India Shining: The figures tell for whom and how

India is 'budding superpower', this century belongs to India, 'India Shining', 'Incredible India', 'India poised' are no longer advertising slogans, but part of the mainstream beliefs of a section of the world. The BPO capital of the world, is no longer a country that lives from ship to mouth forced to feed its population the rejects of other countries cattle feed, laced with weeds... or is it?

Certainly some have benefited from the market led polity, while some others have lost. Our bureaucrats have done what they do best: invent new spins to put a glossy façade on the dismal reality facing up to 80% of the country. Their intelligence is used more to disingenuously to at best gloss over failures or at its more frequent worst blame the victim, and shoot the messenger.

In this series of posts, we will have a look at the figures that tell us who has benefited, who hasn't and the long distance to travel.

We will see the 'three India's'

  • ‘Global India’
  • ‘Developing India’
  • ‘Poor India’

All the figures given here are the government's own.
Unless otherwise mentioned, the figures are for 2007.

01: 86% working on less than Rs 20 a day

  • 394.9 million workers (86 per cent of the working population) belong to the unorganized sector
  • 316 million workers live on less than Rs 20, or $ 0.49, a day.
  1. 88% of the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheduled Castes
  2. 80% of the Other Backward Classes
  3. 85% of Muslims
  • 90 per cent of agricultural labour households are landless or have less than one hectare of holding
  • agriculture is getting feminized with 73% women being associated with it compared to 52% men.
  • Source: Arjun Sengupta Chairman, National Commission for Enterprises in Unorganised Sector report on the Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihood in the Unorganised Sector. based on government data 1993-94 and 2004-05.

  • 02: 836m (77%) live on less than Rs 20 a day

    • In 2004-05, a total of 836 million (77%) had below Rs. 20 a day.
    • Poverty increased by a 100 million
    • The new rich has grown by 93 million.
    • The middle class and the rich grew from 162 million to 253 million
    • The middle class grew from 15.5% to 19.3%
    • Extreme poor have also benefited (274 to 237 million) – 43 million of them to be precise. Their per capita consumption has gone up from Rs 9 to Rs 12.

    Source: Arjun Sengupta Chairman, National Commission for Enterprises in Unorganised Sector report on the Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihood in the Unorganised Sector. based on government data 1993-94 and 2004-05.

    03: 35% live on $0.20 a day

    • Almost 80% of India’s population was surviving on less than $2.15 a day (in PPP terms).
    • That is, about 800 million people were living on $0.40 a day or less.
    • Nearly 35% (350 million) were found to be living on $0.20 a day or less.

    Source: The World Bank estimates for India based on household surveys carried out in 1999-2000.

    04: India Inc: India income contrasts

    • The top 10% alone earns 33% of all income.
    • 46% of the income is accounted for by the top 20% of the people.
    • The lowest 20% accounts for only 8% of incomes.

    The billionaires

    • India's 40 billionaires are worth $351 billion
    • Its four richest –Lakshmi Mittal, Ambani, Anil Ambani, and Mr. Kushal Pal Singh – hold more than half that.
    • India's four wealthiest men are now worth more than China's 40 wealthiest combined.
    • The total wealth of the top 2 Indian billionaires ($52.1 billion), almost double that of all 20 Chinese billionaires together.
    • The concentration and wealth of the Indian billionaires ($191 billion dollars) far exceeds the wealth of their Chinese counterparts ($28.9 billion dollars).
    • The wealth of 35 billionaire families exceeds that of 800 million poor peasants, landless rural workers and urban slum dwellers.
    • Only 3 million Indians – from a working-age population of 321 million – hold stocks. A further 3.5 million hold stocks through mutual funds.

    We have more millionaires than many 'rich' countries!

    1. United States - 415
    2. Germany - 55
    3. Russia - 53
    4. India - 40
    5. Britain - 29
    6. Turkey - 25
    7. Japan - 24
    8. Canada - 23
    9. Taiwan - 21
    10. China, Brazil, Spain – 20 each

    Source: Forbes, 2007.

    and in 2008

    • For the first time ever, the number of worlds billionaires crossed into four figures, reaching 1,125.
    • The total net worth of the group is $4.4 trillion, up $900 billion from last year.

    At number 4, the ranking remains the same for India

    1. USA, 469
    2. Russia, 87
    3. Germany, 59
    4. India, 53

    Though there are a few surprises in the details!

