India achieves 27% decline in poverty

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 12, 2008 07:30 hrs

New Delhi: Riding on the better social indicators like health and primary education, India has achieved an over 27 per cent decline in poverty and is well on track to meet the target set for 2015, according to the UN.

Even as it painted a bleak outlook for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for the world, the United Nations in its annual report today said India had made significant inroads into the health and primary education sectors.

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However, there were no significant improvement in the secondary education sector.

"There was a 27.5 per cent reduction in poverty in India. The target of 19 per cent reduction by 2015 is well likely to be achieved," Maxine Olson, UN representative in India, said.

India was, however, lagging as far as reduction in the rate of maternal and infant mortality were concerned.

Similar was the case with controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS as well as providing clean drinking water and sanitation facilities to its population, the report said.

The target appears unlikely to be met unless there is targeted intervention and improvement in the institutional delivery mechanism, P N Kulkarni, one of the researchers who compiled the report told reporters here.

The annual report, a yardstick for measuring the achievement of the MDGs, predicted that higher food prices may push 100 million people deeper into poverty.

According to the report, there has been a strong and sustained progress in reducing extreme poverty. But, improved estimates of poverty from the World Bank show that the number of poor in the developing world is larger than previously thought, at 1.4 billion people. But the new estimates confirm that between 1990 and 2005, the number of people living in extreme poverty fell by over 400 million, and that the 1990 global poverty rate is likely to fall by the targeted 50 per cent by 2015.

While most of the decline occurred in East Asia, particularly China, other regions had much smaller decreases in the poverty rate and only modest falls in the number of poor. Sub-Saharan Africa and the former Soviet Republics actually saw the number of poor increase between 1990 and 2005.

Among the MDGs, gains noted in the report were that primary school enrolment has a 90 per cent increase and is in striking distance of the 2015 goal of 100 per cent in all but two out of 10 regions of the world.

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Within primary schools, gender parity is at 95 per cent in six out of 10 regions. Experts said that India is not on track on achieving this target.

Deaths from measles have been cut in one third between 2000 and 2006, and the vaccination rate among developing world children has reached 80 per cent.

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More than one and a half billion people have gained access to clean drinking water since 1990-- but due to stress on fresh water resources nearly three billion people now live in regions facing water scarcity.