Thursday, June 6, 2013

India's Share of World's Poorest Jumped From 22% to 33% in 30 Years!

A billion people were lifted from abject poverty between 1980 and 2010. China accounts for nearly three quarters of these, or 680 million people brought out of misery, by reducing its extreme-poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to 10% now, according to a report in The Economist.  The report adds that with "poorer governance in India and Africa, the next two targets, means that China’s experience is unlikely to be swiftly replicated there".


Source: Where Are the Poor and Where Are the Poorest?

As China's share of the world's extreme poor (living below $1.25 per day per person level) has dramatically declined, India's share has significantly increased.  India now contributes 33% (up from 22 % in 1981). While the extreme poor in Sub-Saharan Africa represented only 11 percent of the world’s total in 1981, they now account for 34% of the world’s extreme poor, and China comes next contributing 13 percent (down from 43 percent in 1981), according to the World Bank report titled State of the Poor.

Pakistan's Share of World's Poor Equals its Share of World Population


The share of poverty in  South Asia region excluding India has slightly increased from 7% in 1981 to 9% now, according to the report.

The Economist offers a description of what extreme poverty means in the poor countries and how it compares with poverty in the developed world as follows:  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.



How poor is India? An Oxford study found last year that India has more poor than the poor population of all of sub-Saharan Africa. 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 similar or lower poverty rates than Pakistan's.




Chinese success can at least partially be attributed to its communist party's heavy handed actions to suppress political chaos on the streets and sustain rapid economic growth since 1980s. Tienanmen Square in Beijing was the scene of the communist government crackdown by the units of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) against mass students protests in 1989, an action that was widely condemned by the western world and the United Nations. Since the death of Chairman Mao and passing of the leadership to late Deng Xiaoping in 1980s, the Chinese communist party has pursued liberalizing the nation's economy without political liberalization, in the same way other East Asians did earlier.

The Chinese strategy has allowed the nation to pursue rapid industrialization with accelerated economic growth over the last two decades, while forcefully controlling the chaos on the streets, to lift a record number people out of poverty.

Unlike "autocratic" China, "democratic" India has failed to use a period of high economic growth to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, falling far short of China’s record in protecting its population from the ravages of chronic hunger, a United Nations officials has said.


Here's a video clip on grinding poverty in resurgent India:



Richest 300 people together have as much wealth as the bottom 3 billion people. On average, people in rich countries have 80 times more wealth than the people in the poor countries. Watch this video on extreme wealth inequality in the world today:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

World Bank on Poverty Across India

Superpoor India's Superpower Delusions

Are India and Pakistan Failed States?

India Home to World's Largest Number of Poor, Hungry and Illiterate

India Leads the World in Open Defecation

India Tops in Illiteracy and Defense Spending

Indians Poorer than sub-Saharan Africans

29 comments:

HopeWins Junior said...

In 1992, China and India were about at the same level economically. But by 2010, China was 2.5 times as rich as India:
http://alturl.com/73dds

Had India grown at the same rate as China, India would also have been able to produce results similar to China in poverty reduction.

So why is it that India grew slower than China over the last 20 years? Is China's faster growth because of its 'dictatorship' and India's slower growth because of 'democracy'?

That could play a small part, but the more obvious reason is simply this:
http://alturl.com/xp6pi

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "So why is it that India grew slower than China over the last 20 years? Is China's faster growth because of its 'dictatorship' and India's slower growth because of 'democracy'?"

The Economist article says that with "poorer governance in India and Africa, the next two targets, means that China’s experience is unlikely to be swiftly replicated there".

BRIC said...

I hate to say it (honestly, no offence), but I don't see poverty decreasing in India, even in 50 years time there won't be much difference to the current situation, maybe a few new roads, malls & skyscrapers, but in the grand scheme of things, no real change! More then happy to eat my words, but with headlines like the following (article is only 9 months old), I don't have much faith. Plus, again I hate to say it, but no proud people, no proud country will allow their holiest of holy river (which they consider to be a living goddess) to be in such poor condition, the extremely poor condition of Ganga mata speaks volumes about the attitude and reality of the people and country.

India's Poor Starve as Politicians Steal Their Food

The scam was simple, says Javeed Ahmad, the CBI officer leading its investigation: Often using dummy firms, local officials paid the national government the subsidized prices for the food—as little as one-tenth of the market rate—then sold it to private companies at market prices and pocketed the difference. Poor Indians seeking rations at their local Fair Price Shop would find a locked door, Ahmad says, or be told to “buzz off”

In Satnapur, the children playing in the street have prominent ribs. The village has no electricity, and the ration shop has been closed for months, residents say. Only about half of the village households that qualify for subsidized rice, wheat, sugar, and kerosene receive any, says Surbala Vaish, an activist who works with a local collective of farmers and workers. “This is the most mean-spirited, ruthlessly executed corruption, because it hits the poorest and most vulnerable in society,” says Naresh Saxena, who, as a commissioner to the nation’s Supreme Court, monitors hunger-based programs. “What I find even more shocking is the lack of willingness in trying to stop it.”

