Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

The end of Absolute Poverty in India; A historic Accomplishment by Modi Government.

Ever since India’s Independence, the notion of poverty and the economics of povertarianism had crippled the country’s political and academic landscape. PM Modi for the first time, has freed the Indian psyche from this vicious cycle of povertarianism, through his determined policy direction and firm political resolve. This phenomenon can be understood by the discussion paper released by the NITI Aayog.

The discussion paper titled ‘Multidimensional Poverty in India since 2005-06’ has made remarkable findings. According to this paper, about 24.82 crore people have come out of multidimensional poverty in last nine years. The Paper gives credit for this historic milestone, to the significant initiatives of the government, which addressed all dimensions of the poverty between 2013-14 to 2022-23 in an effective and efficient manner. The technical inputs towards drafting this paper were provided by Oxford Policy and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is a comprehensive measure that is globally recognized and attempts to capture poverty in multiple dimensions beyond monetary aspects. MPI’s global methodology is based on a robust Alkire and Foster (AF) method. It identifies people as poor based on universally acknowledged metric which has been designed to make an assessment of acute poverty, providing a complementary perspective to conventional monetary poverty measures. The MPI seeks to measure poverty across its multiple dimensions and, in effect, complements the existing poverty statistics based on per capita consumption expenditure.

It has three equally weighted dimensions – Health, Education, and Standard of living.

These three dimensions are represented by 12 indicators such as nutrition, child and adolescent mortality, maternal health, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, assets, and bank accounts.

As per the Discussion Paper, India has registered a significant decline in multidimensional poverty in India from 29.17% in 2013-14 to 11.28% in 2022-23 i.e. a reduction of 17.89 percentage points. Uttar Pradesh has registered the largest decline in the number of poor where 5.94 crore people escaped multidimensional poverty during the last nine years followed by Bihar (3.77 crore), Madhya Pradesh (2.30 crore) and Rajasthan (1.87 crore).

The paper also indicates that there was a faster decline in the pace of poverty, in terms of headcount ratio using exponential method. As compared to the annual rate of decline of 7.69% from 2005-05 to 2015-16, poverty decreased by 10.66% between 2015-16 to 2019-21. The improvement recorded in all 12 indicators of MPI has been significant during the entire duration of the study. Projected estimates have been used to assess the poverty levels in the year 2013-14 against the current scenario (i.e. for the year 2022-23). While the performance of states varies, states, which were traditionally having high poverty, have made significant progress in helping people escape poverty. This has played a pivotal role in reducing inter-state disparities in multidimensional poverty.

An article titled ‘India Eliminates extreme poverty’ written by Surjit S. Bhalla and Karan Basin, published in the Brookings Institute,  discusses about the paper by NITI Aayog on multi-dimensional poverty and  highlights high consumption and steep decline in inequality  as the major reasons for the decline in poverty. The massive reduction in  headcount poverty ratio and  a sharp rise in household consumption has led to this turnaround. It attributes the elimination of extreme poverty to the thrust on redistribution which has led to a strong inclusive growth in India over the last decade.

Initiatives of the Modi Government that have transformed the lives of the poor.

The Modi Government, through its unfettered resolve has effectively implemented several schemes, programmes and initiatives. Various programs addressing maternal health, clean cooking fuel distribution through Ujjwala Yojana, improved electricity coverage via Saubhagya, and transformative campaigns like Swachh Bharat Mission and Jal Jeevan Mission have collectively elevated living conditions and overall well-being of people. Additionally, flagship programs like Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and PM Awas Yojana have played pivotal roles in financial inclusion and providing safe housing for the underprivileged.

A bird’s eye view of the data points, is given below;

 Health

 The extent of rapid transformations in the health sector has changed the face of healthcare in India. The Ayushman Bharat Yojana has provided a health infrastructure which was never seen before.

38 crore+ Ayushman Bharat Health Accounts (ABHA) have been created.

18 crores+ patients have received consultations/care under the AYUSH doctrine.

3.9 crore+ pregnant women have received medical care under PM Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan.

147 crore+ cumulative footfalls at over 1.5 lakh+ AB-Health and Wellness Centres.

9.55 Lakhs+ Tuberculosis patients have now been adopted by Ni-Kshay Mitras.

9,304 Janaushadi Kendras and 230+ AMRIT Pharmacies for affordable medicines.

