you have said is not the answer to my question ! I asked "how long" because India has achieved a growth rate comparable to that of China, the kind of growth rate with which China reduced its poverty to < 10 pc, and just a few decades back both Chinese and Indians were equally poor.

When you compare malnuutrition in India and Africa, the figures are same. But does it mean Subsaharan Africa is economically better than India ? No. In Africa the most significant problem is hunger. with hunger and wide spread diseases like AIDS, they dont live enough to be counted as malnourished. In the next stage of their development, they will be upgraded as malnourished people. Then malnutrition is not only related to money but its has a social component too. Pakistan is small compared to India, so the numbers associated are small, qualitatively both are the more or less similar. Yes people living < $ 1.25 is less in Pakistan but % of people living < $2 is almost the same, I dont think a few cents make a big difference. Also, when you compare fast growing countries use the most recent statistics.

A comparison should cover all aspects, but you often compare the negative sides. Yes the negatives sides are similar. But on her positive sides India is decades ahead of Pakistan. Better instutions in India, in every field are much better than the best in Pakistan. For example in the educational field, they produce better quality scientists, engineers and managers who drive the country forward. Before the industrial revolution, most of the people in most of the countries were extremely poor. Industrilation is perhaps the only way out of poverty. India produce caipable people to lead such a social transformation. Where do pakistan stand ?

When you compare, why dont you compare the quality and quantity of publications in scientific Journals form both countries. Why dont you compare IITs, IISERs, NITs and IIMs to their counterpart in Pakistan. Why dont you comapre the achievements of ISRO and your space research organisations ? List is too long. These comparisons will be even more useful to the readers, if people dont read your blogs to see a malnourished Indian in his death bed.

Riaz Haq said...

Mohan: " I asked "how long" because India has achieved a growth rate comparable to that of China, the kind of growth rate with which China reduced its poverty to < 10 pc, and just a few decades back both Chinese and Indians were equally poor."

China and India are very different countries. Unlike India, the growth in China has actualy reduced poverty dramatically because of its progressive policies and better execution.

Mohan: "Yes people living < $ 1.25 is less in Pakistan but % of people living < $2 is almost the same"

No, you are wrong. There are 60% of Pakisanis living under $2 a day, versus 75% of Indians, manily because the rural economy in Pakistan is much better than in India.

First, India has had lower productivity and higher poverty in its rural areas than Pakistan, as can be seen in terms of hundreds of thousands of farmers' suicides in the last decade. Over 17000 Indian farmers killed themselves in 2009 alone, according to Indian govt data. Over 75% of Indians live on less than $2 a day versus 60% of Pakistanis.

A recent satirical Indian film "Peepli Live" has amply shown how the Indian politicians and bureaucracy have bugled the situation of farmers.

Second, 60% of India's workforce produces 16% of Inda's GDP in agriculture. Compare that with 42% of Pakistani workforce in agriculture contributing 19.4% of GDP. Assuming India's PPP GDP of $3.75 trillion (population 1.2 billion, nominal gdp $1.3 trillion) and Pakistan's $450 billion (population 175 million, nominal gdp $167 billion)), here is what I calculated in terms of per capita GDP in different sectors of the economy:

India vs. Pakistan: Per Capita GDP $3,125 PPP ($1,083 nom) vs. $2,570 ($955 nom)

Agriculture: $833 PPP ($288 nom) vs. $1,225 PPP ($454 nom)

Textiles: $1,242 ($433) vs. $1,714 ($636)

Non-Textile Mfg: $11,155 ($3,870) vs $5,785 ($2,142)

Services $7,246 ($2,590) vs $3,654 ($1356)

Data shows that the majority of Indians who work in agriculture and textiles are on average 50% poorer than their Pakistani counterparts, as also reflected in the under-$2 a day per capita income figures for 60% of Pakistanis and 76% of Indians.

Third, here are some interesting highlights from a paper "Land-use Changes and Agricultural Growth in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, 1901-2004" by Takashi Kurosaki:

1. In India and Pakistan, the area under forests and under cultivation increased substantially throughout the post-independence period. The annual growth rates were higher in Pakistan than in India: the forest area increased at an annual growth rate of 1.91% and 0.75% in Pakistan, well above the figures of British India before independence. In India, the growth rates were lower than in Pakistan but comparable to rates recorde before independence.

