Multidimensional Poverty: India is Home to 75% of World's Population Deprived of Basic Living Standards

Over 75% of the world's poor deprived of basic living standards (nutrition, cooking fuel, sanitation and housing) live in India compared to 4.6% in Bangladesh and 4.1% in Pakistan, according to a recently released OPHI/UNDP report on multidimensional poverty.  Here's what the report says: "More than 45.5 million poor people are deprived in only these four indicators (nutrition, cooking fuel, sanitation and housing). Of those people, 34.4 million live in India, 2.1 million in Bangladesh and 1.9 million in Pakistan—making this a predominantly South Asian profile". 

Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2022. Source: OPHI/UNDP
Income Poverty in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Source: Our World...

The UNDP poverty report shows that the income poverty (people living on $1.90 or less per day) in Pakistan is 3.6% while it is 22.5% in India and 14.3% in Bangladesh. In terms of the population vulnerable to multidimensional poverty, Pakistan (12.9%) does better than Bangladesh (18.2%) and India (18.7%)  However, Pakistan fares worse than India and Bangladesh in multiple dimensions of poverty. The headline multidimensional poverty (MPI) figure for Pakistan (0.198) is worse than for Bangladesh (0.104) and India (0.069). This is primarily due to the education and health deficits in Pakistan. Adults with fewer than 6 years of schooling are considered multidimensionally poor by OPHI/UNDP.  Income poverty is not included in the MPI calculations. The data used by OHP/UNDP for MPI calculation is from years 2017/18 for Pakistan and from years 2019/2021 for India. 

Multidimensional Poverty in South Asia. Source: UNDP

The Indian government's reported multidimensional poverty rate of 25.01% is much higher than the OPHI/UNDP estimate of 16.4%. NITI Ayog report released in November 2021 says: "India’s national MPI identifies 25.01 percent of the population as multidimensionally poor".

Multidimensional Poverty in India. Source: NITI Ayog via IIP

Earlier this year,  Global Hunger Index 2022 reported that  India ranks 107th for hunger among 121 nations. The nation fares worse than all of its South Asian neighbors except for war-torn Afghanistan ranked 109, according to the the report. Sri Lanka ranks 64, Nepal 81, Bangladesh 84 and Pakistan 99. India and Pakistan have levels of hunger that are considered serious. Both have slipped on the hunger charts from 2021 when India was ranked 101 and Pakistan 92.  Seventeen countries, including Bosnia, China, Kuwait, Turkey and UAE, are collectively ranked between 1 and 17 for having a score of less than five.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on November 21, 2022 at 9:16am


Table 1: Pakistan Key demographic indicators
Indicator Pakistan
Total area, in sq km, million 0.796
Population (2017), thousand d 197,016
Migrant population (2017), thousand d 3,398
Migrant population (2017), % total population d 1.7%
Urban Population (2017), % of total b 36.4%
Population Growth rate (2017), annual % b 1.9%
Human Development Index (2017) c 0.562
Country Rank out of 189 c 150/189
Unemployment (2017), % of labour force c 4.0%
Youth Unemployment (2017), % ages 15-24 c 7.7%
Multidimensional Poverty Headcount (2015), % 38.8%
Gini Coefficient (2010-2017)
c 30.7
Foreign Direct Investment (net inflows, 2017), current USD, billion b 2.815
Net Official Development Assistance Received (2017), current USD, billion b 2.953
Personal Remittances Received (2017), current USD, billion b 19.698
Personal Remittances Received (2017), % GDP b 6.5%
Source: b World Bank, 2018; c UNDP, 2018; d UNDESA, 2017;
e UNDP and OPHI (2016).

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 4, 2022 at 7:04pm
Having access is not the same as actual use of toilets 

Why millions of Indians don't use the toilets they have

Oct 5, 2019 — According to Census 2011, 69.3% of rural households didn't own a toilet or latrine, but by June 2019
Roshani Bhandari takes short, quick steps and disappears behind shrubs near a natural spring in her village in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district. After answering nature’s call, the 48-year-old starts her km-long trek back home. Like other families in her village of Malna, Roshani has a toilet at home — one she seldom uses. “The toilet at home has no water. Sometimes, we store water in cans but it is not enough for the entire family. It’s easier in the open where water is readily available.”

