More Poor Folks in India than Anywhere Else

As the Ambani bozo builds a $2 billion dollar mansion amidst the Mumbai hovels, as glitzy malls replace neighborhood kaka shops, as wealthy kids snap up Rs 36,000 cell phones, as latte replaces chai and kapi for the nouveau riche and as watching ugly reality shows become de rigeur, the number of poor people in India has quietly gone up by tens of millions in 25 years.

India now accounts for nearly 33% of the world’s poor (estimated at 1.4 billion).

A new World Bank report on poverty said that the number of poor (defined as those living on less than $1.25 a day in 2005 prices) in India increased from 420 million people in 1981 to 455 million in 2005.

Given the abject poverty in Jharkand, Bihar, Uttaranchal, Orissa and some pockets in the south, we think the World Bank under-estimates the poverty level in India and that the actually number of poor could be 500 million or higher.

The silver lining, if it can even be called that, is that poverty rate in India as a share of the total population fell from 60% in 1981 to 42% in 2005.

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