2. During post-independence period, output (Q) in Pakistan grew at 3.5 percent per annum while Output/Area (Q/A) increased at 2.3 percent. Therefore, the major contribution to agri growth after independence came from increase in land productivity.

3. The level of growth was highest in Pakistan, followed by India, with Bangladesh at the bottom.

4. In all three countries, the growth rate of land productivity was not high enough to cancel the negative growth of land availability per capita. But the output per capita growth in Pakistan continues to be higher than in India and Bangladesh.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/01/pakistans-rural-economy-showing.html

http://www.riazhaq.com/2010/01/india-and-pakistan-contrasted-in-2010.html

Riaz Haq said...

Chandran Nair argues in his book "Consumptionomics" that the Asians need to rethink the whole idea of western-style consumer-driven capitalism to ensure a better, more sustainable future for their massive population.

Here are some excepts from Financial Times review of the book "Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet":

, -- Life might not be as much fun in his world as it is for the lucky ones who become wealthy under liberal capitalism. “Golf and car racing might be out but badminton and social dancing are more popular,” he suggests in his vision of leisure time in a Nairian society. But the benefits of development would be spread more widely, damage to the earth’s resources would be controlled and people would probably spend less time working.

Nair’s starting point is that the world simply cannot survive the consequences of the growth of highly populous Asian economies to levels of development reached by industrialised countries if that is to be achieved on the same resource-guzzling terms as western development.
-------------
Throughout the book, Nair evinces an angry disdain for western-style capitalism, which he regards as setting the world on a path to destruction by its devotion to the ideology of markets and its voracious appetite for finite resources. He’s none too complimentary either about its media cheerleaders, including this newspaper.

“The biggest lie of all is that consumption-driven capitalism can deliver wealth to all,” he writes. “In Asia it can only deliver short-term wealth to a minority; in the long term, it can only deliver misery to all. This is the intellectual dishonesty at the heart of the model the west has peddled to Asia.”

Nair points to the familiar issue of energy use, saying that if Asia’s population was to use as much energy per person as Europeans do today (relatively modest compared to Americans), then it would use eight to nine times as much energy as the US currently consumes. Perhaps more startling is an estimate he uses for poultry consumption. Americans will eat 9bn birds this year, apparently. If by 2050 Asians ate the same amount per person, they would swallow more than 120bn. That’s a lot of battery chickens.

Nor is Nair impressed by arguments that technology will ultimately solve issues such as energy shortages and climate change, allowing economic growth and consumption to go on expanding. He dismisses the notion that Asia should concentrate on growth and then, when it is rich, clean up afterwards. What he demands is a radical change in the prevailing global economic model and its governance.
-----------
But the shape of a Nairian Asia does emerge. It would be made up of strong nation-state governments willing to take unilateral action on issues such as controlling natural resource exploitation and domestic agriculture and industry. Governments would get bigger and spend more with an emphasis on sustainable infrastructure such as public transport. Carbon, natural resources and financial transactions would be taxed – possibly allowing for a reduction or elimination of payroll taxes. Agriculture would be deindustrialised, with a drive to return to labour-intensive farming to ensure sufficient output and stop mass migration to cities.

What would life be like for the individual? They would be expected to forgo owning a car, would pay high prices for meat and restaurant portions would be restricted. But income differentials would be minimised and access to the benefits of technology widely shared.

He doesn’t say it but Nair is describing a kind of Asian Norway, with the benefits of natural resources controlled and socialised to a high degree, rural communities subsidised to keep people on the land, fisheries protected, a high commitment to energy efficiency and high taxation to support high levels of social welfare.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts from a recent Wall Street Journal story titled "In India, Doubts Gather Over Rising Giant's Course":

These days, India often is held up as an example of how a democracy in Asia can mirror the spectacular growth of authoritarian China. In the year ending March 31, India's economy is expected to expand by about 8.5%.

Other important gauges of national well-being paint a more troubling picture. "What has globalization and industrialization done for India?" asks Mr. Venkatesan, Microsoft's former India chairman. "About 400 million people have seen benefits, and 800 million haven't."
-----
Calorie consumption by the bottom 50% of the population has been declining since 1987, according to the 2009-10 economic survey conducted by India's Ministry of Finance, even as those at the top of society struggle with rising obesity. Mainly because of malnutrition, around 46% of children younger than 3 years old are too small for their age, according to UNICEF.

