Saturday, May 06, 2006

Poverty in India and the Millenium Development Goals

India is a land of contrasts.

The country has experienced phenomenal annual GDP growth rates in recent years, and has become either the fourth- or twelfth largest economy, depending on which measure you use, said

India has joined China as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. "Economics experts and various studies conducted across the globe envisage India and China to rule the world in the 21st century," said in a piece entitled Indian Economy Overview. "For over a century the United States has been the largest economy in the world but major developments have taken place in the world economy since then, leading to the shift of focus from the US and the rich countries of Europe to the two Asian giants- India and China."

But poverty remains a huge concern for a country with a population of 1 billion (as measured by the 2001 census). Some experts are worried that the country's growing wealth is not reaching the poor, thereby expanding the economic gap that already existed for generations. Three out of every four persons who live below the poverty line in India reside in rural areas.

"India is growing at an unprecedented rate. But there are concerns. How much of the benefits of growth are shared with the poor?" said a study conducted by the London School of Economics (LSE) and commissioned by the World Bank and the U.K.'s International Development Department.

As the LSE study points out, "the number of people below poverty line is still a staggering 260 million."

Still, it would only be right to give credit to India for reducing its poverty rate below 26 percent. Just a few years ago, as many as 400 million people in India lived below the poverty line, according to the United Nations Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific.

Because India accounts for such a large number of the world's poor, its ability to reduce poverty will have a major bearing on whether the countries of the world are able to meet Goal Number One of the Millenium Development Goals, which is to Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger.

"Given its large population, the pattern of poverty reduction in India will have a significant bearing on whether the millennium development goal of halving global poverty by 2015 is achieved," said the LSE study.

Bread for the World meeting to look at India

The issue of poverty in India will be among the topics discussed at a program sponsored by Bread for the World New Mexico on Saturday, May 13 in the conference room of the New Mexico Conference of Churches, 720 Vassar Dr. NE (near Lomas & Girard, behind First Congregational Church), 9:00-11:00 A.M.

Our special guests are I
van and Linda Westergaard of St. Paul Lutheran Church and Cathy Pfefferle of Aquinas Newman Center, who visited India over the past year or so.

Cathy traveled to that country with the
Wings Ministry. Read accounts from Cathy and others who went on the trip. Pictured (left) is Cathy and fellow Wings member Doug at the Jesus Mercy Home Association Orphanage. Pictured at the top of the page are girls from an orphange performing a welcoming dance. (Photos taken by Ann Edenfield, Wings Ministry).

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