    • 4 of the top 8 are from India!
    • India had only 4 billionaires in 2004, 40 in 2007 and 53 in 2008.

    ... a rather rapid rise.
    Source: Forbes, 2008.

    05: The seekers and the consumers…

    Deprived/Destitute: They earn less than 90,000 Indian rupees a year ($1,969 per household, or about a dollar per person per day) estimated to be 210 million (23.3%)
    Aspirers: households earning between 90,000 and 200,000 rupees ($1,969-$4,376) per year. 275 million people (30.5 %)
    Seekers: earning between 200,000 and 500,000 rupees ($4,376- $10,941) 275 million people (30.5 %)
    Strivers: with incomes of between 500,000 and 1 million rupees ($10,941-$21,882) 150 million people (16.66%,)
    (below the poverty line in the United States, but at ppp the income of the seekers and strivers is $23,000 to $118,000)
    Global Indians, earning more than 1 million rupees ($21,882, or $118,000, taking into account the cost of living) about 6 million (0.066 %).

    SourceThe Indian National Council of Applied Economic Research

    07: Feeding us, but killing themselves…

    The Maharashtra government carried out a door-to-door survey of farmer households in the six districts of Vidarbha ( Amravati, Akola, Yavatmal, Washim, Buldhana and Wardha) that have seen the highest number of farmer suicides. Seventeen lakh households were covered, in 8,351 villages.

    • 75% of households in the six districts were distressed.
    • Over one-fourth of the 17 lakh families were under “maximum distress”.
    • More than three-quarters of the rest were under “medium distress”;
    • One-fifth were shown not to have any distress.

    Major sources of the distress

    • Debt (over half the households)
    • crop losses or failure, (70%)
    • expenses for a daughter’s marriage, (>3lakh families)
    • the rising cost of healthcare.

    The state government’s website puts the number of farm suicides at 2,400 in these six districts, between 2001 and 2006. It shows that this year has been by far the worst. By November, the number had reached 1,215.
    The report admits that in spite of the prime minister’s and chief minister’s relief packages, the number of suicides in the six districts “continues to be in the range of 100 per month”.

    Source: Government of Maharashtra, 2007

    08: Rural sanitation

    Only one in five rural households has a toilet (rural development ministry)

    1. Chhattisgarh 94.9% of households without a toilet.
    2. Jharkhand (93.5%)
    3. Madhya Pradesh (91.1%)
    4. Bihar (86.1%)
    5. Uttar Pradesh (80.8%)
    6. National average 78.1%

    09: Infant mortality rates in India: UNICEF 2007

    • Of the estimated 9.7 million children in the world dying before completing five years of age, 2.1 million, or 21%, are in India
    • 50% of child morality is due to neo-natal reasons, as opposed to 37% across the world.

    The other causes are

    • pneumonia (19%),
    • diarrhoea (17%),
    • malaria (8%),
    • measles and injuries (4% and 3% respectively),
    • AIDS (3%) and
    • other causes (10%).

    Other findings of the report are:

    • 9.4 million children in India are not immunised.
    • 8.3 million children weigh less than 2,500 gm at birth.
    • One-third of all underweight children in the world are in India.

    States with high rates of underweight children are

    1. Madhya Pradesh,
    2. Jharkhand,
    3. Bihar,
    4. Gujarat,
    5. Orissa,
    6. Chhattisgarh,
    7. Uttar Pradesh and
    8. Meghalaya.
    • Children in rural India live in unsanitary surroundings, with 700 million people without access to improved sanitation facilities.
    • The maternal mortality rate is 450 per 100,000 live births, according to the report, although domestic sources put it at 301.

    10: Neonatal deaths

    • More than 2.1 million children die every year in India before attaining the age of five, and half of them do not survive beyond 28 days
    • The under-5 mortality rate is 76 per 1,000 births.
    • With one child dying every three seconds, India registers the highest number of child deaths across the globe, which stands at 9.7 million worldwide with 4 million being neonatal deaths.