Infrastructure in cities and the countryside remains woefully inadequate: In recent years, China has added, on average, more than 10 times as much power as India to its electricity grid each year.

Data from McKinsey & Co. show that the number of households in the highest-earning income bracket, making more than $34,000 a year, has risen to 2.5 million, from 1 million in 2005. But the ranks of those at the bottom, making less than $3,000 a year, also have grown, to 111 million, from 101 million in 2005.
-------
India's modernization was expected to prompt a mass movement of workers from farms to factory floors—a critical component in the transformation of China, South Korea and other Asian nations. But manufacturing as a share of India's economy stood at 16% in 2009, the same as in 1991, according to the World Bank.

Services have increased dramatically as a proportion of gross domestic product, rising to 55% in 2009, from 45% in 1991, according to the World Bank, becoming the chief engine of India's economic strength. But many of the fastest-growing areas, such as finance and technology, employ relatively few and rely heavily on skilled employees. The entire software and technology-services sector, including call centers and outsourcing, directly employs just 2.5 million workers, a tiny fraction of the overall work force.
--------
Agriculture's share of the economy, meanwhile, has declined to about 17% in 2009, from 30% in 1991. But the number of people working in agriculture hasn't dropped commensurately, according to Arvind Panagariya, a professor of Indian political economy at Columbia University in New York. "The dependence on agriculture remains incredibly high when you compare India's high-growth phase with others," he says. "The potential of the country is to grow at 11% to 12%, and it's growing only at 8% to 9%."

Frustration over the economic miracle's limited trickle-down is fueling political movements around the country. Most base their appeal, in part, on the idea that the poor are being ill-served in the new India.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703313304576131792120382006.html?KEYWORDS=india

Riaz Haq said...

Talking about democracy, here are some excerpts from a Vanity Fair article by Nobel Laureate Economist Joe Stiglitz about growing concentration of wealth and power in America. It's titled "Of the 1%, For the 1%, By the 1%":

Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.

It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequal ities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

Riaz Haq said...

Is India too wealthy for British aid? asks the BBC:

Bihar children being fed under a government scheme More than a million children in Bihar suffer from severe malnutrition
Continue reading the main story
Related Stories

* How UK overseas aid will be spent
* 'More poor' in India than Africa
* Ignoring India's 'republic of hunger'

Britain's decision to give £280m ($457m) in annual aid to India for the next four years has prompted questions in the UK about whether India needs the aid these days. The BBC's Geeta Pandey travels to the northern state of Bihar to see where a sizeable chunk of the British money will be spent.

About two dozen children squat in a narrow lane separating mud and brick homes in Madhaopur village.

It's a hot sunny afternoon and the children sit facing each other, hugging the wall where a thin sliver of shade keeps them out of direct sunshine.

A woman puts steel plates in front of each child, another ladles out khichdi - a rice and lentil dish - onto each plate.

Within minutes, the chattering ceases and the children begin to eat hungrily, scooping out khichdi with their hands and putting it in their mouths.

Ideally, the children should be served inside the Anganwadi (government sponsored child development) centre, but the pokey, window-less room that passes for the centre is too small to accommodate them all.
'Malnourished'

The building provides pre-school education to children between three and six years and gives them one cooked meal a day to supplement their nutritional needs.

"Nearly 50% children here are malnourished," says Geeta Verma, who is part of the technical assistance team of DfiD (Department for International Development).
A baby being vaccinated in Bihar DfiD supports vaccination programmes in the villages of Bihar

"They are given a daily meal by the Anganwadi workers. It's a naturally fortified meal - for proteins we use lentils, for micronutrients, we use leafy vegetables," she explains.

Research has shown that the diet in Bihar leaves children with a 300-calorie deficit and this meal aims to bridge that gap.

"This meal provides each child with 300 calories and 10 grams of protein," Ms Verma says.

The team has helped prepare the menu and has been coaching the women in the important role nutrition plays in the physical and mental growth of their children.

