The latest National Multidimensional Poverty Index released by Niti Aayog states that nearly 13.5 crore people were lifted out of poverty in the five-year period till 2019-21. 

What is multidimensional poverty?

Historically, poverty estimation was done by largely focusing on income as the sole indicator. However, there was criticism that monetary and consumption-based poverty measures fail to capture the impact of lack of other non-monetary factors on standard of living. 

Niti Aayog’s National Multidimensional Poverty Index is modeled on the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, which is jointly published by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It captures overlapping deprivations in health, education, and living standards.

The government’s think-tank published the first National MPI baseline report for India in November, 2021. OPHI and the UNDP are its technical partners.

How is it different from normal measures of poverty?

Just like the global MPI, National MPI has three equally weighted dimensions of Health, Education and Standard of Living. These are represented by 12 indicators. These include nutrition, child and adolescent mortality, maternal health, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, assets, and bank accounts.

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The second edition of MPI is based on the National Family Health Survey (2019-21). It captures India’s progress in reducing multidimensional poverty between the two surveys, NFHS-4 (2015-16) and NFHS-5 (2019-21). It builds on the Baseline Report of India’s National MPI launched in November 2021.

What are the findings of Niti Aayog on multi-dimensional poverty in India?

All 12 indicators saw improvement. India’s national MPI value has nearly halved from 0.117 to 0.066.The proportion of population in multidimensional poverty reduced from 24.85 per cent to 14.96 per cent between 2015-16 and 2019-21. This reduction of 9.89 percentage points indicates that, at the level of projected population in 2021, about 135.5 million (13.5 crore) people have been pulled out of poverty during this five-year period.

The Intensity of Poverty, which measures the average deprivation among the people living in multidimensional poverty, also reduced from 47.14 per cent to 44.39 per cent.

The incidence of poverty in rural regions reduced from 32.59 per cent to 19.28 per cent while in urban regions it reduced from 8.65 per cent to 5.27 per cent in urban areas.

In terms of number of MPI poor, Uttar Pradesh saw the steepest decline with 3.43 crore people moving out of multidimensional poverty, followed by Bihar (2.25 crore) and Madhya Pradesh (1.36 crore).

Does it corroborate with UNDP’s findings?

UNDP, which also released its Global MPI report earlier this month, noted that nearly 415 million people were lifted out of multidimensional poverty within a span of 15 years (2005/6–19/21) in India.

What led to the reduction in MDP in India?

The Niti Aayog report credits government’s targeted policies, schemes and development programmes.

“The Government’s focus on investments in critical areas of education, nutrition, water, sanitation, cooking fuel, electricity, and housing has played a pivotal role in driving these positive outcomes. Key Government schemes such as Swachch Bharat Mission (SBM), Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), Poshan Abhiyan, Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya), Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) among others have contributed significantly in driving the tremendous progress,” Niti Aayog stated.

Are there any takeaways for policy-makers from this reduction?

Experts believe that it is critical to monitor progress, assess gaps and address emerging channels amidst global macroeconomic headwinds. Shoko Noda, Resident Representative, UNDP India said that, “when complemented with monetary poverty measures, the national MPI will enable policymakers to reflect on, and effectively respond to the comprehensiveness and complexity of poverty in the country.”

India aims to reduce poverty in all its forms by atleast half by 2030 in line with SDG target 1.2.