India Insight

Thirty-three percent of world’s poorest live in India

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

India has 33 percent of the world’s poorest 1.2 billion people, even though the country’s poverty rate is half as high as it was three decades ago, according to a new World Bank report.

India reduced the number of its poor from 429 million in 1981 to 400 million in 2010, and the extreme poverty rate dropped from 60 percent of the population to 33 percent during the same period. Despite the good news, India accounts for a higher proportion of the world’s poor than it used to. In 1981, it was home to 22 percent of the world’s poorest people.

The World Bank report comes just days after it proposed a $12 billion to $20 billion plan to reduce poverty levels over four years in the Indian states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Sixty percent of the financing would go to state government-backed projects, according to the Hindu Business Line newspaper.

The study that came out today showed a similar decline in the number of people living in poverty in recent years. People living below $1.25 (67 rupees) a day fell considerably from more than half the people in the developing world in 1981 to 21 percent in 2010, despite a 59 percent increase in world population during the same period.

from Photographers' Blog:

Privileged witness to the start of life

By Vivek Prakash

It's an experience I will never forget. I have no children of my own, but when the day does come, maybe I'll be just a little bit more prepared for it.

I had come a long, long way from my usual cosmopolitan stomping ground of Mumbai, to a place just about as far interior as you can go in India. I was about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Rajasthan border in the state of Madhya Pradesh, in a village of about 700 people. This is very, very small by Indian standards. There were dusty roads that a car could barely fit down, mud houses, a scorching heat during the day which turned to a deep chill at night.

I had many ideas in my head and many questions too - what kind of emotions was I going to experience and witness? Should I be excited, or should I feel like an intruder, given the subject matter I was here to shoot? I had come a long way to shoot this, but now, standing in this little rural community health center with my camera, I felt conflicted.

from Photographers' Blog:

A village of eternal bachelors

By Vivek Prakash

With the world's population set to hit 7 billion on October 31, photographers in India have been on the move to tell stories that talk about what those numbers really mean in a country as large as India - with 1.2 billion people and counting, this is supposed to be the world's largest democracy.

When you take a closer look at the statistics, you find some surprising and scary figures - the ratio of female children to males born actually declined here over the last 10 years - from 933 females for every thousand males in the 2001 census, to just 914 in 2011. The combination of cheap portable ultrasound technology and a decades-old preference for male babies -- who are seen as breadwinners -- has enabled sex-selective abortions and made worse female infanticide. In a place as wide and as vast as India, these are things that are hard to control, no matter how illegal.

We had been trying to find ways to illustrate this for some time without much success - getting access to tell this story had been taking some time. Late last month, a story about a small village in Gujarat was brought to my attention.

Gridlocked in the rush to grow

Newspapers have delighted in reporting a 100km traffic jam outside Beijing could last until mid-September. Road construction is the immediate cause for the gridlock, which stretches as far as Inner Mongolia, Chinese officials have said.

Vehicles move slowly during morning rush hour in Hyderabad October 29, 2009. REUTERS/Krishnendu HalderFor Indian commuters battling a near-daily gridlock in all the big cities, this is an ominous sign of things to come.

India is adding vehicles at an unprecedented pace, with July clocking the highest car sales on record.

Right to education: a leap that falls short?

INDIAIs the government short-changing the nation on right to education?

Not all is hunky-dory with the ‘right to education’ law that has come into force.

The law puts to work a constitutional amendment of 2002 that made education a fundamental right.

Fali Nariman, the famous jurist who argued the landmark ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution case, points out that the amendment took away more from the children than it gave to them.

Bangalore: Teething troubles on path to globalisation

It has been a rather uneasy transition for Bangalore from “pensioner’s paradise” or “garden city” to the information technology capital of India.

Longtime residents often complain of immigrants from other parts of the country ruining their paradise. Such complaints have been common in Mumbai, which has witnessed waves of immigration since the 1950s, but Bangalore old-timers tend to blame the city’s problems on the “IT fellows”.

It’s fair to say the city’s infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with the growing population. Traffic jams, as everywhere in the world, are incredibly annoying and travelling in Bangalore makes one wonder what exactly inspired Thomas Friedman to sing praises of this city in “The World is Flat”.

from Global Investing:

Another nail in the Malthusian coffin?

All the talk of addressing the global imbalances throws a spotlight on contrasting demographic trends in the world's two most populous nations -- China and India.

Prior to the financial crisis, India's annual growth rate of about 9 percent seemed positively moribund next to China's double-digit economic expansion. But purely on demographics, the dimming power of the US consumer could give India an edge over its neighbour in the longer run.

That's what India's trade minister Anand Sharma seemed to suggest last week when he reminded the audience at a London conference that the country had "20 percent of the world's children":

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