In Madhaopur, DfiD is also supervising and assisting with immunisation of babies and has helped with a project to teach illiterate women.
'Too wealthy?'

Since being opened up in 1991, the Indian economy has grown rapidly. And at a time when most economies around the world are in recession, India's continues to grow at an enviable 9%. This has helped lift millions out of poverty.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote
Sangeeta Kumari

Bluntly speaking we are struggling for existence, we are trying to perform our best in the midst of a crisis. We have very poor infrastructure.”

End Quote Sangeeta Kumari Bihar government official

This has led to some in the UK wondering if India is too wealthy to qualify for receiving aid. They say the £280m could be put to better use in Britain where the economy is ailing and many services are being cut back.

Critics also point out that India has 69 dollar billionaires; it has its own space programme; plans to send a man to the Moon; spends billions of dollars annually on defence; and even has its own overseas aid programme.

But India has its areas of darkness too - according to World Bank estimates, 456 million live on less than $1.25 a day; tens of millions of children suffer from acute malnutrition; millions of Indians are illiterate; hundreds of thousands continue to die of totally preventable causes; and eight million children remain out of school.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on how India defines poverty:

India's cabinet has approved a proposal for a survey to identify people living below the poverty line, which also redefines what constitutes poverty.

It will classify the rural poor into "destitutes, manual scavengers and primitive tribal groups".

Urban poor will be defined as those in vulnerable shelters, low-paid jobs and homes headed by women or children.

The survey, to be conducted alongside a caste census later this year, will help identify those who need state aid.

There are various estimates on the exact number of poor in India.

Officially, 37% of India's 1.21bn people live below the poverty line. But one estimate suggests this figure could be as high as 77%.

The last poverty survey was conducted in 2002, but this is the first time that details about caste and religion will be included. The last caste census in India was in 1931.

Under the new system, in rural areas, families owning fixed-line telephones, refrigerators and farmers who have a credit limit of 50,000 rupees ($1,112; £688) will not be counted among India's poorest.

Government staff or those earning 10,000 rupees ($222; £137) a month will also be excluded. Home-owners with three or more rooms will also not be classified as poor.

Officials say the census to identify the people living below the poverty line is "a mammoth task", but it will help them to support those in the greatest need.

On Wednesday, a World Bank report said attempts by the Indian government to combat poverty were not working.

It said aid programmes were beset by corruption, bad administration and under-payments.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13450959

Riaz Haq said...

Overall, the latest World Bank data shows that India's poverty rate of 27.5%, based on India's current poverty line of $1.03 per person per day, is more than 10 percentage points higher than Pakistan's 17.2%. Assam (urban), Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are the only three Indian states with lower poverty rates than Pakistan's.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an opinion piece about India's talk of setting up a sovereign wealth fund (SWF):

Unlike China and other East Asian countries, which have established such funds on sustained current account surpluses, India has been running persistent current account deficits. Its current account deficit touched $ 29.8 billion in fiscal 2009 as against $ 15.7 billion in fiscal 2007. Unlike West Asia, India does not have any dominant exportable commodity (such as oil or gas) so as to generate significant surpluses. It continues to be a huge net importer of oil and gas. The country’s current account deficit is widening despite steady growth in software services exports and a rise in workers’ remittances from overseas Indians.

Its persistent current account deficits have been financed by large capital inflows in the form of portfolio investments and other volatile capital flows that are subject to capital flight. Given the overriding presence of volatile capital flows in India’s forex reserves, coupled with vulnerability to external shocks, it would be erroneous to consider its foreign exchange reserves ($ 280 billion) as a position of strength.

India’s external debt has been rising steadily for the past few years on account of higher borrowings by the Indian companies and short-term credit. Besides, India also runs a perennial fiscal deficit which means that raising substantial money for sovereign fund from budgetary allocation would be extremely difficult.

Santiago Principles

AS far as the proposed fund’s objectives to invest directly in strategic cross-border assets are concerned, the Indian policy-makers need to recognise that the overwhelming majority of sovereign funds are passive investors. In the rare cases where SWFs have made direct investments, they have not sought controlling interests or active roles in the management of invested companies, as private investors do. Even the large-scale direct investments made by SWFs in US and European banks during 2007-08 were minor in terms of bank ownership and did not come with any special rights or board representation.