Water-scarce Malna was among Indian villages that saw toilets being built at an unprecedented pace under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). From a mere 37,112 toilets in rural areas of Uttarakhand in 2014, the number now stands at 4,86,362. All 35 families in Malna have had a toilet since 2015, but lack of water means not everyone is using these. It’s the same story in Kharwada village in Rajasthan’s Sirohi district, where toilets without water are being used to store discarded items. Both Rajasthan and Uttarakhand were declared open defecation-free as early as 2018.
Comment by Riaz Haq on December 4, 2022 at 7:18pm
India had 1.2 billion mobile subscribers in 2021, of which about 750 million are smartphone users.

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No latrines and drinking water for more than half of India ...

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Indian toilet charity renames village after Trump | Reuters

Jun 23, 2017 — A toilet charity has renamed an Indian village after U.S. President Donald Trump as part of a promotional push to raise cash and support  ...
Comment by Riaz Haq on December 5, 2022 at 7:15am
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Comment by Riaz Haq on December 29, 2022 at 8:20am

بلوچستان: دیہی خواتین کا اسلام آباد سے آن لائن علاج

ایک غیر سرکاری ادارے نے بلوچستان کے 14 شہروں میں ٹیلی ہیلتھ سینٹرز قائم کیے ہیں، جہاں دوردراز علاقوں سے آنے والی خواتین کا علاج اسلام آباد میں بیٹھے ڈاکٹر کرتے ہیں۔

بلوچستان کے ضلع موسیٰ خیل کے پہاڑی گاؤں لوغی سے تعلق رکھنے والی عمر رسیدہ خاتون بی بی سارہ اپنی حاملہ بہو کو شہر لائی ہیں، جہاں کے طبی مرکز میں اسلام آباد سے ایک گائناکالوجسٹ ان کا آن لائن معائنہ کرتی ہیں۔

روایتی بشتون لباس میں ملبوس 50 سالہ بی بی سارہ نے انڈپینڈنٹ اردو کو بتایا کہ ان کے گاؤں کے کلینک میں ڈاکٹر نہیں ہوتے بلکہ غیر تربیت یافتہ دائیاں علاج کرتی ہیں، جو ان سے پیسے بھی لیتی ہیں۔

انہوں نے مزید بتایا کہ ’یہاں ڈاکٹر بھی بڑی ہے اور پیسے بھی نہیں لیتے، علاج بھی بہت اچھا ہوتا ہے۔‘

بی بی سارہ ان ہزاروں خواتین میں سے ایک ہیں، جو علاج کے اخراجات برداشت نہیں کرسکتیں اور نہ ہی علاج کروانے کے لیے کسی متصل بڑے شہر کا سفر کر سکتی ہیں۔

بلوچستان میں دو ہزار کی آبادی کے لیے صرف ایک ڈاکٹر موجود ہے۔ اس خلا کو پورا کرنے کے لیے نیم سرکاری ادارے پیپلز پرائمری ہیلتھ کیئر انیشی ایٹو (پی پی ایچ آئی) کی جانب سے ٹیلی ہیلتھ سینٹر کا قیام عمل میں لایا گیا ہے، جہاں بچوں اور خواتین مریضوں کا وفاقی دارالحکومت اسلام آباد کے ماہر ڈاکٹروں سے ویڈیو لنک کے ذریعے معائنہ اور علاج کرایا جاتا ہے۔

مرکز میں کام کرنے والی ایل ایچ وی زرمینہ کا کہنا تھا کہ یہاں ان کے پاس گائنی، سکن اور دیگر امراض کے مریض آتے ہیں۔

’ہم مریضوں کی ہسٹری لے کر ڈاکٹر کو بھیجتے ہیں، وہ ادویات تجویز کرتی ہیں، جس کے بعد فارمیسی سے مریضوں کو مفت ادویات فراہم کی جاتی ہیں۔‘