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-09-06/indias-poor-starve-as-politicians-steal-their-food

Karim said...

This is why people laugh at Indians.

You see a chart that says you have increased by 50% your portion of the world's poorest people, and you then say that you're on the cusp of solving it all.... again.... in a shorter time than everyone else (15 years? Seriously??).

In the last 15 years (1995-2010), you country has actually increased it's proportion of the world's poorest by 20% (from 27% to 33%). Maybe you should focus on stopping the rise first?

Oostur said...

Loved it. Thanks for continued education.

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "The Economist article says that with "poorer governance in India and Africa, the next two targets, means that China’s experience is unlikely to be swiftly replicated there".
-----

If by 'China’s experience is unlikely to be swiftly replicated there' they mean that India CANNOT grow at 12-14% as China has done in the recent past, then YES, they are correct.
http://alturl.com/kdn55

But growing at a long-term average of 9% with an a sustained investment rate of 36% is certainly possible for India, regardless of its chaotic democracy.

You can't solve the problem of poverty simply by redistribution. You need to produce more in order get rid of poverty. As Hu Jintao said in his speech to the Committee of the People, "We do not have the resources for European-style social programs. Socialism cannot mean the equitable re-distribution of poverty".

Having learnt their economics lesson the HARD way, it looks like the Beijing commies have learnt it very well.

HopeWins Junior said...

^^Karim: "This is why people laugh at Indians.

You see a chart that says you have increased by 50% your portion of the world's poorest people, and you then say that you're on the cusp of solving it all.... again.... in a shorter time than everyone else (15 years? Seriously??).

In the last 15 years (1995-2010), you country has actually increased it's proportion of the world's poorest by 20% (from 27% to 33%). Maybe you should focus on stopping the rise first?"
----

There are a thousand excellent reasons to laugh at the Indians, but this is not one of them.

You are misreading the graph. Look at it again carefully:

The percentages of poor in China, India, East Asia and South Asia have all gone down since 1980, but not equally fast. China & East-Asia moved the fastest, India & South-Asia was second, and sub-Saharan Africa was third.

This is why China & East-Asia appear to shrink from 56 to 20 (~60% fall), while India & South-Asia appear to grow from 29 to 42 (~50% rise), while sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) grows from 11 to 34 (~200% rise).

Think about it this way: For the sake of visualization, eliminate China & East-Asia from the data and look only at the rest of the world. If you did this, you would see:

1) India had 50% of the world's poor in 1980. (22/44)
2) India had 44% of the world's poor in 1996. (27/62)
3) India had 41% if the world's poor in 2010. (33/80)
--AND--
1) SSA had 25% of the world's poor in 1980. (11/44)
2) SSA had 33% of the world's poor in 1996. (20/62)
3) SSA had 42% if the world's poor in 2010. (34/80)

Do you see what I mean? You are confusing between absolute and relative results.

HopeWins Junior said...

^^BRIC said: "....even in 50 years time there won't be much difference to the current situation, maybe a few new roads, malls & skyscrapers, but in the grand scheme of things, no real change..."
---

You could be right. The future is impossible to tell. However, we should keep certain things in mind.

From 1950 to 1992, India' annual investments were roughly 6 times the amount we invested in Pakistan, as you can see here:
http://alturl.com/crpb7

This is not unsurprising given that India had roughly 7 times our population. So this was normal and to be expected.

After 1992, however a change has taken place. As you can see in the same linked graph:

1) India invested 6 times as much as we did in 1992
2) India invested 10 times as much as we did in 2001
3) India invested 25 times as much as we did in 2011.

Any economist will tell us that this is the characteristic of what is known as 'economic take-off'. This means that the next 20 years will not be ANYTHING like the last 20 years. Many people who do not understand economics may be surprised, but knowledgeable people won't.

However, given our inability to boost our internal savings & long-term investments in Pakistan, I very much fear that the next 20 years for us will be very much like the last 20 years. Here is what I mean:
http://alturl.com/645jz

HopeWins Junior said...

Here is something that may interest your readers in terms of comparing India with sub-Saharan Africa (SSA):

1) GDP per capita on nominal basis
http://alturl.com/tqo6e

2) GDP per capita on PPP basis
http://alturl.com/raaxa

3) Domestic Savings Rate
http://alturl.com/o6pxe

4) Total Investment Rate
http://alturl.com/iegbj

5) Population Growth Rate
http://alturl.com/rizv2

There is no better indicator of future economic conditions that the trends in the savings & investment rates.