    Other findings of the report include:

    • Of the 19 million infants in the developing world who have low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams), 8.3 million are in India.
    • About 55 million or one-third of the world’s underweight children under the age of five live in India.
    • The worst affected states are Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Meghalaya.
    • 61 million stunted children, which is 51% of all Indian children under the age of five years, and 34% of all stunted children worldwide’. (Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Undernutrition)
      • SourceThe State of the World’s Children 2008

    11: Nutritional status of children

    National Family Health Survey (NHFS-3) showed that there has not been much improvement in the nutritional status of children, within the last eight years.

    • During NFHS-2 (1998-1999), 47% of children under three were found to be underweight
    • 46% of children under three years of age being underweight, according to NFHS-3 (2005-2006).
    • This means every second child under six years of age in India is underweight, a statistic worse than that in sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Infant mortality is still high at 57 per 1,000 births (previous 68 per 1,000 births)
    • Full vaccination coverage: 44% of 12 to 23-month-old children receiving all the recommended vaccinations (previous 42%).
    • Only 58% of children with diarrhoea were taken to a health facility.
    • 19.1% of infants are wasting (have low weight for their height), (from 20%)
    • 38.4% of all children under three years of age have stunted growth, a sign of prolonged under-nourishment.
    • 45.9% of Indian children under three are underweight.
    • Nearly 80% of infants now have anaemia, (up from 74%)

    12: sex ratio: declining in 80% of the districts

    • India faces a declining girl/boy ratio in 80% of its districts.
    • The all-India sex ratio is 927 girls for 1,000 boys, which puts the country right at the bottom of the global charts, worse off than countries like Nigeria (965) and neighbour Pakistan (958).
    • Only three states -- Kerala, Pondicherry and Lakshadweep -- show an improvement in sex ratio.
    • Punjab is the worst offender (875 in 1991, to 798 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2001), followed by Haryana and then Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.

    SourceState of the World’s Children 2006

    13: The more vulnerable

    • 1 in 12 households in India has a disabled member
    • There has been a 5% drop in the employment rate of physically-challenged individuals in the decade leading up to 2002.
    • Employment of people with disability among large private firms was only 0.3% of the workforce, and among MNCs, only 0.05%.
    • The fall in the employment rate of working age disabled people from 42.7% in 1991 to 37.6% in 2002 was almost universal across the country and also across all education levels.
    • 8% of its 1.1 billion citizens disabled (‘People with Disabilities in India: From Commitments to Outcomes’, World Bank).

    14: Schooling

    • The Gross Dropout Rate (GDR) between general category candidates and SC/ST candidates, which was 6.7% and 15.1% in 2001-02, deteriorated to 10.4% and 16.6% in 2003-04 respectively.” (CAG)
    • 3% of child labourers in India have been to school (planning commission 2006)
    • More than 32,000 schools in India, mostly primary schools in rural areas,
    1. do not have a single student
    2. no teachers
    3. only para-teachers.
    4. Seasonal migration of communities in search of a livelihood
  • Karnataka had the most schools with zero enrolment (7,945).
  • 23,000 schools had no teacher
  • 1.3 lakh had just one teacher.
  • 102,227 elementary schools (9.54%) had just one classroom.
  • Source‘Elementary Education in India 2005-06’, prepared by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), covered 11,24,033 schools in 35 states and union territories.

    15: Domestic Violence or how we love our women

    • Half of all women lack proper care during pregnancy and delivery
    • Sixty-two per cent of women with two daughters and no sons say they want no more children, compared with 47% in the last NFHS in 1998-99.
    • The number of women married before the legal age of 18 is 45%, (previous 50%).
    • 40% of ever-married women experienced violence (from 6% in Himachal Pradesh to 59% in Bihar).
    • Married women with no education were much more likely (46%) to have suffered spousal violence.
    • 12% of women who have 12 or more years of higher education reported violence.
    • Nearly 55% of women think that spousal abuse is warranted under several circumstances.
    • Source: the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-III) 2005-06

    16: Manunkind: Medical care for women

    • More than three-quarters of pregnant women in India received at least some antenatal care (ANC),
    • but only half the women had at least three ANC visits with a health provider during their pregnancy.
    • 74% of urban women having ANC at least three times, compared with 43% of rural women.
    • Overall, births assisted by a health professional increased to 49% from 42%; however, only 39% of rural women received assistance.
    • Most women still deliver their children at home, with 41% using hospitals.
    • Only about one-third of women received post-natal care within two days of delivery.
    • More than half of all women are anaemic.

