India, the largest democracy of 1.25 billion people, is also the biggest center of poverty in the world – it is both widespread and intense. Today India has officially 363 Million(or 29.5 percent) people under the poverty line, as against 407 million in 2004-05. This is latest claim of India’s Planning Commission in June 2014 after the latest Rangarajan Expert Group gave its report. Before its report, poverty was 22%. A brilliant game of counting the poor! It sure is a sick joke people of India are quite used to.
Good news is that the Planning Commission died in 2014 – Modi killed it!! He replaced it with the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI); its structure and role will evolve in the coming months. Demise of outdated Planning Commission is a good news for all who want a real bottom-to-top flow of ideas. The Planning Commission was rightly a gathering of ‘Bunch of Jokers’ in the eyes of late Rajiv Gandhi. It was a club of well connected bureaucrats who lived in isolation and enjoyed lavishly on public money. In 2011-12, its staff of 1160, ate away Rs 84 lakhs in “Chai-Nashta”!! Its elite bosses wasted Rs 34 lakhs in renovation of 2 toilets in 2012!! None of its privileged member would have known that over 60% Indians have no toilet.
The comprehensive Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of UK based Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) gives a better insight into the extent and nature of poverty. The MPI puts Indian poverty at about 53% (650 million poor).
While no one believes the official poverty data of the Indian government, it is fair to say that about 400 – 600 million people live in poverty. While there can never be agreement on poverty numbers, compare these numbers with the European Union and US populations of over 500 million and 320 million, respectively. These are huge numbers, by any standard.
India holds the distinction of having the most number of poor of the world – a super poor nation! Consequently, South Asia has become the world’s biggest center of extreme poverty. On the World Bank’s extreme poverty line of 1.25 dollars a day, there are roughly 500 million extreme poor in South Asia – most of it in India. The only other comparable pocket of poverty is the sub Saharan Africa, with 400 million people in extreme poverty.
Yet, India has about 100 and sub Sahara Africa 16 billionaires !!
7a) EVER WONDERED WHY INDIA BECAME SO POOR
“A significant fact which stands out is that those parts of India which have been longest under British rule are the poorest today.” – Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India
The colonial British rule laid the foundation for a long term and chronic poverty in India after they departed – this is what Nehru is essentially saying above. The tiny state of Kerala in the southern India fortunately saw the least damaging influence of the British plunderers (there are many reasons for that) and is at present a unique model (in the world) of improvement in the quality of life through social and human development alone.
It was the traditional historic prosperity of India that attracted invaders from various parts of the world in the last 2000 years. Prior to the British, India had been ruled by the foreigners like the Kushanas, Turko-Afghans and Mughals. All of them gradually got assimilated into the Indian society and culture. They not only became absorbed in India but also protected and promoted Indian society, culture and economy. None of them systematically drained India’s wealth or resources to make another country prosperous.
But the British were different; they solely came to loot and plunder to make Britain prosper. The foundation of prosperity of all colonial powers of the past rests squarely on colonial plunder and/or slavery. The image shows how wretched and deceptive their tactics were. They not only took away natural resources but also destroyed social and cultural fabric of India, in the most organized manner.