INDIA’S OWN ‘NATIONAL MULTIDIMENSIONAL POVERTY INDEX’ – UNDERSTANDING AND MAKING SENSE

National Multidimensional Poverty Index (NMPI) baseline report defines ‘Poverty’ as the deprivation in crucial and basic parameters of health, education and living standards. Multidimensional Poverty Index is a measure to record and understand poverty on the basis of daily deprivations in three key dimensions – health, education, and standard of living (1/3rd weightage given to each indicator). These three dimensions are represented by 12 indicators such as nutrition, school attendance, years of schooling, drinking water, sanitation, housing, bank accounts among others, such that,
The indicator ‘Health’ is divided into 1/6th for ‘Nutrition’, 1/12th for ‘Child and Adolescent Mortality’ etc.
The indicator ‘Education’ is divided into 1/6th for ‘Years of Schooling’, 1/6th for ‘School Attendance’ etc.
The indicator ‘Standard of Living’ is divided into 1/21th for ‘Cooking Fuel’, 1/21th for ‘Sanitation’, 1/21th for ‘Drinking Water’, 1/21th for ‘Assets’, 1/21th for ‘Bank Account’ etc.

          The report was based on the National Family Health Survey 4 (NFHS-4) and developed by the NITI Aayog in consultation with 12 ministries and in partnership with the State governments and the index publishing agencies, namely, Oxford University’s Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

          It is the first such exercise carried out by India because the global parameters or global scaling can be a bit vague and we should have a scientific index backed by on-ground evidence.

KEY POINTS OF THE INDEX:

— Here, scoring above 33% (i.e. 33% of the population of the country is poor) means the country has failed. So, it is exactly the opposite, the lesser the score the better.
— Overall, the national average is 25.01% (i.e. 25% of the population of our country is poor).
— The traditionally ‘BIMARU’ States i.e., Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh have as usual not performed well, and Kerala, Puducherry, Sikkim have topped the performance, with Kerala – 0.7% and Bihar – 51.9% (percentage of the people who are poor).
— Urban poverty is 8% and Rural Poverty is 32%.

SOME OBSERVATIONS:

— There are regional imbalances.
— Rural areas are traditionally poor. Hence, we require scientific urbanisation of rural areas by not glorifying their poor status, but by empowering them.
— The States whose population is huge, such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, have performed very badly. Hence representation in Lok Sabha, seats, do not indicate improvement, it is just the opposite.

— Haryana should have performed better in terms of ‘Nutrition’ since we have large agricultural fields there and people are also engaged in dairy, cattle rearing, etc. but has performed very poorly.

— Uttarakhand has performed better after parting away from Uttar Pradesh.
— The southern states such as Kerala, even Union Territories like Puducherry, Lakshadweep have performed very well, but these States lack representation in Lok Sabha, to be able to create an environment in Lok Sabha in which debates about socio-economic issues can be carried out in a much scientific manner. The Southern States are in a way punished for performing well.
— In short, poor determines who rules our country

WAY AHEAD FOR INDIA:

— The agriculture sector needs reforms to help the small and marginal farm labourers to help the rural poor to not just sustain their own families, but also to invest in other indicators. That does not mean drastic urbanization of rural areas, suddenly giving up on agriculture or selling farmlands, building skyscrapers and moving to other sectors, that means building ‘Smart Villages’ and incentivizing agriculture..

— It’s high time that India does away with representation in Lok Sabha through MPs and MLAs, only based on population. — Performance of the States/UTs in the newly designed ‘National Multidimensional Poverty Index’ should be a determining factor regarding who debates in the Parliament, what kind of debates take place, quality of the debate, etc.
— It’s a wake-up call for the people of the country about who they vote for.

— BY YOGITA KADU

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