Here's why one in seven Indians continues to be bracketed as ‘multidimensionally poor’

According to a research by the government think tank Niti Aayog, India has seen a decrease in the proportion of “multidimensionally poor” people, who went from 24.85% in 2015–16 to 14.96% in 2019–21.By virtue of advancements in indicators like access to cooking fuel, sanitization, drinking water, and bank accounts, among others, about 13.5 crore Indians were able to overcome poverty during the course of the five-year period.The “National Multidimensional Poverty Index: A Progress Review 2023” report, however, revealed that there has been only a slight improvement in indicators like nutrition and access to education, which were the main factors in keeping one in seven Indians multidimensionally poor.Rural areas saw the fastest reduction in poverty, from 32.59 to 19.28 percent, despite the fact that there is still a significant gap between the number of people living in poverty in rural and urban areas. This was due to advances in states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Rajasthan.The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) study from Niti Aayog is currently in its second edition. In order to determine multidimensional poverty, it takes into account overlapping deprivations in health, education, and living standards as well as other, more qualitative aspects of existence, such as child mortality, housing conditions, and other essential services like water and sanitation. The National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) served as the main data source for these resultsNiti Aayog adds specific dimensions to each of the three main indicators of health, education, and living standards, such as nutrition and child and adolescent mortality under the health category, years of schooling under the education category, and access to cooking fuel, electricity, bank accounts, etc. under the quality of life category. The ‘deprivation score’ is determined by allocating a numerical value to each of these particular characteristics.A person is only deemed multidimensionally poor if their deprivation score is greater than 0.33, which is calculated as the total of all their weighted indicators.
Even though the number of people who are multidimensionally poor has significantly decreased, it is important to note that one in seven Indians still falls into this category. This is largely because the three main indicators of poverty—standard of living, health, and education—do not equally reflect poverty reduction.The report revealed that three sub-indicators within the health category—nutrition, child and adolescent mortality, and maternal health—showed only modest improvement.Deprivation in maternal health improved from 22.5% to 19.17%, deprivation in nutrition dropped from 37% to 31%, and deprivation in child and adolescent mortality fell from 2.69% to 2.06%.The largest percentage of close to 30% came from inadequate nutrition in the total computation of India’s multidimensional poverty index. Nutrition is arguably one of the most significant variables in India’s national MPI, accounting for close to one-third of the country’s multidimensional poverty, according to the research.If any infant between the ages of 0 and 59 months, woman between the ages of 15 and 49, or male between the ages of 15 and 54 years is determined to be undernourished, the household is said to be nutritionally deficient. If a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is under 18.5 kg/m2, either a lady or a man is regarded as being undernourished.If a child’s weight-for-age (underweight) or height-for-age (stunting) z-score is less than plus or minus two standard deviations from the median of the reference population, they are deemed to be malnourished. The entire household is considered to be malnourished even if only one person of it is found to be underweight.Indicators including inadequate access to maternal health care (11.73%), lack of years of schooling (16.65%), and lower-than-desired school attendance (9.10%), among others, did not show a substantial drop but contributed most to keeping Indians in poverty.

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