Any direct investment in strategic assets by a sovereign fund will invite severe criticism for its alleged political and non-commercial objectives. Not long ago, the Western world had characterised SWFs as "villains" and introduced new policy measures, popularly known as the Santiago Principles, to regulate the investments of SWFs globally. Thus, acquisition of strategic cross-border assets (including natural resources) will not be a cakewalk. Also $ 10 billion is not enough to acquire strategic assets abroad-unless they become very cheap.

Furthermore, there is no guarantee that investments made by the Indian fund will be profitable. As witnessed during the global financial crisis, SWFs from West Asia, China, Singapore and Norway suffered huge losses for their investments in Western banks and private equity funds.

Paradoxical as it may sound, extreme poverty and hunger still pervades India. For New Delhi, the first priority should be to free the nation from hunger, malnutrition and illiteracy rather than financing the acquisition of strategic assets or rivals abroad.

In this regard, a portion of the country’s forex reserves could be prudently used in the improvement of physical infrastructure, education, health and financial services, particularly in rural India.


http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article2285.html

Riaz Haq said...

Indian activists have dared the head of the country's planning body to live on half a dollar a day to test his claim that it is an adequate sum to survive, according to the BBC:

Last week the Planning Commission said the amount is "adequate" for a villager to spend on food, education and health.

But prominent campaigners Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander asked the panel chief, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and members to either withdraw the figure or resign.

Officially, 37% of India's 1.21bn people live below the poverty line.

But there are various estimates of the exact number of poor in India and one suggests the true figure could be as high as 77%.

But the Planning Commission recently told India's Supreme Court that an individual income of 25 rupees (52 cents) a day would help provide for adequate "private expenditure on food, education and health" in the villages. In the cities, it said, individual earnings of 32 rupees a day (65 cents) were adequate.

Critics say this amount is extremely low and aimed at "artificially" reducing the number of poor. They argue that this will deprive millions of state benefits they would otherwise be entitled to.
Estimate ridiculed

"The right to food campaign challenges you and all the members of the Planning Commission to live on 25 rupees or 32 rupees a day till such time that you are able to explain to the public in simple words the basis of the statement that this amount is 'normatively adequate'," an open letter to the commission signed by Ms Roy, Mr Mander and various other activists said.

"If it cannot be explained then the affidavit [filed by the commission stating the figures] should be withdrawn or else you should resign."

The Planning Commission submitted the figures after the Supreme Court asked the government to update its poverty line figures to reflect rising prices.

The low figures, at a time when India has been struggling to contain inflation which is at a 13-month high of 9.78%, have been ridiculed not just by activists but also by many citizens.

Many experts have said the income limit to define the poor was too low.

And a World Bank report in May said attempts by the Indian government to combat poverty were not working.

It said aid programmes were beset by corruption, bad administration and under-payments.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-15121304

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece from WSJ on poverty line in India:

In an affidavit filed to the Supreme Court, India’s Planning Commission shared new estimates on India’s poverty line, setting it at 965 rupees per month for people living in cities and at 781 rupees for people living in rural areas. This averages to about 32 rupees and 26 rupees per day, respectively, to spend on food, education and health.

While this was higher than the Planning Commission’s earlier estimates –which set the benchmark at 19 rupees a day for urban dwellers – it sparked a debate on how little people in India are expected to live on and on the limits of the country’s welfare system.

The poverty line matters because it determines how many people are eligible to government welfare schemes. Currently, this is capped at 37.2% of the population, a figure that is unlikely to change before the end of the year.

In an editorial titled “How little can a person live on?” in The Hindu newspaper on Friday, Utsa Patnaik said that the updated estimates “exposed how unrealistic ‘poverty lines’ are.” The author drew attention to costs people were meant to cover with that amount and noted that “even a child knows that working health cannot be maintained, nor necessities obtained, by spending so little.”

She questioned the methodology used to determine the figures: “The Planning Commission’s laughable estimates of the poverty line follow from a mistake in method that it made 30 years ago and has clung to ever since.” She questioned economists’ excessive reliance on price indices and the insufficient weight given to nutritional requirements.

“The method of indexation that is actually used has not kept constant the nutritional standard against which poverty is measured, but has lowered it continuously,” she said.

