India Vibrant, or Poor?
A country of more than one billion people with almost half of them in the productive age group should make for an energetic and vibrant India. But can numbers this be strength when as many as 36% of Indians are illiterate, when one in four children are not enrolled in school, and only 60% of those who enroll, reach standard five? People living in poverty, illiteracy and squalor can hardly be the strength of any nation.
India increases its population by about 18 million every year at the annual growth rate of 1.5 percent. According to the latest estimate 33 percent of the Indian population is poor, though World Bank’s $1.25 a day income line puts the figure at 42 percent and its $2 or less benchmark estimates Indian poverty as 76%. An analysis using the latest multidimensional index (MPI) of UNDP puts the figure of Indian poverty at 55%.
If we stick to the official poverty figure of 33 percent, it is safe to assume that the headcount of the poor is increasing by about 6 million every year due to population growth alone !! This is more than the population of Denmark (5.5 million) and close to that of Jordan (6.1 million) and is phenomenal.
Despite 8 – 9% annual GDP India continues to face significant income inequality, poverty and malnutrition. So, one is left wondering whether India is a poor country or an economic superpower. “Both” should be probably the best answer.