25% of Indians poor on MPI metric, says NITI Aayog report

Topics Poverty index | Niti Aayog | Indians

The NITI Aayog will come up with another MPI report once the NHFS gives its full report five-six months later for 2019-20, a senior NITI Aayog official said
Basing itself on the National Health Family Survey (NHFS) for 2015-16, the NITI Aayog has said in that year one in every four people in India was multidimensionally poor.

“The headcount ratio answers the question ‘how many are poor?’ India’s national MPI (multidimensional poverty index) identifies 25.01 per cent of the population as multidimensionally poor,” the report said.

NITI Aayog Chairman Rajiv Kumar said India’s national MPI measure used the globally accepted and robust methodology developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant said the index was aimed at leveraging the monitoring mechanism and methodology of the globally recognised MPI to rigorously benchmark national and sub-national performance and drive programmatic actions and reforms.

Incidentally, the MPI for 2021, launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), showed that 27.9 per cent of India's population were multidimensionally poor. The country ranked 62nd out of 109 nations on the index. This index was based on 10 indicators such as lack of improved drinking water, adequate nutrition or at least six years of schooling.

It is difficult to compare the headline numbers of the multidimensionally poor over a period since this is the first ever report on the MPI. This is also the first report on poverty after the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014 and the NITI Aayog abandoned the erstwhile poverty line method.

The NITI Aayog will come up with another MPI report once the NHFS gives its full report five-six months later for 2019-20, a senior NITI Aayog official said.

Recently the NHFS came up with only the fact sheet for 2019-20.

Earlier, the erstwhile Planning Commission used to measure the number of the poor on the basis of the poverty line. According to one such report, 21.9 per cent of the population were poor in India in 2011-12 against 29.8 per cent in 2009-10. That report was based on the Suresh Tendulkar methodology. By that, those who spent more than Rs 33 a day in urban areas and Rs 27 in rural areas were not treated as poor. This had triggered a controversy.

Ultimately, the C Rangarajan-led panel came up with another report that said the number of the poor in India was much higher in 2011-12 at 29.5 per cent.

The report took a person spending less than Rs 47 a day in cities and one spending less than Rs 32 a day in villages as poor. This poverty line approach was abandoned by the NITI Aayog, which replaced the Planning Commission on January 1, 2015.

The MPI is based on three dimensions -- health, education, and standard of living -- with each having a weighting of one-third in the index. These dimensions are further based on 12 segments -- nutrition, child and adolescent mortality, antenatal care, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, assets, and bank accounts.

As such, there were deprived people by each of these criteria even as some of them may not have been multidimensionally poor in 2015-16. The highest number of the deprived are in cooking fuel and sanitation at 58.5 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively. This means more than half the population were poor on these two counts.

Next came housing, which had 45.6 per cent of the population as deprived during 2015-16, followed by nutrition (37.6 per cent), maternal health (22.6 per cent), drinking water (14.6), assets (14), years of schooling (13.9), electricity (12.2), bank account (9.7), school attendance (6.4) and child and adolescent mortality (2.7).

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