In an open letter, more than 25 experts including social economist Jayati Ghosh, Sukhdeo Thorat, the chairman of the University Grants Commission, and West Bengal’s former finance minister Ashok Mitra, slammed the government’s latest benchmark for measuring poverty.
----
Jug Suraiya, in an editorial titled “Rich man, poor man” in the The Times of India, noted that although India’s poverty line is very low, the country is also “poised to overtake Japan as the world’s third largest economy.” This, the author writes, highlights “an increasingly obvious reality: India is fast emerging as the richest poor country in the world.”
--------
Mr. Suraiya said that “the paradox is all the more cruel in that India’s poor…will grow even poorer and more numerous as the country’s prosperity increases.” He pointed at the root cause for this: “a criminally inefficient and inequitable system – or rather, non-system – of wealth distribution.”

In an editorial titled, “Which world do economists live in?” Faizur Rehman in The Asian Age also questioned the methodology used to the determine the poverty line and pointed at possible political motives underlying it: “The truth is that through the Planning Commission’s affidavit to the Supreme Court, the government has sought to grossly understate endemic poverty in India — perhaps to escape censure by the aam (common) voters in the next general election.”

“One wonders if members of the Planning Commission are aware of the cost of living in urban India,” he said. If the “Planning Commission feigns ignorance of this reality, it must be living in a time warp.”


http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/10/01/what-they-said-india%E2%80%99s-poverty-line/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Times of India on philanthropist Dominique Lapierre citicism of India's rich:

KOLKATA: Celebrated author Dominique Lapierre is upset and frustrated by affluent Indians' "reluctance to help the underprivileged in this country". He has been funding projects for the needy in West Bengal for nearly three decades, emphasizing on deprived and inaccessible areas in the Sunderbans.

The City of Joy Aid, Lapierre's non-profit organization, has funded and operated a network of health clinics, hospitals, rehab centres, boat hospital and schools for the poor since 1981. He has contributed extensively through royalties generated from his international bestsellers, lecture fees and donations from readers.

In the city to celebrate his 80th birthday, he said it's quite sad that neither Indians nor their government have done enough for the poor and downtrodden. "India is shining but a part of it is still lying in darkness. I request every Indian to come forward and do something for their very own people so that they, too, enjoy a better life," he said.

The Padma Bhushan recipient and his wife visited Goramari Island in Bengal's South 24-Parganas district with 40 international donors and friends who contribute to his charities and other humanitarian work in India. Lapierre was concerned by the plight of poor children who, he said, are yet to get a proper livelihood despite money flowing in for nearly three decades. "I am surprised that India's rich and famous have been ignoring the reality of this country," he said.

Lapierre has been a major benefactor of Southern Health Improvement Samity (SHIS) for over 30 years. "It is an absolute delight to have Dominique Lapierre among us. We are extremely grateful to him and his eminent compatriots from Western Europe who come and visit us every year, without fail," said SHIS president Sabitri Pal.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata-/Indias-rich-not-doing-enough-for-the-poor-Lapierre/articleshow/11025282.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a piece by Lan Pritchett of Harvard University on India's poor performance on PISA:

Compared to the economic superstars India is almost unfathomably far behind. The TN/HP average 15 year old is over 200 points behind. If a typical grade gain is 40 points a year Indian eighth graders are at the level of Korea third graders in their mathematics mastery. In fact the average TN/HP child is 40 to 50 points behind the worst students in the economic superstars. Equally worrisome is that the best performers in TN/HP - the top 5 percent who India will need in science and technology to complete globally - were almost 100 points behind the average child in Singapore and 83 points behind the average Korean - and a staggering 250 points behind the best in the best.

As the current superpowers are behind the East Asian economic superstars in learning performance the distance to India is not quite as far, but still the average TN/HP child is right at the level of the worst OECD or American students (only 1.5 or 7.5 points ahead). Indians often deride America's schools but the average child placed in an American school would be among the weakest students. Indians might have believed, with President Obama, that American schools were under threat from India but the best TN/HP students are 24 points behind the average American 15 year old.

Even among other "developing" nations that make up the BRICs India lags - from Russia by almost as much as the USA and only for Brazil, which like the rest of Latin America is infamous for lagging education performance does India even come close - and then not even that close.

