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Number of hungry in India has increased despite economic growth:UNDP

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, June 29 (UNI) Despite the average 6.5 per cent economic growth during the last decade, the number of hungry people in India in the second half of 1990s has increased by 18 million while investment in agriculture has been on a ''serious decline''.

A UNDP report says that in the second half of 1990s, despite economic growth, the number of hungry increased by 18 million even though between 1990 and 1995, India had made significant gains, reducing the total number of hungry people by 13 million.

'The Asia Pacific Human Development Report 2006' says that in India and Bangladesh, more than 30 per cent of the children are born under-weight. In India, the cost of combating iron deficiency alone totals more than 30 billion US Dollars.

UN Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Assistant Administrator Dr Hafiz Pasha said the benefits of economic growth in South Asia had not ''percolated down'' to the poor as agricultural growth had ''plummeted'' to two and a half per cent while industry had not grown as fast as in East Asia.

Dr Pasha, formerly Pakistan's Finance and Economic Affairs Minister and now Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific at the UNDP, said public investment in rural areas of the region had diminished while in 1990, Asia which used to be agriculture-surplus region, had become ''agriculture-deficit''.

''This raises concerns for the future,'' said Dr Pasha, presenting a dismal picture of the future of the South Asian region.

He stressed the need for countries of the region to adopt ''strategic trade and investment policies'' saying it was time for restoring public investment priorities.

''South Asia has embraced Free Trade, but it has not embraced the poor,'' Dr Pasha added.

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