Eight Indian States are home to 421 million multidimensionally poor people, more than the figure of 410 million in 26 poorest African countries.
The Multidimensional Poverty Index — which identifies serious simultaneous deprivations in health, education and income at the household level in 104 countries — brought out in the latest United Nations Human Development Report has calculated that South Asia is home to half of the world's multi-dimensionally poor population, or 844 million people.
The rates of multidimensional poverty are, however, relatively low in most of East Asia and the Pacific including China and Thailand. In Delhi, the rate is close to Iraq and Vietnam's (about 14 per cent), while that of Bihar is similar to Sierra Leon and Guinea's (about 81 per cent), according to the report released on Thursday. The Indian States include Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, often referred to as the BIMARU States.
The report's new Inequality-adjusted HDI, measuring the effect of inequality in 139 countries, shows South Asia with an average 33 per cent loss due to inequality in health, education and income — the second largest for a development region after sub-Saharan Africa. India loses 30 per cent overall on the Inequality-adjusted HDI, including 41 per cent in education and 31 per cent in health.
Women's inequality remains a major barrier to human development throughout Asia, the 2010 report shows. The new Gender Inequality Index — which captures gender gaps in reproductive health, empowerment and workforce participation in 138 countries — shows that six countries of East Asia and the Pacific fall in the lower half in gender inequality, with Papua New Guinea among the lowest.
Several countries in East Asia and the Pacific have little or no female representation in Parliaments, although the Philippines and Indonesia have elected women leaders in recent decades. South Asia is characterised by relatively weak female empowerment with an inequality loss of 35 per cent compared with 16 per cent in developed nations.
India ranks 122 out of the138 countries on the Global Instability Index based on 2008 data – with nine per cent of the parliamentary seats held by women, and 27 per cent of adult women having secondary or higher levels of education compared to 50 per cent among men.
The Multidimensional Poverty Index, the Inequality-adjusted Index and the Gender Inequality Index have been added as new indicators in this year's report, which runs into its 20th year. It spotlights countries that made the greatest progress in recent decades as measured by the HDI, with China, Nepal, Indonesia, Lao PDR and South Korea making it to the “Top 10 Movers” list.
Among the South Asian countries, Nepal is second among the top movers on non-income HDI, while India is among the top 10 movers in GDP growth.