In addition, for general interest, we could do the same to compare our country to SSA:

1) GDP per capita on nominal basis
http://alturl.com/5g8en

2) GDP per capita on PPP basis
http://alturl.com/8g373

3) Domestic Savings Rate
http://alturl.com/gnw9f

4) Total Investment Rate
http://alturl.com/hiv4o

5) Population Growth Rate
http://alturl.com/z3dz7


Riaz Haq said...

HWJ:"If by 'China’s experience is unlikely to be swiftly replicated there' they mean that India CANNOT grow at 12-14% as China has done in the recent past, then YES, they are correct."

You are so focused on the trees that you keep missing the forest.

What you don't seem to appreciate is that the biggest reason for different outcomes in India and China is the quality of governance....other factors such as investment and growth rates you keep harping on are secondary.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Economist piece on economic growth and democracy:

REAL income in East Asia grew sevenfold from 1950 to 2005. Democracy has grown within the region too, in countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, Mongolia, and the Philippines. Japan and South Korea, the two Asian economies with the highest income levels and the most sophisticated technologies, are “full democracies” (see chart). India, today one of the world’s most important economies, has been mostly democratic since gaining independence in 1947.

Does economic growth go hand-in-hand with democratic regimes? Not necessarily: correlation does not imply causation. One group of economists found growth induced democracy in East Asia; democracy did not lead to growth. They compared North and South Korea, which were both poor in 1950 and under dictatorial regimes from the end of the Korean War until 1980. From 1980, per capita incomes diverged. The same year South Korea began democratising. But South Korea’s better institutions developed due to dictators’ policy choices, they say.

Others, including Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, attribute this type of growth to political decision-making. “Extractive institutions” sometimes develop as elites feel more secure and seek their own ends, they say. “Such growth takes place when elites find it in their interest to allow new technologies and institutional changes necessary for economic growth.”

Paul Collier has controversially argued that authoritarianism can be good for growth. He would also say South Korean growth was successful due to its homogenous society. Its foreign immigrant population only reached 1m in 2007, and the majority are Chinese. In ethnically diverse societies only democracy can work for growth, says Mr Collier, because autocratic leaders with a narrow support base are otherwise tempted to siphon off national income. That explains why diverse India, with three major ethnic groups, four key religions, and 15 official languages, had no choice other than democracy-led growth.

What makes ethnically diverse but autocratic China different, given it has enjoyed rapid growth for the past two decades? China is rather like several small and tightly controlled states spread over one giant landmass, says Mr Collier.

Rapid growth is one thing. In 1980, India and China were both in relative autarky. By 2007, India’s GDP had almost doubled, but China’s increased seven-fold. India’s growth was primarily services led; China’s was industry based. China’s fast growth owed to state policy, Jeffrey Sachs and Messrs Acemoglu and Robinson agree.

Whether autocracy-led growth is sustainable is another. South Korea’s economic freedoms, a consequence of dictators’ decisions, led to demand for political freedoms. China’s Politburo will likely face a similar challenge in future. Democratisation has not yet flourished since economic freedoms are themselves negligible: property rights are lacking.

Asia’s most successful economies are a mix of flawed democracies and hybrid regimes. Most of these are moving towards, rather than away from, democratisation. In a study of 100 economies from 1960 to 1990, Robert Barro found that prosperity tends to inspire democracy. Could China be next, following South Korea’s path? Its new premier last week announced plans to crack down on corruption, describing this as a “self-imposed revolution” aimed at “curbing government power”. If that pledge is not genuine, China’s growth strategy may be doomed to failure in the long term—so, at least, reckon Messrs Acemoglu and Robinson.


http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/03/growth-0

Anonymous said...

'What you don't seem to appreciate is that the biggest reason for different outcomes in India and China is the quality of governance....other factors such as investment and growth rates you keep harping on are secondary.'

you wish! The fact is India is federal from an industrialization perspective states like Gujarat,MAharashtra,Rajasthan,Tamil Nadu have pretty competent governments and have even in this economy been recording 10%+ growth rates!This is not too different from China in the 1990s where the main export led growth miracle started from large SEZs. In any case money talks Indian and Foreign investors aren't fools to be investing this kind of money purely for altruistic reasons in some large states clearly the governments are delivering.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "The fact is India is federal from an industrialization perspective states like Gujarat,MAharashtra,Rajasthan,Tamil Nadu have pretty competent governments and have even in this economy been recording 10%+ growth rates!This is not too different from China in the 1990s where the main export led growth miracle started from large SEZs."

You have either not read the post or not understood what it's about.

So let me try and help you.

What it says is, and what the World Bank Report says, is that unlike China, India has failed to translate its high economic growth rate into a corresponding reduction in extreme poverty. And it goes on to suggest that, because of poor governance, the chances of it happening in the next decades are slim.

