NEW DELHI: India tops the list of countries with the largest share of global extreme poor, taking up over 30 percent of the global extreme poor, said a U.N. report published here Wednesday by the Indian government.
The overwhelming majority of people living on less than 1.25 U. S. dollars a day belong to Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with one third, or 32.9 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion extreme poor living in India alone in 2010, said the report. 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, while south Asia accounted for 2.1 million of the 6.6 million deaths in children under five worldwide, the report which tracks progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) said.
Indian Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla, who released the report in New Delhi, said its findings present a challenge to the government under Narendra Modi and that it would be able to surmount it. “We don’t have to be proud of what we have done. Poverty is the biggest challenge... I am sure when the next report comes, we will have done much better,” she said. According to the report, almost 60 percent of the people who defecate in open reside in India, which has also accounted for 17 percent of global maternal deaths.
China, which has made rapid strides in reducing poverty, follows India in housing the extreme poor global population and was home to 13 percent of them in 2010, followed by Nigeria at 9 percent and Bangladesh at 5 percent, it said. South Asia, of which India is the largest and most populous country, has fared worse than other Asian regions in most of the parameters, except in school enrollment. The MDGs covers poverty, hunger, health, gender equality, education and environmental indicators, agreed by all countries at the U.N. Millennium Summit in 2000, mostly with a due date of 2015.
“India’s role in global development is the most important in the world. The MDGs can’t be reached globally if they are not reached here,” said Lise Grande, United Nations resident coordinator and U.N. Development Program resident representative in India. “The new post-2015 framework cannot succeed if it does not reflect the aspirations, and does not have the commitment and support of India,” she said.
“India’s commitment to reach the MDGs has been an inspiration to countries around the world; its leadership now in defining the new framework has never been more important,” she added. The report also said South Asia has made great progress on the MDGs, but requires greater efforts to achieve most targets by the end of 2015. In South Asia, the adjusted net enrollment rate of children of primary school age increased from 80 percent in 2000 to 94 percent in 2012.
However, gender parity in the region is yet to be achieved in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where there are at most nine girls for every ten boys enrolled, while in Bangladesh and Nepal the gender disparity favors girls. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014, first released by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 7, said many global MDG targets on reducing poverty, increasing access to improved drinking water sources, improving the lives of slum dwellers and achieving gender parity in primary schools have already been met.
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