To put these results in perspective, in the USA there has been huge and continuous concern that has caused seismic shifts in the discourse about education driven, in part, by the fact that the USA is lagging the economic superstars like Korea. But the average US 15 year old is 59 points behind Koreans. TN/HP students are 41.5 points behind Brazil, and twice as far behind Russia (123.5 points) as the US is Korea, and almost four times further behind Singapore (217.5 vs 59) that the US is behind Korea. Yet so far this disastrous performance has yet to occasion a ripple in the education establishment.
------------
These PISA 2009+ results are the end of the beginning. The debate is over. No one can still deny there is a deep crisis in the ability of the existing education system to produce child learning. India's education system is undermining India's legitimate aspirations to be at the global forefront as a prosperous economy, as a global great power, as an emulated polity, and as a fair and just society. As the beginning ends, the question now is: what is to be done?


http://ajayshahblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/first-pisa-results-for-india-end-of.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Russian analyst Anatol Karlin on India's prospects and its comparison with China:

It is not a secret to longtime readers of this blog that I rate India’s prospects far more pessimistically than I do China’s. My main reason is I do not share the delusion that democracy is a panacea and that whatever advantage in this sphere India has is more than outweighed by China’s lead in any number of other areas ranging from infrastructure and fiscal sustainability to child malnutrition and corruption. However, one of the biggest and certainly most critical gaps is in educational attainment, which is the most important component of human capital – the key factor underlying all productivity increases and longterm economic growth. China’s literacy rate is 96%, whereas Indian literacy is still far from universal at just 74%.
-----------
The big problem, until recently, was that there was no internationalized student testing data for either China or India. (There was data for cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, but it was not very useful because they are hardly representative of China). An alternative approach was to compare national IQ’s, in which China usually scored 100-105 and India scored in the low 80′s. But this method has methodological flaws because the IQ tests aren’t consistent across countries. (This, incidentally, also makes this approach a punching bag for PC enforcers who can’t bear to entertain the possibility of differing IQ’s across national and ethnic groups).
--------------
Many Indians like to see themselves as equal competitors to China, and are encouraged in their endeavour by gushing Western editorials and Tom Friedman drones who praise their few islands of programming prowess – in reality, much of which is actually pretty low-level stuff – and widespread knowledge of the English language (which makes India a good destination for call centers but not much else), while ignoring the various aspects of Indian life – the caste system, malnutrition, stupendously bad schools – that are holding them back. The low quality of Indians human capital reveals the “demographic dividend” that India is supposed to enjoy in the coming decades as the wild fantasies of what Sailer rightly calls ”Davos Man craziness at its craziest.” A large cohort of young people is worse than useless when most of them are functionally illiterate and innumerate; instead of fostering well-compensated jobs that drive productivity forwards, they will form reservoirs of poverty and potential instability.

Instead of buying into their own rhetoric of a “India shining”, Indians would be better served by focusing on the nitty gritty of bringing childhood malnutrition DOWN to Sub-Saharan African levels, achieving the life expectancy of late Maoist China, and moving up at least to the level of a Mexico or Moldova in numeracy and science skills. Because as long as India’s human capital remains at the bottom of the global league tables so will the prosperity of its citizens....


http://www.sublimeoblivion.com/2012/02/04/china-superior-to-india/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post blog on India's claim of poverty reduction:

India’s Planning Commission says the number of poor people has dropped by 51 million — more than the entire population of Spain or Argentina — in the past five years. This, officials say, is the sharpest drop in poverty rate in India — from 406 million to 356 million, out of 1.2 billion Indians — since the country introduced an ambitious economic reforms program in 1991 that brought unprecedented economic growth and wealth. Poverty in rural India declined at an even faster pace, the report said.

But many Indians are not ready to believe this rare good news. Some accuse the government of statistical jugglery — first, lowering the definition of the poverty line, so as to include fewer people, and then claiming that the number of Indians living in poverty has declined.

According to the commission, Indians are defined as poor if they spend the equivalent of 56 cents or less daily in urban areas and 44 cents or less in villages. This is lower than the earlier level of 65 to 75 cents a day or less in cities, and 50 to 55 cents daily or less in villages, which was set by the commission.