5.65 crore+ mothers and children protected by Mission Indradhanush.

Bank Accounts

49 Crore+ Jan Dhan Accounts have been opened so far. Over 55% of the 27 crores+ Jan Dhan bank accounts belong to women.

There has been a Four-fold growth in average balance maintained from Rs.1,065 (2015) to Rs.4,092 (2023)

There is a sharp increase in digital payments; 978 crore transactions in FY 17 and 9,100 crores + in Fy 23 (till Dec 22).

Over 33crore Rupay debit cards issued to PMJDY account holders. Through PMJDY, crores of people have obtained access to banking for the first time in India’s independent history, which has been a pathbreaking development in the financial sector.

Housing

4 Crore+ houses have been sanctioned under PM Awas Yojana out of which 3 crore homes have already been completed.

Over 6.3 crore direct and indirect jobs created.

More than 130 sectors of our economy benefitted. By providing housing to crores of people, Modi government has ensured dignity of women and the marginalised people.

 Electricity:

India has achieved 100% electrification. Both the urban and rural areas now have nearly complete access to electricity.

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) was launched for the rural areas, with the objective of electrification of all un-electrified villages

Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – Saubhagya was launched for electrification of rural and urban poor households in the country. Under this scheme, more than 2.86crore household electricity connections have been allotted.

36.86 crore LED bulbs have been distributed under the UJALA scheme.

 Cooking Fuel

Over 10 crore LPG connections provided to households. LPG coverage in India has increased from 62% in 2016 (launch of scheme) to over 104% in 2022. With the success of the scheme, crores of Indian women have been liberated from the smoke-filled cooking stoves.

Drinking Water

 14 crores + tap Water Connections have been provided

8 States and UT’s now have Har Ghar Nal Se Jal (100% coverage)

Rising admissions in schools with over 8.6 lakh schools and 8.9 lakh Anganwadi Centres getting portable tap water.

. The Jal Jeevan Mission, has been envisioned to provide safe and adequate amount of drinking water through individual household tap connections in Rural India by 2024, as per the official statement.

Sanitation

 11.7 crore toilets have been constructed under Swacch Bharat Mission.

100% rural sanitation coverage.

More than 5 lakh villages now ODF (Open Defecation Free).

This scheme has resulted in the savings of Rs. 8,000 per household per year, which is eq.

75 lakh full-time jobs generated under Swachh Bharat.

Entrepreneurship

 About 43 crore Mudra loans have been sanctioned. Rs 22.5 lakh crore distributed to micro and small entrepreneurs.  Over 69% of the total, i.e., over 30.64 crores have been sanctioned to women entrepreneurs. In total, loan worth more than Rs.10.4 lakh crore has been disbursed to women. Estimated 3.6 crore jobs have been created by PMMY (Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana) entrepreneurs.

Apart from these schemes, noteworthy initiatives like Poshan Abhiyan (with over 9 crore beneficiaries) and Anemia Mukt Bharat have significantly enhanced access to healthcare facilities, leading to a substantial decrease in deprivation. Operating as one of the world’s largest food security programs, the Targeted Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act covers 81.35 crore beneficiaries, providing food grains to rural and urban populations. Recent decisions of the government, such as extending free food grain distribution under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana for another five years, exemplify Government’s commitment.

As a result of this, India is poised in a position which is most likely to achieve its SDG target of reducing 50% multidimensional poverty well before 2030. The Government’s persistent dedication and resolute commitment to enhancing the lives of the most vulnerable and deprived have been instrumental in this accomplishment.

Conclusion:

From Housing to Sanitation and from Health to Electricity, Modi Government’s holistic approach towards Multi-Dimensional Poverty has resulted in this massive reduction of poverty numbers. These numbers are not just indicative of a statistical change but reflect the transformation in the lives of millions of Indians, in the direction of Aatmanirbharta (self-reliance). PM Modi’s statement, “In the last ten years, about 25 crore people of the country have come out of poverty. This shows that the direction of our government is right, the policies are right and the decisions are right” is a testimony to this fact. Now there is an affirmation that the fundamental problems in accessing basic services has almost been resolved.Taking forward PM Modi’s message of ‘Reform, Perform and Transform’ India is looking forward to becoming a developed nation i.e. Viksit Bharat by the year 2047.

About the Author:
Viswapramod C is a Research Associate at Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. Views expressed are personal.