ڈسٹرکٹ سپورٹ مینیجر پی پی ایچ آئی سید امان شاہ نے انڈپینڈنٹ اردو کو بتایا کہ ٹیلی ہیلتھ سینٹر کا قیام گذشتہ سال جون میں عمل میں لایا گیا، جس کا بنیادی مقصد صوبے کے دور دراز علاقوں میں لوگوں کو ان کی دہلیز پر طبی سہولیات فراہم کرنا ہے۔

انہوں نے بتایا کہ ’صوبے میں قائم 14 ٹیلی ہیلتھ سینٹرز میں گائناکالوجسٹ، ماہرامراض جلد، جنرل فزیشن اور دیگر ڈاکٹرز موجود ہیں۔‘

جنوبی پنجاب سے متصل ضلع موسیٰ خیل کا شمار بلوچستان کے ان پسماندہ و دور دراز اضلاع میں ہوتا ہے، جہاں کے لوگ صحت، تعلیم اور پینے کے صاف پانی سمیت تمام بنیادی ضروریات زندگی سے محروم ہیں۔

اس ضلع میں سڑک اور ٹرانسپورٹ کی سہولت کی عدم موجودگی کے باعث زچگی کے دوران اکثر خواتین دم توڑ جاتی ہیں، جبکہ نوزائیدہ بچوں میں غذائی قلت کی شرح بھی دیگر اضلاع سے کئی گنا زیادہ ہے، جس کی بنیادی وجہ غربت اور کم شرح خواندگی بتائی جاتی ہیں۔

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 7, 2023 at 8:02pm

Postponing India’s census is terrible for the country
But it may suit Narendra Modi just fine

Narendra Modi often overstates his achievements. For example, the Hindu-nationalist prime minister’s claim that all Indian villages have been electrified on his watch glosses over the definition: only public buildings and 10% of households need a connection for the village to count as such. And three years after Mr Modi declared India “open-defecation free”, millions of villagers are still purging al fresco. An absence of up-to-date census information makes it harder to check such inflated claims. It is also a disaster for the vast array of policymaking reliant on solid population and development data.


Three years ago India’s government was scheduled to pose its citizens a long list of basic but important questions. How many people live in your house? What is it made of? Do you have a toilet? A car? An internet connection? The answers would refresh data from the country’s previous census in 2011, which, given India’s rapid development, were wildly out of date. Because of India’s covid-19 lockdown, however, the questions were never asked.

Almost three years later, and though India has officially left the pandemic behind, there has been no attempt to reschedule the decennial census. It may not happen until after parliamentary elections in 2024, or at all. Opposition politicians and development experts smell a rat.


For a while policymakers can tide themselves over with estimates, but eventually these need to be corrected with accurate numbers. “Right now we’re relying on data from the 2011 census, but we know our results will be off by a lot because things have changed so much since then,” says Pronab Sen, a former chairman of the National Statistical Commission who works on the household-consumption survey. And bad data lead to bad policy. A study in 2020 estimated that some 100m people may have missed out on food aid to which they were entitled because the distribution system uses decade-old numbers.

Similarly, it is important to know how many children live in an area before building schools and hiring teachers. The educational misfiring caused by the absence of such knowledge is particularly acute in fast-growing cities such as Delhi or Bangalore, says Narayanan Unni, who is advising the government on the census. “We basically don’t know how many people live in these places now, so proper planning for public services is really hard.”

The home ministry, which is in charge of the census, continues to blame its postponement on the pandemic, most recently in response to a parliamentary question on December 13th. It said the delay would continue “until further orders”, giving no time-frame for a resumption of data-gathering. Many statisticians and social scientists are mystified by this explanation: it is over a year since India resumed holding elections and other big political events.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 9, 2023 at 8:39am

India's nominal GDP growth is likely to fall in 2023-24, hurting tax collections and putting pressure on the federal government to reduce the budget gap by cutting expenses ahead of national elections in 2024.