And if you think states like Gujarat and Maharashtra are doing better in reducing poverty, think again.

In spite of recent poverty declines with its rapid economic expansion, India still has higher poverty rates than Pakistan, according to a 2011 World Bank report titled "Perspectives on poverty in India : stylized facts from survey data" released in 2011.

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 similar or lower poverty rates than Pakistan's.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/05/world-bank-on-poverty-across-india-in.html

Anonymous 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 similar or lower poverty rates than Pakistan's.

What I am trying to say is that sustained near double digit growth is possible in India.High growth rates for 10-15 years especially accompanied by rapid industrialization almost always result in a steep fall in poverty.India"s decline in poverty has been accelerating,Slower than China but still accelerating.

Are you trying to say Pakistan with a stagnant economy will not eventually be overtaken by India as a whole given current trends? There is a difference in being argumentative and being biased because of the rich history we share.

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "What you don't seem to appreciate is that the biggest reason for different outcomes in India and China is the quality of governance....other factors such as investment and growth rates you keep harping on are secondary"
-----

Find a Professor of Economics who agrees with this statement.

Anonymous said...

Then why is India better in HDI consistently in spite of your poverty data?

Anonymous said...

sorry but I also forgot the multi dimensional poverty index MPI is 0.28 for India and 0.26 for pakistan according to the latest HDP report.

Moreover, the same report also show the $1.25 and below percentage is 21% for Pakistan up from $17.1% and India at 32% down from 34%

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR report on "phenomenal" progress on electrification in Pakistan:

Pakistan has made substantial progress in electrification both in absolute terms and relative to the size of its population over the past two decades, World Bank''s report on "Global Tracking Framework" showed. According to the report, 60 percent of Pakistan''s total population had access to electricity in 1990, 80 percent in 2000 while 91 percent population got access to electricity by 2010. By 2010, 88 percent people of rural and 98 percent of the country''s urban population had access to electricity.

In terms of electricity access deficit, Pakistan ranked 16th, reflecting that as many as 15 million Pakistanis were without power. Around 1.2 billion people in this world have no access to electricity, the report maintained.

The report identified a group of 20 countries where access to electricity grew the fastest relative to the size of their overall population. These countries provided new electricity service to at least two percent of their populations annually. Only two countries - the United Arab Emirates and Qatar - kept the pace of electrification above 3.5 percent of their populations annually. Interestingly, Iraq, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan belong to both groups, showing substantial progress in electrification both in absolute terms and relative to the size of their respective populations.

Of the 20 countries with the largest number of people with access to electricity over the past 20 years, 12 are in Asia. They introduced 1.3 billion people to electricity (of the 1.7 billion electrified globally between 1990 and 2010), 283 million more than their population increase. The most impressive expansion of electrification occurred in India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The advances in these populous countries are of enormous significance for achievement of the global universal access target.

The achievement of universal access to modern energy will depend critically on efforts of 20 high-impact countries. Together, these countries account for more than two thirds of the population currently living without electricity (0.9 billion people) and more than four-fifths of the global population without access to non-solid fuels (2.4 billion people). In terms of electricity, India has by far the largest access deficit; exceeding 300 million people, while for non-solid cooking fuel, India and China each have access deficits exceeding 600 million people.

The detailed World Bank report, which outlines challenges shows that India happens to be the most deprived country as far as provision of energy is concerned: as many as 306.2 million of its people are still without this basic utility. The remaining 19 nations lacking access to energy, with the number of deprived people is as follows: Nigeria (82.4 million), Bangladesh (66.4 million), Ethiopia (63.9 million), Congo (55.9 million), Tanzania (38.2 million), Kenya (31.2 million), Sudan (30.9 million), Uganda (28.5 million), Myanmar (24.6 million), Mozambique (19.9 million), Afghanistan (18.5 million), Korea (18 million), Madagascar (17.8 million), the Philippines (15.6 million), Pakistan (15 million), Burkina Faso (14.3 million), Niger (14.1 million), Indonesia (14 million) and Malawi 13.6 million). ...


http://www.brecorder.com/fuel-a-energy/193:pakistan/1196314:pakistans-growth-in-electricity-access-phenomenal-world-bank/

http://www.unep.org/pdf/778890GTF0full0report.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts of a UN report on population released today:

