Nearly 13.5 crore people were pulled out of multi-dimensional poverty in five years on the back of improvement in parameters of nutrition, sanitation, years of schooling and access to cooking fuel among others, according to a report by NITI Aayog. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan recorded the steepest decline in poverty.

The government think-tank’s report comes close on the heels of the release of the UNDP-led Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, which noted that India saw a remarkable reduction in poverty, with 415 million people exiting poverty within a span of just 15 years (2005/6–19/21).

“India registered a significant decline of 9.80 percentage points in the number of India’s multidimensionally poor from 24.85 per cent in 2015-16 to 14.96 per cent in 2019-2021,” the report titled ‘National Multidimensional Poverty Index: A Progress Review 2023’ noted. This marked 13.5 crore people moving out of multi-dimensional poverty in this period.

The rural areas witnessed the fastest decline in poverty from 32.59 per cent to 19.28 per cent in this five years period. At the same time, in urban regions, incidence of poverty reduced from 8. 65 per cent to 5.27 per cent.

The report noted that between 2015-16 and 2019-21, the MPI (Multidimensional Poverty Index) value has nearly halved from 0.117 to 0.066. The intensity of poverty, which measures average deprivation among the people living in multi-dimensional poverty, improved to 44 per cent from about 47 per cent. The government’s think-tank believes this sets India on the path of achieving the SDG Target 1.2 (of reducing multidimensional poverty by at least half) much ahead of the stipulated timeline of 2030.

UP leads pack

Nearly 3.43 crore people escaped poverty in Uttar Pradesh, registering the largest decline among the 36 States and Union Territories.

India’s national MPI has three equally weighted dimensions — Health, Education, and Standard of living — which are represented by 12 indicators. These indicators include nutrition, child and adolescent mortality, maternal health, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, assets, and bank accounts.

Stating that all 12 indicators have shown improvement, the NITI Aayog report added that this suggests that government’s interventions in improving access to sanitation, nutrition, cooking fuel, financial inclusion, drinking water, and electricity has “led to significant advancements in these areas” These includes flagship programmes such as Poshan Abhiyan, Swachh Bharat Mission, Jal Jeevan Mission, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) among others.

The second edition of NITI Aayog’s National Multidimensional Poverty Index is based on the latest National Family Health Survey (2019-21) and represents India’s progress in reducing multidimensional poverty between the two surveys, NFHS-4 (2015-16) and NFHS-5 (2019-21). The report follows the Alkire-Foster methodology developed by its technical partners — the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).