India's poverty cuts slower than Nepal, Bangladesh: Study

MUMBAI (AFP) - India is lagging behind its neighbours Nepal and Bangladesh in reducing poverty, according to a study from Oxford University.

Nepal and Bangladesh were among the best performers out of 22 countries when it came to reducing their Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which reflects deprivation in health, education and living standards rather than simply income levels.

India's MPI reduced by 1.2 percentage points between 1999 and 2006, whereas Nepal saw its percentage of poor people drop by 4.1 percentage points a year between 2006 and 2011, the report found.

Bangladesh's poverty rates were down by 3.2 percentage points a year between 2004 and 2007, said the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, which carried out the analysis released on Monday.

Researchers described India's performance as "positive" but said "progress has been made at less than a third of the speed of some of its neighbours, which are significantly poorer in terms of income".

According to the World Bank, India has a gross national income per capita of US$ 1,410 (S$1, 762), against US$780 in Bangladesh and US$540 in Nepal.

The study said the share of deeply poor people in India decreased from 26.4 percent in 1999 to 19.3 percent in 2006 - the latest year for which data was available for the study.

India's MPI reduction was especially slow in the nation's poorest states and among the poorest groups such as tribes, Muslims and households headed by women.

"Nearly a fifth of the Indian population - more than 200 million people - were still deeply poor in 2006," said the report, which stressed that the success of low-income countries proved that progress was possible.

"In Nepal and Bangladesh, at least, an active, vocal, and at times disgruntled civil society has clearly played a role, as has the rise of women's voices in politics as well as civil society," said researchers.

The MPI is calculated by looking at 10 indicators at a household level such as school attendance, nutrition and sanitation. It is used in the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report.

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