World population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 with most
growth in developing regions, especially Africa – says UN
India expected to become world’s largest country, passing China around 2028,
while Nigeria could surpass the United States by 2050
New York, 13 June—The current world population of 7.2 billion is projected to
increase by almost one billion people within the next twelve years, reaching 8.1
billion in 2025 and 9.6 billion in 2050, according to a new United Nations report,
World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, launched today.
Most of the population growth will occur in developing regions, which are projected
to increase from 5.9 billion in 2013 to 8.2 billion in 2050...
--------
At the country level, much of the overall increase between now and 2050 is projected
to take place in high-fertility countries, mainly in Africa, as well as countries with
large populations such as India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United
States.
-----
For example,
the population of India is expected to surpass that of China around 2028, when both
countries will have populations of around 1.45 billion. Thereafter, India’s population
will continue to grow for several decades to around 1.6 billion and then decline
slowly to 1.5 billion in 2100. The population of China, on the other hand, is expected
to start decreasing after 2030, possibly reaching 1.1 billion in 2100.
Nigeria’s population is expected to surpass that of the United States before the middle
of the century. By the end of the century, Nigeria could start to rival China as the
second most populous country in the world. By 2100 there could be several other
countries with populations over 200 million, namely Indonesia, the United Republic
of Tanzania, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda and
Niger.
---
...Europe’s population projected to decline by
14 per cent. Fertility in almost all European countries is now below the level required
for full replacement of the population in the long run (around 2.1 children per woman
on average). Fertility for Europe, as a whole, is projected to increase from 1.5 children
per woman in 2005-2010 to 1.8 in 2045-2050, and to 1.9 by 2095-2100. Despite this
increase, childbearing in low-fertility countries is expected to remain below the
replacement level, leading to a likely contraction of total population size.
Longer lives around the world
Life expectancy is projected to increase in developed and developing countries in
future years, according to the report. ----
---------
At the global level, it is projected to reach 76 years in 2045-2050 and 82 years in
2095-2100. By the end of the century, people in developed countries could live on
average around 89 years, compared to about 81 years in developing regions.
--------
In terms of annual averages, the major net receivers of international migrants during 2010-2050 are
projected to be the United States of America (1,000,000 annually), Canada (205,000), the United
Kingdom (172,500), Australia (150,000), Italy (131,250), the Russian Federation (127,500), France
(106,250) and Spain (102,500). The major countries of net emigration are projected to be
Bangladesh (-331,000 annually), China (-300,000), India (-284,000), Mexico (-210,000), Pakistan
(-170,000), Indonesia (-140,000) and the Philippines (-92,500). Economic and demographic
asymmetries across countries that may persist are likely to remain powerful generators of
international migration within the medium-term future.
...


http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Documentation/pdf/WPP2012_Press_Release.pdf

http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Documentation/pdf/WPP2012_%20KEY%20FINDINGS.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's TOI on Indian economic crisis:

NEW DELHI: The Indian economy is in a crisis with growth slowing down, fiscal and current account deficits running high amid persistent inflation, says a study by an economic think tank.

"The Indian economy is in a crisis. While the growth rate has been declining...the issue (of high CAD) gets amplified against the backdrop of slowing economy, high fiscal deficit and persistent inflation," National Council of Applied Economic Research said.

India's current account deficit (CAD) rose to a record 6.7 per cent in the quarter ended December of 2012-13.

Attributing high CAD to GDP ratio slowdown in exports and increase in imports of oil, coal and gold, NCAER said the high CAD requires high foreign investment.

"This might be a risky proposition given the global financial volatility and keeping in view the interests of foreign investors," it said.

The study said that the persistent increase will lead to macroeconomic risk as it raises concerns about economy's ability to honour its external payments obligations. "It also affects the confidence of potential lenders and investors."

The NCAER study said there is a need to boost exports of merchandise and hence lower the deficit on balance of trade.

As per the study, manufacturing in India is still not internationally competitive in several sectors of production.

"Some long-term factors that need attention involve infrastructure, labour laws and governance reforms...moving to goods and services tax ( GST) would add to India's global competitiveness in manufactured goods," NCAER said.

It further said India should play a pro-active role in strengthening its trade integration with other Asian nations.

"India's trade and investment relations with Asia will play a major role in boosting its exports in the Asian century," the study said.

Also, India should strengthen its bilateral agreements and help bring about foreign trade agreements in groupings such as ASEAN+6 nations, it added.

The six countries outside ASEAN are Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Indian-economy-is-in-a-crisis-Study/articleshow/20614222.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' blog post on lack of hygiene in India:

My Indian friends and I joke around a lot about me as the typical white American guy visiting India. Cows! Con men! Colors! Most people I’ve met in India have restricted their reactions to my westerner-in-the-east experiences to gentle teasing. When I stuck a picture of a man urinating in public on my Facebook page, calling it one more picture of what you see everywhere you go in India, people weren’t as patient. What was I doing? Insulting the nation? Focusing on the ugly because it’s what all the westerners do when they visit India? Why does India provoke such visceral reactions in visitors?

Public urination, public defecation, dirt, garbage, filth, the poor living on the street — talking about these things, even acknowledging that they’re in front of your face, risks making your hosts unhappy, and possibly angry. It’s the third rail of India, and the voltage can be lethal. That’s why I was surprised when B.S. Raghavan decided to touch it with all 10 fingers.

