NEW DELHI: The number of India's poor fell to 29.8% of its population in 2009-10 from 37.2% in 2004-05, one of the sharpest falls ever. This suggests India has not only grown faster than the world economy, but that this growth has lifted millions out of poverty.
In absolute terms, the number of poor in the country declined by around 13% to 354 million during the fiveyear period with rural poverty falling faster thanurban poverty. During the period, rural poverty declined by 8 percentage points to 33.8%, almost double the decline of urban poor by 4.8 percentage points to 20.9%.
It is interesting that India started a war on poverty in 2006, and it seems to be winning. Not that one thing necessarily caused the other, but it is some coincidence.
"This is not surprising. Such an outcome is on expected lines as this is the period when the government increased the expenditure on flagship programmes substantially. We gave money to the people and the result is a direct impact of that," said Mihir Shah, member, Planning Commission.
The numbers also re-affirm the impact of the government's flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme that entitles 100 days of work at a minimum rate of Rs 100 per day to all rural households. The scheme was launched in 2006 and has single-handedly transformed rural India.