Poverty reduced in India, number of poor increased: UN

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New Delhi, Sept 11 (UNI) Even though the poverty decreased in India from 52 per cent to 41 per cent between 1990 and 2005, the number of people living in extreme poverty rose by 20 million during the period, a UN report said today.

The Millennium Develolpment Goals Report 2008' pointed out that the percentage of people living below the newly redefined poverty line of 1.25 dollars per day has decreased during the period from 56 per cent to 18 per cent, but the progress was slower in South Asia which needed to accelerate the pace to achieve the MGD target.

Despite progress in reducing extreme poverty, child malnutrition which was a key indicator of hunger and poverty-remained remarkably high in many parts of Asia. South Asia has a larger proportion of underweight children than any other developing region with 46 per cent children under five severely or moderately underweight in 2006, down from 54 per cent in 1990. Child malnutrition also remained high at 25 per cent.

India was lagging behind in the rate of maternal mortality and child mortality and also required to improve in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS, providing clean drinking water and sanitation facilities to its population, the report said. Lack of adequate reproductive health facilities and slow progress in institutional delivery was responsible for high maternal and infant mortality rates in India.

There was significant progress in primary education in South Asia where it reach 90 per cent in 2006 and also enrollment of girls in schools increased. However, there were no significant improvement in the secondary education sector.

As far as gender equality was concerned, South Asia had the lowest percentage of paid jobs held by women at 19 per cent.

However, they have gained better political empowerment as the number of seats held in Parliament has doubled between 2000 and 2008 from 6.7 per cent TO 12.9 per cent. Women participation also rose at the Panchayat level.

The annual report, a yardstick for measuring the achievement of the MDGs, predicted that higher food prices may push 100 million people deeper into poverty.

Asian region also had poor environmental record with rapid increase in Carbon Dioxide emissions from 2.9 billion metric tonne in 1990 to 6.1 billion in 2005. Emission has doubled in South Asia from one to 2 billion metric tonne while East Asia had the highest emission per unit of GDP, the report said.

UNI AJ Mir BD1920

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