There are 421 million who people who are living in poverty in eight north India states of Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal according to recent Oxford’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) – more than in the poorest 26 African countries combined (421M).
It doesn’t mean that India is poorer than those African nations (with many of them living in ‘extreme’ poverty) – the MPI is a bit complicated to begin with – but it does reflect the sad fact behind the world’s second most populated country.
I remember watching a heart-wrenching Chinese documentary, where some villagers from rural China are all-smile after selling their produce for RMB4000 (~USD590), the annual income for the entire village of about 100 households. Still, it’s not disastrous for a farming community where most basic needs are self sustainable, I can only imagine things being worse in some other places.
Farmers in India in particular have been facing natural disasters, over-cropping and various factors which made lives difficult for the past decade or two. And there’s also the infamous GM genocide which caused millions into debt-ridden status after using genetically-modified crops, with hundreds of thousands committing suicide after having their land taken from them because of the debts.
And poverty is always going to lead to other issues, healthcare being the utmost one. According to the World Bank, 47% children in India are fighting against malnutrition (neighbouring Bangladesh is even worse with 49%).
The overpopulation issue is always going to haunt India, and ironically the poorest communities are often the least educated about birth control. Sometimes I have to give props to China’s one-child policy, which although sounds a bit inhuman, probably does help to prevent China from rotten into similar disastrous stage.
Statistically the Indians are improving in terms of people living under the international poverty line (personally I’m sceptical of this fact which doesn’t take much of other factors into consideration besides daily income). And many reports do suggest that the poors are going to reap benefits from the economic growth if India managed to sustain (or improve) their tempo in the next 15-20 years.
For further readings, there’s also a Wiki article about poverty in India.