    Source: The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-III) 2005-06

    17: Millennium Development Goals off track in South Asia: World Bank Report

    South Asia will fall short on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), says the World Bank-IMF Global Monitoring Report. Though much of the world, including South Asia, is set to cut extreme poverty in half by the due date of 2015, prospects are gravest for the goals of reducing child and maternal mortality, with serious shortfalls also likely in primary school completion, nutrition, and sanitation goals.

    Access the report

    The report stresses the link between environment and development and calls for urgent action on climate change. Arguably, few regions in the world are more at risk from climate change in terms of adverse impact on the poor than South Asia and the region faces a large potential health risk from climate change through increased malnutrition, diarrhea, and malaria.

    Read more

    Key findings:
    - South Asia is expected to contribute the most to global poverty reduction in the next decade
    - South Asia is likely to fall seriously short in some areas, including primary education, gender parity in tertiary education, and child mortality goals
    - South Asia has the world’s highest incid ence of child malnutrition and the child malnutrition rate in India is double the African average.

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    World Bank Finds More People Live in Steep Poverty

    World Bank Finds More People Live in Steep Poverty

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The World Bank said Tuesday that more people were living in extreme poverty in developing countries than previously thought as it adjusted the recognized yardstick for measuring global poverty to $1.25 a day from $1.

    The bank said there were 1.4 billion people — a quarter of the developing world — living in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day in 2005 in the world's developing countries. Last year, the bank said there were 1 billion people living under $1 a day.

    The 2005 figures, the latest available, are likely to put fresh pressure on big donor countries to move more aggressively to combat global poverty.

    Even so, the new estimates, based on updated global price data, show how progress has been made in helping the poor over the past 25 years. In 1981, 1.9 billion people were living below the $1.25 a day poverty line. The data are based on 675 household surveys in 116 countries.

    "These new estimates are a major advance in poverty measurements because they are based on far better price data for assuring that the poverty lines are comparable across countries," said Martin Ravallion, director of the World Bank's Development Research Group.

    While the developing world has more poor people than previously believed, the World Bank's new chief economist, Justin Lin, said the world was still on target to meet a United Nations goal of halving the number of people in poverty by 2015.

    However, excluding China from overall calculations, the world fails to meet the United Nations poverty targets, Mr. Lin said.

    The World Bank data show that the portion of people living below the $1.25 a day poverty line fell over nearly 25 years to 26 percent in 2005 from 52 percent in 1981, a decline on average of about one percentage point a year, he said.

    Mr. Lin said the new data meant that rich donor nations needed to keep their promises of stepped-up aid to poor countries. "The sobering news that poverty is more pervasive than we thought means we must redouble our efforts, especially in sub-Saharan Africa," Mr. Lin said.

    The new figures come ahead of an updated assessment of progress in meeting the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, which will be released next month at a meeting of the General Assembly.

    While most of the developing world has managed to reduce poverty, the rate in sub-Saharan Africa, the world's poorest region, has not changed in nearly 25 years, according to data using the new $1.25 a day poverty line. Half of the people in sub-Saharan Africa were living below the poverty line in 2005, the same as in 1981. That means about 380 million people lived under the poverty line in 2005, compared with 200 million in 1981.

    Elsewhere, poverty has declined. In East Asia, which includes China, the poverty rate fell to 18 percent in 2005 from almost 80 percent in 1981, when it was the poorest region. In China, the number of people in poverty fell to 207 million in 2005 from 835 million in 1981.

    In India, the number of people below the $1.25 a day poverty line increased to 455 million in 2005 from 420 million people in 1981. But the share of the population in poverty fell to 42 percent from 60 percent.

    World Bank: Two and a half billion people live on less than $2 a day

    World Bank: Two and a half billion people live on less than $2 a day
    By David Walsh
    2 September 2008

    Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author

    The World Bank reported Tuesday that in 2005 an estimated 1.4 billion
    people in the so-called ‘developing world,’ one-fourth of its
    population, lived on less than $1.25 a day, the new official poverty
    line. This figure is 400 million more than the Bank’s 2004 estimate of
    985 million. Another 1.2 billion people live on between $1.25 and $2 a day.

    The report issues from an institution correctly identified by great
    numbers of people around the world as a reactionary pillar of the global
    financial system. Despite efforts by Bank officials to put the best face
    on things, that more than two and a half billion people continue to live
    in unspeakable poverty in the first decade of the 21st century is an
    indictment of the capitalist system.

