Those who know how India is divided between the few riches and the millions of poor, this one cannot come as a shocker, at least not for someone who makes those routine trips down the neighbouring lane or peek from a high-rise building painfully (or indifferently). According to a new poverty index of over 130 countries, despite the much-hyped economic growth and the overambitious Millennium Development Goals, India would not be able to eradicate poverty or provide minimum education for all by 2015. And this story is shared by a lot of other South Asian countries as well.
The Basic Capabilities Index (BCI) 2009 has found that South Asia will get 80 points on the index by 2015, 10 points higher than the present value of 70. India has got 68 points in the index, an increase of a meagre four points since 2004.
The global NGO Social Watch’s index says a score of 100 points defines the well being of citizens based on children getting education till the primary level, the child mortality rate and the percentage of births attended by skilled labourers. The BCI does not use income as an indicator. “The index shows that despite our (India’s) economic growth, we are still way behind on providing basic amenities to people,” said Amitabh Jha, of Social Watch-India, a conglomeration of civil society groups in India.
Working on similar well-being criteria, the Suresh Tendulkar committee in December found 38 per cent of Indians as poor. Echoing the same thought, the present index agrees that providing basic facilities to all, as committed in the millennium development goals, is still a challenge for India.
The index, however, said that South Asia, a region with the worst BCI showing in 2004, has been making fast progress, but the situation is still “extremely critical”. Since 2004, the report said, one-third of the countries failed to raise their BCI value by more than one per cent and only one out of six countries showed significant progress. “Most of the countries in the world are very far from achieving the social objectives committed to for 2015,” said Roberto Bissio, coordinator of the Social Watch secretariat.