The NITI Aayog has released a report on the National Multidimensional Poverty Index 2023. India has made significant efforts in reducing multidimensional poverty. According to the report, the share of the population classified as multidimensionally poor declined by almost 10 percent between 2015-16 and 2019-21. The National MPI is a major indicator for achieving Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address the economic, environmental, and social aspects of societal well-being and are focused on the core principle of “leaving no one behind.” Thus, identifying and empowering such vulnerable sections of the population becomes essential for effective poverty reduction.
SDG 1 aims to eradicate poverty in all forms and dimensions – using measures that include and go beyond income. SDG target 1.2 aims to reduce by 2030 “at least by half, the proportion of men, women, and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions”.
In this context, a national Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for India enables the estimation of multidimensional poverty at the national, state, and district levels. The district-wise estimation of the national MPI can be used for reaching out to the furthest behind first, through targeted interventions.
Historically, poverty estimates have been made primarily by focusing on one-dimensional measures – often based on income. However, there has been criticism that monetary and consumption-based measures of poverty do not consider the impact of the lack of other non-monetary factors on living standards. It is recognized that poverty has multiple dimensions that affect an individual’s experience and quality of life. Quality of life aspects, such as access to basic services such as water and sanitation, which may not be directly related to household income, are an important part of measuring poverty. Multidimensional poverty includes various deprivations that poor people experience in daily life – such as poor health, lack of education, etc. NITI Aayog released the first edition of the National Multidimensional Poverty Index for India in 2021.
A national MPI statistic for a country is tailored to the national priorities and therefore, countries choose their own set of dimensions, indicators, weights, and cut-offs, according to their plans and contexts. The report presents an in-depth analysis of the headcount ratio and intensity of multidimensional poverty at the national, State/UT, and district levels.
“A total of 415 million people in India came out of poverty within a span of just 15 years from 2005/2006 to 2019/ 2021 according to the global Multidimensional Poverty Index released by the United Nations. Whereas China lifted 69 million out of poverty between 2010-2014, and Indonesia 8 million between 2012-2017.”
Major Highlights of the Report:
As per NITI Aayog’s Report ‘National Multidimensional Poverty Index: A Progress Review 2023, a record 13.5 crore people moved out of multidimensional poverty between 2015-16 and 2019-21.
Overall, all 12 indicators of MPI saw improvement. In 2015-16, one in four Indians (24.85%) met the criteria for multidimensional poverty. By 2019-21, this percentage decreased to 14.96% or one in seven.
Rural areas saw a faster reduction in their MPI value, compared to urban areas. The incidence of poverty fell from 32.59% to 19.28% in rural areas compared to a decline from 8.65% to 5.27% in urban areas between 2015-16 and 2019-21. Uttar Pradesh has registered the largest decline in the number of poor with 3.43 crore people escaping multidimensional poverty. The number of states with less than 10% of people living in multidimensional poverty doubled in the five years between 2016 and 2021.
In 2015-16 (NFHS-4), only seven states had less than 10% of their population living in multidimensional poverty — Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Kerala. In 2019-21 (NFHS-5), the list had doubled to include 14 states, with the seven new additions being Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, and Uttarakhand.
Only Bihar state in India has more than one-third of its population living in multidimensional poverty. Even Bihar has also made remarkable improvements. As compared to 2015-16 where over 51.89 % of Bihar’s population lived in multidimensional poverty, in 2019-21, the figure had dropped to 33.76 %.
Providing multidimensional poverty estimates for the 36 States and Union Territories and 707 Administrative Districts, the Report states that the fastest reduction in the proportion of multidimensional poor was observed in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Rajasthan.
Between 2015-16 and 2019-21, the MPI value has nearly halved from 0.117 to 0.066 and the intensity of poverty has reduced from 47% to 44%, thereby setting India on the path of achieving the SDG Target 1.2 (of reducing multidimensional poverty by at least half) much ahead of the stipulated timeline of 2030. It demonstrates the Government’s strategic focus on ensuring sustainable and equitable development and eradicating poverty by 2030, thereby adhering to its commitment towards the SDGs.
The MLAs and MLCs can work together to address multidimensional poverty in their states in following ways:
Policy Development and Legislation: MLAs and MLCs can introduce and support laws which address specific dimensions of poverty, such as healthcare, education, housing, and employment. Advocate for policies that target the most vulnerable populations.
Budget Allocation: Allocating funds strategically for initiatives which directly impact poverty reduction, such as healthcare, education, and social welfare programs in their constituencies.
Monitoring and Evaluation: MLAs and MLCs can establish constituency-level task forces or committees to monitor and evaluate the impact of poverty reduction programs.
Education: MLAs and MLCs can promote initiatives that improve access to quality education in their constituencies, including building schools, providing scholarships, and improving teacher training.
Healthcare: Investing in healthcare infrastructure, expanding health insurance coverage, and ensuring healthcare services which are affordable and accessible to all.
The Government’s dedicated focus on improving access to sanitation, nutrition, cooking fuel, financial inclusion, drinking water, and electricity has led to significant advancements in these areas. However, state-level efforts are also required for poverty reduction at the state and district levels.