Nominal GDP growth, which includes inflation, is the benchmark used to estimate tax collections in the upcoming budget to be presented on Feb. 1. It is estimated to be around 15.4% for the current financial year.

At least four leading economists expect nominal GDP growth to come in between 8% and 11% as inflation slows and real GDP growth eases from an estimated 7% this year, when pandemic-related distortions and pent-up demand pushed up growth rates.

A lower tax revenue will limit the government's ability to spend and support the economy as the country heads to national elections in 2024. It will also strain efforts to bring down the fiscal deficit towards the medium-term target of 4.5% of GDP by 2025/26.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 17, 2023 at 8:13am

Pakistan remains a lower-middle income country and will continue to be vulnerable to fluctuating energy prices, warns a UN report released on Monday.

The report also places India and Bangladesh among lower-middle-income countries despite their economic gains and urges the entire South Asian region to reduce its energy consumption. Nepal is also placed in the same category, although Afghanistan is listed among low-income countries.

The report by the UN labour agency warns that finding a decent and well-paid job will be harder in 2023 than it was in 2022, thanks to the continuing global economic downturn.

The report notes that South Asia has not been affected by the Ukraine war as it has few direct links with Russia and Ukraine. But it is “very vulnerable to the higher global commodity prices that have resulted from the conflict.”

According to this report, South Asia “remains highly vulnerable to natural disasters, for example on the flood plains of Pakistan and Bangladesh.” Countries such as Pakistan “are also increasingly held back by very high levels of energy subsidies, which weigh heavily on public finances and are failing to reduce poverty effectively.”

The report argues that recent high and volatile energy prices have shown South Asia’s vulnerability to energy imports, and underlines “a clear need to become less dependent on these imports.”

The UN labour agency predicts that the number of people unemployed around the world would rise slightly to 208 million in 2023. This corresponds to a global unemployment rate of 5.8 per cent — or 16 million people — according to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) World Employment and Social Outlook Trends report. Today’s economic slowdown “means that many workers will have to accept lower quality jobs, often at very low pay, sometimes with insufficient hours,” the report adds.

The UN agency notes that this already happening in Europe and other developed countries, thanks to the Ukraine war and the continued disruption of global supply chains, both of which are counteracting the robust stimulus packages implemented to ride out the Covid-19 crisis. “Real wages we project for 2022 to have declined by 2.2pc in advanced countries and of course, Europe makes up a significant proportion of advanced countries, versus a rise in real wages in developing countries,” says Richard Samans, Director of ILO’s Research Department. The report also predicts a setback to the informal economy, which will adversely affect efforts to help the world’s two billion informal workers join the formal employment sector.

As prices rise faster than wages, the cost-of-living crisis risks pushing more people into poverty, the report adds, pointing out that the trend follows significant declines in income during the Covid-19 crisis, which affected low-income groups most, in many countries. Some 214m workers live in extreme poverty today, “in other words with $1.90 a day.

From a gender perspective, the unequal development of the global jobs market continues to be concerning. There are 290 million youth who are not in employment, or in education or training and “young women are faring much worse,” the report warns.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 14, 2023 at 10:13pm

#India, soon world's most populous nation, doesn't know how many people it has. Critics of PM #Modi have accused his gov’t of delaying the census to hide data on politically sensitive issues, such as #unemployment, ahead of national #elections due in 2024.

Experts say the delay in updating data like employment, housing, literacy levels, migration patterns and infant mortality, which are captured by the census, affects social and economic planning and policy making in the huge Asian economy.

Calling census data "indispensable", Rachna Sharma, a fellow at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, said studies like the consumption expenditure survey and the periodic labour force survey are estimations based on information from the census.

"In the absence of latest census data, the estimations are based on data that is one decade old and is likely to provide estimates that are far from reality," Sharma said.

A senior official at the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation said census data from 2011, when the count was last conducted, was being used for projections and estimates required to assess government spending.

