Pervasive penury

Print edition : November 11, 2016

A mother with her child affected by Japanese encephalitis at the Malkangiri district hospital in Odisha on October 8. Photo: Biswaranjan Rout

Despite making much progress over the past two decades, India still has a long way to go in its battle to eradicate poverty.

The latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which ranks India 97th out of 118 countries, is yet another indicator that the country has much ground to cover in its fight against hunger and poverty.

It is a testament to the administration’s collective failure in addressing these issues despite India’s stature as a growing economy and one of the world’s leading producers of food.

The report also points out that various poorer countries in Asia have achieved greater progress in this area compared with India.

The total expenditure on social services has zoomed from about Rs.3.80 lakh crore in 2008-09 to more than Rs.8.68 lakh crore in 2014-15, but when seen as a percentage of total expenditure, the spending on education has stagnated and that on health and other sectors has actually fallen.

Government data for 2011-12 showed that nearly 27 crore people remained below the poverty line nationwide, while at least eight States had more than 30 per cent of their population living below the poverty line.