Raghavan’s column in The Hindu Business Line newspaper begins with this headline: Are Indians by nature unhygienic?

Consider these excerpts:

From time to time, in their unguarded moments, highly placed persons in advanced industrial countries have burst out against Indians for being filthy and dirty in their ways of life. A majority of visitors to India from those countries complain of “Delhi belly” within a few hours of arrival, and some fall seriously ill.

There is no point in getting infuriated or defensive about this. The general lack of cleanliness and hygiene hits the eye wherever one goes in India — hotels, hospitals, households, work places, railway trains, airplanes and, yes, temples. Indians think nothing of spitting whenever they like and wherever they choose, and living in surroundings which they themselves make unliveable by their dirty habits. …

Open defecation has become so rooted in India that even when toilet facilities are provided, the spaces round temple complexes, temple tanks, beaches, parks, pavements, and indeed, any open area are covered with faecal matter. …

Even as Indians, we are forced to recoil with horror at the infinite tolerance of fellow Indians to pile-ups of garbage, overflowing sewage, open drains and generally foul-smelling environs.

There’s plenty more that you can read in that story, but I’ll direct you to the article. I’ll also ask you some questions:

Some people say you shouldn’t point out these problems, and that every country has problems. Do you agree with this statement? Why?
Does anyone disagree with Raghavan’s descriptions of these sights and smells?
Is this even a problem? Or should people get used to it?
Should visitors, especially ones from countries where people are generally wealthier, say nothing, and pretend that they don’t see unpleasant things?
As for me, I can say this: I got used to it, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice it. Indians notice it too. Otherwise, people wouldn’t suggest public shaming campaigns against people urinating in public, they wouldn’t threaten fines for doing it, and they wouldn’t respond with relief to plans to finally make sure that toilets on India’s trains don’t open directly onto the tracks. Of course, these are people in India. It’s a family, taking care of business the family way.

As for me, the message usually seems to be: “If you don’t love it, leave it.” It would be nice if there were some other answer. Acknowledging problems, even ones that are almost impossible to solve, makes them easier to confront.


http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2012/11/17/indians-inherently-unhygienic-indian-writer-touches-third-rail/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Economist.com piece on welfare spending in Asia:

True to their tradition of self-reliance, many Asian countries lean heavily towards social insurance, which ties benefits to contributions, rather than social assistance, which ties benefits to circumstances. In South Korea, for example, the mix is about 80% insurance to 20% assistance, according to the index. In Singapore, nine-tenths of the government’s efforts consist of contributions to the country’s Central Provident Fund, a compulsory saving scheme from which Singaporeans can draw for housing, health care and retirement.

But a number of countries are also experimenting with cash transfers. In 2009 Thailand’s Chek Chuay Chaat scheme handed out 2,000 baht ($65) to registered workers earning less than 15,000 baht a month, to help them weather the global financial crisis. And in South Asia, social insurance is far less dominant. That may reflect the limited reach and credibility of South Asian states, which find it difficult to collect and track contributions, especially if people doubt the state’s capacity to provide promised benefits. Many governments find it easier just to hand out cheap grain, or to pay the poor to dig ditches or lay roads. India is a case in point.

Prosperous Japan is the only country that protects its people both well and widely, according to the index. In Singapore, now richer than Japan, social protection is spread broadly but thinly, the index shows. The same is true of most of South-East Asia’s poorer countries, where the welfare state is still embryonic. Malaysia, however, has achieved depth (spending 27% of per-person GDP on each beneficiary) without breadth (its efforts reached only 14% of potential beneficiaries for the year the index was calculated). Pakistan, where social-protection spending helps the non-poor more than the poor, has also prized depth over breadth. India, on the other hand, has achieved neither.


http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21580531-asias-emerging-welfare-states-spread-themselves-thinly-widefare

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on a World Bank study of poverty reduction in Pakistan:

A new World Bank study says Pakistan has demonstrated that it can reduce poverty even at relatively low rates of growth of 3.2 to 4.5 per cent but not at growth of GDP per capita of 1pc, noting that it is struggling to sustain that growth.

“International comparisons suggest that Pakistan has been a good performer in turning growth into poverty reduction. Countries that are more successful in reducing poverty tend to be better at generating sustained growth, however the issue for Pakistan will thus be sustaining growth,” according to World Bank policy note on poverty in Pakistan.

The observation that Pakistan is successful in reducing poverty when GDP grows but cannot sustain that growth has two important policy implications. With more growth interruptions, an adequate social protection system becomes more important.

The second implication is that a renewed effort to address the problem that work against sustained growth would be well justified for faster poverty reduction.

