India – Urban Poverty Report 2009
India’s booming economy has helped marginalise the growing number of impoverished city dwellers while lifting millions out of poverty, a government report said on Tuesday.
The proportion of India’s urban poor halved in the 30 years to 2005 but absolute numbers rose from 60 to 81 million during the period, said the report produced with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“Would bringing out an urban poverty report put some shadow on the shining and glittering performance of India?” asked Professor Amitabh Kundu, the chief coordinator of the “India Urban Poverty Report 2009,” which was released in New Delhi on February, 3, 2009.
“When you’re watching the process of development, where you stand is very important — whether you see the speed of the engine or you get overwhelmed by the smoke.”
The urban poor accounted for 25.7 percent of the country’s total urban population in 2004-5 compared with 49.01 percent in 1973-74, said the report which defines urban poor as anyone living on less than 20 rupees (29 pence) a day.
However, the rate of overall decline in poverty slowed from 0.82 percentage points per year from 1973-74 to 1983-84, to 0.61 percentage points from 1993-94 to 2004-05, the report said, revealing the flip-side of the country’s economic success.
India’s economy grew at around 9 percent in each of the past three years.
“Certain aspects of economic development and the changes associated strongly with the process of urbanisation in India have created a backwash effect for the poorer sections of the urban community,” the report said.
The “backwash” is also blamed on the decline or relocation of traditional industries such as textiles and steel.
“The urban workers are increasingly being pushed into the informal sector,” the report said.
The report said such exclusion is pushing a large number of urban workers such as street vendors and rickshaw pullers further into poverty.
Mass slum clearances have driven workers, such as those in domestic service, away from their place of work and pushed many into crime, the report said.
“When the urban poor are pushed away from the place of his/her livelihood, the result is complete loss of livelihood. As a result, many of the poor are pushed into crime.”