The Niti Aayog has fasttracked the development of India's own poverty index to rank states on measures they have adopted to pull people out of poverty. The exercise, in line with the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), is aimed at compelling states to take aggressive poverty reductions measures. It is also an outcome of growing apprehension that a large number of people may have been pushed back into poverty because of the Covid-19 outbreak. The Niti Aayog recently held an interministerial meeting under the director general of its development, monitoring and evaluation office.
- Top officials of all stakeholder ministries as well as from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) attended the meeting, where discussions were held on targets, reform action and progress by states. The plan is to get the index and first ranking out by this year's end.
- Improvement in the performance of states will result in significant improvement in India’s global ranking in the UNDP MPI.
- Some of the targets under consideration include health (child mortality, nutrition), education (years of schooling, enrolment) and living standards (water, sanitation, electricity, cooking fuel, floor, assets) besides income levels in states.
- India already has an index on some of these indicators, and tracking states’ performance across these parameters is not expected to be difficult.
- The International Labour Organisation said recently that about 400 million people working in the informal economy in India were at risk of falling deeper into poverty due to the Covid-19 induced economic crisis, which it said was having "catastrophic consequences".
- In 2014, a committee led by former RBI governor C Rangarajan had pegged the total number of India’s poor at 363 million, or 29.6% of the population. The Suresh Tendulkar committee had in 2009 estimated it at 269.8 million (21.9% of the population).
- These poverty estimates were, however, based on a poverty line defined by both the committees after taking into consideration certain fixed parameters.
- Currently, India does not officially have a poverty line and there is no fresh estimate of the total number of poor people.