This effort should lead to policy priorities for poverty reduction different from those in countries better able to sustain growth but unable to convert that growth into rapid poverty reduction, it says.

The poor are vulnerable to shocks — be they of natural disasters, health or macro policy. An adequate system would ensure that when shocks hit, the poor and vulnerable can still maintain the investments they need to increase their incomes and their children’s welfare.

Describing safety net programme like Benazir Income Support Programme as no substitute for sustained growth, the study says due to stop-go growth and too many natural disasters, Pakistan has to ensure a strong safety net programme as part of an overall poverty reduction strategy.

The study estimates that in Punjab, the largest province, where it says data appears more reliable, poverty has fallen considerably from 33.5pc in 2001-02 to 16.4pc in 2007-08, after adjusting for higher food prices.

This improvement was driven largely by increasing returns in the non-farm sector, in both urban and rural areas.

Over the period, the growth of per capita consumption of the bottom 40pc of Punjab’s population exceeded GDP per capita growth. Subsequently, over 2007-08, 2010-11, per capita real consumption growth in Punjab was stagnant, and the equality of opportunity for primary education completion rates seemed to improve but alongside a slowdown in the rate of improvement in indicators for water and sanitation and for primary enrolment.

The report says that the last three years have seen sizeable differences in the improving social indicators. Sindh has been lagging in its primary completion rates, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has been lagging in coverage of improved sanitation.

According to the report, opportunity is growing in both urban and rural areas for education and sanitation, which is a very positive sign. Urban children have more absolute opportunity than rural children, but the rate of growth in rural areas is growing faster.


http://dawn.com/news/1030803/wb-hopeful-pakistan-can-reduce-poverty

http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/07/17/000356161_20130717144219/Rendered/PDF/795720BRI0SASE0ox0377381B00PUBLIC00.pdf

ARZ said...

Below are two points from the survey you are picking and quoting to prove pakistani superiority.
1.Absolute numbers of extremly poor people in India declined from 429M in 1981 to 400M in 2010 despite an avg of 59% increase in population in the same time period.
2.In the same time period extreme poverty rates declined from the high of 60% to 33% of its population. Given the mammoth population its a huge achievement.
Demeaning India or Indians by selective reporting and subtle obfuscation may help satisfy false ego or reinforce superiority but ground conditions are different and they are showing.

Riaz Haq said...

ARZ: "Absolute numbers of extremly poor people in India declined from 429M in 1981 to 400M in 2010 despite an avg of 59% increase in population in the same time period."

29 million fewer extremely poor Indians after 30 years of “India Shining”? That’s quite an accomplishment. Isn’t it? Let’s all celebrate!!!

Riaz Haq said...

In the first 25 days of 2014 (in Delhi), 197 thumbnail images have gone up in the gallery of nameless dead.

Everyday, an average of seven people are dying unidentified and unclaimed in Delhi's winter. But what may be even more heart-rending is that such deaths are not limited to this season. As police data shows, they are an all-weather phenomenon. Around 2,900 died unidentified in Delhi last year. 241 perished in January; 225 in April; 279 in July; and, 238 in October.

The highest deaths, 323, took place in May. Data for last three years shows that unidentified deaths peaked in summer and monsoon. A majority of such deaths were of able-bodied men. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/The-everyday-tableau-of-Delhis-nameless-dead/articleshow/29430667.cms

Anonymous said...

The end of February saw the release of another round of disappointing figures on India’s economy. In the final quarter of 2013, India’s economy grew by 4.7 percent, the fifth consecutive quarter of sub-5 percent growth. Compared with the ailing economics of Europe, India’s growth rate appears positively bullish. But 4.7 percent is far below the 8 percent growth rate that India’s government says it needs to combat the country’s chronic development challenges. As India heads towards a landmark election – in which the government will almost certainly change hands – this dire economic performance casts a long shadow.

The incumbent UPA government, a coalition of left-leaning parties, has long championed an “inclusive” growth model. But its failure to ensure that the benefits of growth have “trickled down” to the poor is well established. When adjusted for variations in the cost of living, 32.7 percent of India’s population live below the international extreme poverty line of $1.25 per day. India is home to a third of the world’s poor, a third of the world’s slave population, and on a host of other social and development indicators it continues to slip further and further behind other developing countries.

Poverty lines are not entirely reliable measures of deprivation, instead they allow for long-term trends to be traced. According to figures compiled by the World Bank and McKinsey, since the 1980s India has only lifted 35 million people out of extreme poverty. In China the figure is 678 million. India’s poor poverty-reduction rate is matched by rapid increases in income inequality. In January India’s Business Standard reported income inequality in urban areas across a third of India’s states reached its highest point in 2011-12 since 1973-74.