    Martin Ravallion and Shaohua Chen, of the World Bank’s Development
    Research Group, in a study entitled, “The Developing World is Poorer
    than We Thought, But No Less Successful in the Fight Against Poverty,”
    note that in 2004, for the first time, the Bank’s global poverty count
    had fallen below one billion.

    They continue: “Alas the revised estimates reported in the present paper
    suggest that our celebrations in finally getting under the one billion
    mark for the ‘$1 a day’ poverty count were premature. ... We find that
    the incidence of poverty in the world is higher than past estimates have

    The 2005 estimates are based on surveys conducted in 116 countries and
    interviews with some 1.23 million households.

    The most dire conditions exist in Sub-Saharan Africa. After a
    quarter-century (1981-2005) that witnessed the most extraordinary
    advances in technology, the percentage of people living in absolute
    poverty in that region remained unchanged; some 50 percent of its
    population subsists on $1.25 a day or less.

    The actual number of the extremely poor in Sub-Saharan Africa almost
    doubled, from 200 million in 1981 to about 380 million in 2005. “If the
    trend continues,” notes a World Bank press release, “a third of the
    world’s poor will live in Africa by 2015. Average consumption among poor
    people in Sub-Saharan Africa stood at a meager 70 cents a day in 2005.”

    Most of the 15 poorest countries in the world—Malawi, Mali, Ethiopia,
    Sierra Leone, Niger, Uganda, Gambia, Rwanda, Guinea-Bissau, Tanzania,
    Tajikistan, Mozambique, Chad, Nepal and Ghana—are located in Africa.

    In South Asia, the percentage of those living below the $1.25 poverty
    rate has decreased from 60 to 40 percent over 1981-2005, but the
    absolute number of desperately poor people did not decline; there are
    some 600 million in that category. In India, extremely uneven economic
    development reduced the poverty rate as a share of the total population
    from 60 percent in 1981 to 42 percent in 2005, but the number of the
    destitute increased from 420 million in 1981 to 455 million in 2005.

    The largest factor in lowering the percentage of extremely poor people
    in East Asia has been the explosive industrialization of China. In 1981
    East Asia was the poorest region in the world. In China the number of
    people surviving on less than $1.25 a day in 2005 prices dropped from
    835 million in 1981 to 207 million in 2005. A quarter of a century ago,
    the report states, “China’s incidence of poverty (measured by the
    percentage below $1.25 per day) was roughly twice that for the rest of
    the developing world; by the mid-1990s, the Chinese poverty rate had
    fallen well below average.”

    In the former colonial world, outside of China, the progress has been
    far more limited; the total number of extremely poor people has remained
    at about 1.2 billion. The percentage of the ‘developing world’
    population living in absolute poverty has decreased from 40 percent in
    1981 to 29 percent in 2005, according to the Bank. Excluding China,
    however, the most oppressed countries are not on track to reach the
    Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the 1990 poverty rate by 2015.

    In Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), the former Stalinist-ruled
    countries, the picture is bleak. “The mean consumption of EECA’s poor
    has actually fallen since the 1990s, even though the overall poverty
    rate was falling.” In passing, the authors note that social inequality
    has grown in that region since the collapse of Stalinism: “The paucity
    of survey data for EECA in the 1980s should also be recalled. Thus our
    estimates are heavily based on extrapolations, which do not allow for
    any changes in distribution. One would expect that distribution was
    better from the point of view of the poor in EECA in the 1980s, in which
    case poverty would have been even lower than we estimate—and the
    increase over time even larger.”

    The poverty rate in Latin America and the Caribbean has also declined,
    but not enough to bring down the number of extremely poor people.

    Ravallion and Chen point to two phenomena that tend to undercut even the
    limited progress they cite.

    First, although hundreds of millions of people have lifted themselves
    out of absolute poverty since 1981, the improvement has been very slight
    for vast numbers. While the increase in wealth at the other pole of
    global society, registered in the number of billionaires and the share
    of national incomes held by the top one or five percent of the
    population, has been explosive, the very poor have only inched ahead and
    remain immensely vulnerable.

