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Special Content

Issue no 19, 05-11 August 2023

Towards Achieving Sustainable Development Goals

India has been making continuous strides in achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals, by embracing the goals and targets and integrating them into its national development agenda. Sustainable development requires sustained action over time. The country has been consistently putting efforts in implementing sustainable solutions for the world's greatest challenges ranging from poverty to climate change, thus creating a way for a sustainable and resilient future for generations to come.

NITI Aayog, on July 17, 2023, released its 'National Multidimensional Poverty Index: A Progress Review 2023' report. Based on the latest National Family Health Survey [NFHS-5 (2019-21)], this second edition of the National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) represents 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.

The development of the National Multidimensional Poverty Index of India is an important contribution towards instituting a public policy tool which monitors multidimensional poverty, and informs evidence-based and focused interventions, thereby ensuring that no one is left behind. India's MPI is the first-of-its-kind index which measures the globally accepted and robust methodology developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which have been key partners in ensuring the public policy utility and technical rigour of the Index. Importantly, as a measure of multidimensional poverty, it captures multiple and simultaneous deprivations faced by households.

NITI Aayog, as the nodal agency for MPI, has been responsible for constructing an indigenized index for monitoring the performance of States and Union Territories in addressing multidimensional poverty. In order to institutionalise this, NITI Aayog constituted an inter-ministerial MPI Coordination Committee (MPICC) including Ministries and departments pertaining to areas such as health, education, nutrition, rural development, drinking water, sanitation, electricity, and urban development, among others. It also included experts from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) and technical partners - OPHI and UNDP. The composition of the MPICC drew from the multidimensional nature of the indicators and sub-indicators within the index. This brought forth cross-sectoral perspectives on policies and interventions needed to improve achievements at the level of households.

Methodology: Historically, poverty estimation has predominantly relied on income as the sole indicator. However, the Global Multidi-mensional Poverty Index (MPI), based on the Alkire-Foster (AF) methodology, captures overl-apping deprivations in health, education, and living standards.

Like the global MPI, India's national MPI has three equally-weighted dimensions - Health, Education, and Standard of Living - which are represented by 12 SDG-aligned indicators.

The report presents an in-depth analysis of the Headcount Ratio and Intensity of Multidimensional Poverty at the national, State/UT, and district levels. Headcount ratio is the proportion of multidimensionally poor in the population, which is arrived at by dividing the number of multidimensionally poor persons by total population. Intensity of poverty is the average proportion of depriv-ations which is experienced by multidimensionally poor individuals. To compute intensity, the weighted deprivation scores of all poor people are summed and then divided by the total number of poor people. MPI value is arrived at by multiplying the Headcount Ratio and the Intensity of Poverty, reflecting both the share of people in poverty and the degree to which they are deprived. According to the AF methodology, an individual is considered MPI poor if their deprivation score equals or exceeds the poverty cutoff of 33.33%.


Steep Decline in Poverty: India has achieved a remarkable reduction in its MPI value and Headcount Ratio between 2015-16 and 2019-21, indicating success of the country's commitment and action to address the  multidimensional nature of poverty through its multisectoral approach. The MPI estimates highlight a near-halving of India's national MPI value and decline in the proportion of population in multidimensional poverty from 24.85% to 14.96% between 2015-16 and 2019-21. This indicates that a record 13.5 crore people moved out of multidi-mensional poverty between 2015-16 and 2019-21. At the same time, the Intensity of Poverty also reduced from 47.14% to 44.39%.


Disparities across Rural and Urban Areas: While disparities in multidi-mensional poverty still exist between rural and urban areas, the reduction in the MPI value has been pro-poor in absolute terms. The rural areas witnessed the fastest decline in poverty from 32.59% to 19.28%. During the same period, the urban areas saw a reduction in poverty from 8.65% to 5.27%.

Performance of States/UTs: The MPI estimates show that States/UTs have displayed notable improvements in their MPI score from 2015-16 to 2019-21. Bihar, the state with the highest MPI value in NFHS-4 (2015-16), saw the fastest reduction in MPI value in absolute terms, with the proportion of multidimensional poor reducing from 51.89% to 33.76% in 2019-21. The next fastest reduction in the MPI value was seen in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

In terms of number of MPI poor, Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 3.43 crore people exiting multidimensional poverty in the last five years, followed by Bihar (2.25 crore) and Madhya Pradesh (1.36 crore).

Marked improvement is witnessed across all 12 indicators: Since the data reference period of NFHS 2015-16, India has made remarkable strides through flagship programmatic interventions in housing, electricity, sanitation, drinking water, and cooking fuel, among others. Apart from building infrastructure and ensuring basic services, focused initiatives to improve health and nutritional outcomes have been undertaken expeditiously during this period.

As a result, all the 12 indicators across the three dimensions - Health, Education and Standard of Living - saw statistically significant reduction across the two time periods. Deprivations in sanitation (reduction by 21.8% points) and cooking fuel (reduction by 14.6% points) fell the most during the period from 2015-16 to 2019-21. Overall, progress in nutrition, years of schooling, sanitation, and cooking fuel has been the significant contributor to the decline in MPI value though there is further scope to make improvements.

India's National MPI Report underlines the Government's commitment to understanding, measuring, and addressing the many dimensions of poverty and leveraging this understanding as a key tool in policymaking. India's stellar progress on the national MPI between  2015-16 and 2019-21 reflects the Government's commitment to improving the quality of people's lives - through targeted policies, schemes, and developmental programmes rolled out at both the national and sub-national levels. 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 Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), Poshan Abhiyan, Samagra Shiksha, Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya), Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and many more have contributed significantly in driving the tremendous progress presented in this report.

Compiled by: Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan (Young Professionals, Publications Division)

Source: NITI Aayog/PIB