In theory widening gaps between the rich and the poor should encourage the latter to innovate and compete and because of this, economists have tended to neglect it as a developmental concern. But this is now changing. As Christine Lagarde, chairperson of the International Monetary Fund said last month in a speech to the World Economic Forum that inequality “harms the pace and sustainability of growth over the long term.”

The widening gap in income levels in urban areas is the product of a number of factors: continued rural-to-urban migration, a contracting industrial sector and a growing under-skilled labor force. India is urbanizing rapidly, with the urban population set to increase from 27.8 percent in 2011 to 38 percent by 2025. The country’s shrinking manufacturing sector has not been able to absorb this migrant labor force, exacerbating the problems of urban unemployment, slum expansion and widening income inequality. These challenges have had a long gestation, and persistent policy neglect is to blame. As the Indian Express complained in a recent op-ed, “The political class, across the ideological divide, continues to be evasive in addressing the legitimate needs of a fast growing urban India.”

Manufacturing has the potential to be an engine of growth and development. India’s Finance Minister said as much in his valedictory budget speech early last month, when he described Indian industry as the country’s economic “Achilles’ heel.” But the country’s manufacturing sector continues to be hobbled by poor electrification, a shortage of skilled workers and inflexible hiring-and-firing practices.

Improving public services, reforming labor regulations and boosting infrastructure are three things the World Bank has consistently called for, each of which is central to India’s effort to tackle poverty, boost employment and revive industry.

Until then India is witnessing the curious phenomenon of “reverse migration”: due to the lack of manufacturing jobs, 12 million people are set to return to rural areas from cities by 2019. These estimates, produced by Crisil, an Indian research institute, also show that the rate of job creation across both industry and agriculture is declining....

http://thediplomat.com/2014/03/indias-growing-urban-poverty-crisis/

Riaz Haq said...

With India's population growth faster than poverty reduction rates, the absolute number of poor in India has gone up 5% since 1990.

Excerpt from the Guardian:

" (British minister of international development) Alexander contrasted the rapid growth in China with India's economic success - highlighting government figures that showed the number of poor people had dropped in the one-party communist state by 70% since 1990 but had risen in the world's biggest democracy by 5%"

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/nov/19/britain-aid-to-india-825m

Riaz Haq said...

#India "riddled with inequality" says NY Times' Somini Sengupta in "End of Karma" #caste http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/books/review/the-end-of-karma-by-somini-sengupta.html?_r=0 …


In November 1949, India had been independent for slightly more than two years, and through that duration, a drafting committee labored to devise a constitution for the new nation. The work was nearly finished, but critics grumbled about how long it had taken; one pundit thought the panel ought to have been called the “drifting committee.” B. R. Ambedkar, the Columbia-educated lawyer heading the group, defended his colleagues. Their task was difficult. The constitution incorporated 395 articles and 2,473 amendments, a density that reflected India’s complications — its iniquities of caste, its poverty, its various languages and faiths. India already had political democracy (one vote per citizen), but the constitution also needed to foster social democracy. “How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?” Ambedkar said in a speech. “We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment, or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political ­democracy.”

The lives of India’s poor and its lowest castes have improved in many ways, but the country remains riddled with inequality; in fact, over the last 35 years the gulf between the wealthiest and the most impoverished has widened. In “The End of Karma,” Somini Sengupta delivers a portentous warning that echoes Ambedkar’s, updated for the present. A quarter of India’s 1.25 billion people are younger than 15; every month, until 2030, nearly a million Indians will turn 18, raring for more education and employment prospects. The size and energy of such a work force is a nation’s dream — the celebrated “demographic dividend.” But the state’s failure to supply these young people with schools, universities and jobs, and to help them climb into prosperity, will tug India into perilous waters, Sengupta writes. “In the coming years, India can thrive because of its young. Or it can implode. Or both. There’s little time left.”


“The End of Karma” shifts in and out of three modes of narrative. The weakest involves Sengupta’s recollections of a childhood in India and North America, as well as her decision, during the stint in New Delhi, to adopt a baby girl. Her interest in India’s youth, she suggests, was quickened by this entry into her life by her daughter, a bona fide member of these restless generations, a unit of India’s demographic dividend. But much of this feels tenuous, the sort of material an editor commonly asks for, reproaching a writer because her manuscript is Not Personal Enough. The book’s second mode is expository — summations of news, history and statistics, which Sengupta delivers in cool, swift language. Two pages about Laloo Prasad Yadav, a powerful politician in the state of Bihar, are a marvel of economy, laying bare his background, his machinery of caste politics, his wrecking of Bihar, and his folksy charisma.

In the book’s most vibrant sections, Sengupta profiles seven young Indians, shadowing some of them over years. All grew up in poor or lower-middle-class homes — the socioeconomic brackets that hold a majority of India’s populace — and their lives illustrate the ways in which the state is failing its youth.