India’s fight against poverty, child mortality and open defecation, among other key areas, needs to be intensified, says UN’s Millennium Development Goals report 2014.

According to the report, “In 2010, one-third of the world’s 1.2 billion extreme poor lived in India alone.”

In fact, a recent recommendation to revise India’s poverty line, made by a panel headed by C Rangarajan, estimated that about one-third of India’s population, or 363 million (as of 2011-12), are below the poverty line.

“However, in real terms India’s “poor” population may be larger as this estimation is made on a very low daily-spending capacity of ₹32 in rural and ₹47 in urban areas.”

Further, the international poverty line, as defined by the World Bank keeping in mind the standards of the world’s poorest countries, stands at $1.25 a day, which translates to about ₹75 (if $1 = ₹60). This is the definition used by the UN as well.

The World Bank also predicts that, by 2015, 40 per cent of the estimated 970 million people living on less than $1.25 a day will be from Southern Asia.

“China leads the way in global poverty reduction, with extreme poverty (living under $1.25 a day) dropping from 60 per cent in 1990 to 16 per cent in 2005 and 12 per cent in 2010,” the MDG report noted. China still has about 13 per cent of the world’s extreme poor.

Infant deaths In another depressing statistic, the UN report said, “India had the highest number of under-five deaths in the world in 2012, with 1.4 million children dying before reaching their fifth birthday.”

This is despite the fact that globally the mortality rate for children under-five has dropped by almost 50 per cent in 2012.

Sanitation is another area which brings woe for India. It retains its infamous status as having the biggest population without access to proper toilets. “Close to 60 per cent of the one billion people practising open defecation live in India,” the UN report notes.

Though the UN’s MDG report is more region specific, these references have been made specifically to India, which is the largest country of the South Asia region. This region itself has fared poorly on most parameters of development.

For example, the report notes that in 2012 the prevalence of under-nutrition of children was highest in South Asia, with 30 per cent of under-five children being underweight. The region also accounted for 24 per cent of all maternal deaths worldwide in 2013.