“Is this the poverty line or the starvation line?” S. S. Ahluwalia, a lawmaker with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, asked in parliament on Tuesday, accusing the government of playing with lives of the poor.

“India’s poverty line is the most austerely defined line in the whole world,” said M. S. Swaminathan, an agricultural economist. “It is lower than other emerging economies.”

The government’s data triggered fear among many activists that fewer people will benefit from the government’s proposed free food program for the poor.

But Planning Commission chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, an ardent advocate of free market policies, dismissed such fears on Tuesday.

“The focus of this exercise is to determine whether inclusive growth is working,”said Ahluwalia. “It is not to determine who will get food entitlements.”

One official at the commission said welfare programs like the rural public works guarantee scheme launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has reduced destitute poverty in the past five years,

But in India’s poorer, populous northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the poverty decline has only been marginal, and the absolute number of poor has risen.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/is-india-misrepresenting-its-poverty-numbers/2012/03/20/gIQA1dtXPS_blog.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a World Bank report released recently:

while the extreme poor in SSA represented only 11 percent of the world’s total in 1981, they now account for more than a third of the world’s extreme poor (figure 3). India contributes another third (up from 22 percent in 1981) and China comes next contributing 13 percent (down from 43 percent in 1981).

http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/State_of_the_poor_paper_April17.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's The Economist on ending poverty:

IN HIS inaugural address in 1949 Harry Truman said that “more than half the people in the world are living in conditions approaching misery. For the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge and skill to relieve the suffering of those people.” It has taken much longer than Truman hoped, but the world has lately been making extraordinary progress in lifting people out of extreme poverty. Between 1990 and 2010, their number fell by half as a share of the total population in developing countries, from 43% to 21%—a reduction of almost 1 billion people.
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Starting this week and continuing over the next year or so, the UN’s usual Who’s Who of politicians and officials from governments and international agencies will meet to draw up a new list of targets to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were set in September 2000 and expire in 2015. Governments should adopt as their main new goal the aim of reducing by another billion the number of people in extreme poverty by 2030.

Nobody in the developed world comes remotely close to the poverty level that $1.25 a day represents. America’s poverty line is $63 a day for a family of four. In the richer parts of the emerging world $4 a day is the poverty barrier. But poverty’s scourge is fiercest below $1.25 (the average of the 15 poorest countries’ own poverty lines, measured in 2005 dollars and adjusted for differences in purchasing power): people below that level live lives that are poor, nasty, brutish and short. They lack not just education, health care, proper clothing and shelter—which most people in most of the world take for granted—but even enough food for physical and mental health. Raising people above that level of wretchedness is not a sufficient ambition for a prosperous planet, but it is a necessary one.

The world’s achievement in the field of poverty reduction is, by almost any measure, impressive. Although many of the original MDGs—such as cutting maternal mortality by three-quarters and child mortality by two-thirds—will not be met, the aim of halving global poverty between 1990 and 2015 was achieved five years early.

The MDGs may have helped marginally, by creating a yardstick for measuring progress, and by focusing minds on the evil of poverty. Most of the credit, however, must go to capitalism and free trade, for they enable economies to grow—and it was growth, principally, that has eased destitution.

Poverty rates started to collapse towards the end of the 20th century largely because developing-country growth accelerated, from an average annual rate of 4.3% in 1960-2000 to 6% in 2000-10. Around two-thirds of poverty reduction within a country comes from growth. Greater equality also helps, contributing the other third. A 1% increase in incomes in the most unequal countries produces a mere 0.6% reduction in poverty; in the most equal countries, it yields a 4.3% cut.

China (which has never shown any interest in MDGs) is responsible for three-quarters of the achievement. Its economy has been growing so fast that, even though inequality is rising fast, extreme poverty is disappearing. China pulled 680m people out of misery in 1981-2010, and reduced its extreme-poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to 10% now.

That is one reason why (as the briefing explains) it will be harder to take a billion more people out of extreme poverty in the next 20 years than it was to take almost a billion out in the past 20. Poorer governance in India and Africa, the next two targets, means that China’s experience is unlikely to be swiftly replicated there......


http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21578665-nearly-1-billion-people-have-been-taken-out-extreme-poverty-20-years-world-should-aim