    The study’s authors point to the phenomenon of “bunching up” that has
    occurred between $1.25 and $2.00 a day. They observe that the number of
    people living at that level “has actually risen sharply over these 25
    years, from about 600 million to 1.2 billion. This marked ‘bunching up’
    of people just above the $1.25 line suggests that the poverty rate
    according to that line could rise sharply with aggregate economic

    Speaking of the same phenomenon in relation to both East and South Asia,
    they note that a total of some 900 million people live on between $1.25
    and $2.00 a day, “roughly equally split between the two sides of Asia.
    While this points again to the vulnerability of the poor, by the same
    token it also suggests that substantial further impacts on poverty can
    be expected from economic growth, provided that it does not come with
    substantially higher inequality.”

    In a press release, the World Bank notes that its estimates “suggest
    less progress in getting over the $2 per day hurdle. Indeed, we have
    seen no change in the number of people living below $2 per day at around
    2.5 billion, between 1981 and 2005.”

    In another press release, the Bank is also careful to point out that the
    new estimates “do not yet reflect the potentially large adverse effects
    on poor people of rising food and fuel prices since 2005.”

    Or, as Ravallion and Chen write in their conclusion, “There are a great
    many people who have reached the frugal $1.25 standard, but are still
    very poor, and clearly vulnerable to downside shocks. One such shock is
    the steep rise in international food and fuel prices since 2005. Despite
    the progress in reducing the lags in survey data availability, it will
    probably not be until 2010 that we can make a reasonably confident
    assessment of the ex post impacts of the rising food and fuel prices on
    the world’s poor. Until then, ex ante assessments will be required,
    based on pre-crisis data and economic assumptions. Such assessments
    suggest that at least a few years of the progress reported here have
    been eroded since 2005.”

    World Bank:: One-third of world's poor in India

    NEW DELHI: India is home to roughly one-third of all poor people in the world. It also has a higher proportion of its population living on less than $2 per day than even sub-Saharan Africa.

    That is the sobering news coming out of the World Bank's latest estimates on global poverty. The fine print of the estimates also shows that the rate of decline of poverty in India was faster between 1981 and 1990 than between 1990 and 2005. This is likely to give fresh ammunition to those who maintain that economic reforms, which started in 1991, have failed to reduce poverty at a faster rate.

    India, according to the new estimates, had 456 million people or about 42% of the population living below the new international poverty line of $1.25 per day. The number of Indian poor also constitute 33% of the global poor, which is pegged at 1.4 billion people.

    India also had 828 million people, or 75.6% of the population living below $2 a day. Sub-Saharan Africa, considered the world's poorest region, is better — it has 72.2% of its population (551m) people below the $2 a day level.

    The estimates are based on recently recalculated purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates, which makes comparisons across countries possible. The dollar exchange rates being referred to here, therefore, are not the ones used in normal exchange rates.

    While the full report has not yet been released, a briefing note sent by the Bank had some of the data and showed that the poverty rate — those below $1.25 per day — for India had come down from 59.8% in 1981 to 51.3% by 1990 or 8.5 percentage points over nine years. Between 1990 and 2005, it declined to 41.6%, a drop of 9.7 percentage points over 15 years, clearly a much slower rate of decline.

    An FAQ on the new estimates, also provided by the Bank, however states, "India has maintained even progress against poverty since the 1980s, with the poverty rate declining at a little under one percentage point per year."

    The new international poverty line of $1.25 PPP per day has been arrived at as "the average poverty line found in the poorest 10-20 countries", according to the briefing note. In other words, more than four out of 10 Indians lives below what the world's poorest countries consider the poverty line.

    The new estimates are sobering not just for India but for the developing world as a whole, as they reveal higher levels of poverty than earlier estimated.

    East Asia, in fact, is the region that has recorded the sharpest reductions in poverty from about 79% of the population in 1981 to 18% in 2005. In contrast, Eastern Europe and Central Asia has seen poverty rates go up from 1.6% to 5%. What is noticeable in this region is the decline in poverty till 1987, when it was down to just 1% of the population, and the sharp rise subsequently.

    The Bank also makes the point that while raising people above the poverty line is a relatively achievable task — it believes poverty levels in 1990 can be halved by 2015 — it is proving very difficult to raise them above the $2 per day mark. The number of those in the developing world below this level has in fact gone up marginally from 2.5 billion to 2.6 billion since 1981.,flstry-1.cms