A spokesman for the ministry said its role was limited to providing the best possible projections and could not comment on the census process. The Prime Minister's Office did not respond to requests for comment

Two other government officials, one from the federal home (interior) ministry and another from the office of the Registrar General of India, said the delay was largely due to the government's decision to fine-tune the census process and make it foolproof with the help of technology.

The home ministry official said the software that will be used to gather census data on a mobile phone app has to be synchronised with existing identity databases, including the national identity card, called Aadhaar, which was taking time.

The office of the Registrar General of India, which is responsible for the census, did not respond to a request for comment.

The main opposition Congress party and critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have accused the government of delaying the census to hide data on politically sensitive issues, such as unemployment, ahead of national elections due in 2024.

"This government has often displayed its open rivalry with data," said Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera. "On important matters like employment, Covid deaths etc., we have seen how the Modi government has preferred to cloak critical data.”

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's national spokesperson, Gopal Krishna Agarwal, dismissed the criticism.

"I want to know on what basis they are saying this. Which is the social parameter on which our performance in nine years is worse than their 65 years?" he said, referring to the Congress party's years in power.

The United Nations has projected India's population could touch 1,425,775,850 on April 14, overtaking China on that day.

The 2011 census had put India's population at 1.21 billion, meaning the country has added 210 million, or almost the number of people in Brazil, to its population in 12 years.

India's census is conducted by about 330,000 government school teachers who first go door-to-door listing all houses across the country and then return to them with a second list of questions.

They ask more than two dozen questions each time in 16 languages in the two phases that will be spread over 11 months, according to the plan made for 2021.

The numbers will be tabulated and final data made public months later. The entire exercise was estimated to cost 87.5 billion rupees ($1.05 billion) in 2019.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 13, 2023 at 5:12pm

UNICEF Pakistan Humanitarian Situation Report No. 10 (Floods): 28 February 2023

Moving into 2023, urgent and significant humanitarian needs remain which require continued focus and support, even as reconstruction and rehabilitation begin under the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and Resilient, Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Framework (4RF).

The 2022 flood was equivalent to nearly 2.9 times the national 30-year average – and a combination of riverine, urban, and flash flooding led to a record flood in which 94 districts were declared calamity-hit. The widespread flooding and landslides resulted in major losses of human lives and damage to property and infrastructure. Around 33 million people were affected, nearly 8 million people were reportedly displaced, and as per UN Satellite Centre imagery around 4.5 million people are still exposed to or living close to flood water. As per the last NDMA situation report, 1,739 people lost their lives (of which 647 were children), 12,867 were injured (including 4,006 children) and more than 2.28 million houses were damaged (partially damaged: 1,391,467 and fully damaged: 897,014).

An estimated 20.6 million people, including 9.6 million children, need humanitarian assistance. Many of the hardest-hit districts are amongst the most vulnerable districts in Pakistan, where children already suffer from high malnutrition, poor access to water and sanitation, low school enrolment, and other deprivations. Moreover, the effects of the floods have worsened pre-existing vulnerabilities to key child-protection issues and gender-based violence (GBV). Children, particularly those living in poverty, are at a higher risk of being forced into child labour, child marriage and violence. The affected area in need of community-based psychosocial support and specialized interventions. As per the PDNA, beyond the increase in monetary poverty, estimates indicate an increase in multidimensional poverty from 37.8 per cent to 43.7 per cent, meaning that an additional 1.9 million households will be pushed into non-monetary poverty. This entails significantly increased deprivations around access to adequate health, sanitation, quality maternal health care, electricity, and loss of assets. Multidimensional poverty will increase by 13 percentage points in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), followed by 10.9 in Balochistan, and 10.2 in Sindh province.

As per the latest available reports, more than 5.4 million people do not have access to safe or potable water in flood-affected districts. An estimated 1.1 million people are at risk of sliding from acute food and livelihood crisis (IPC3) situations to humanitarian emergency (IPC4) food security situations due to insufficient support. Malaria outbreaks have been reported in at least 12 districts of Sindh and Balochistan. Over 7 million children and women need immediate access to nutrition services. An estimated 3.5 million children, especially girls, are at high risk of permanent school dropouts.


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