Multidimensional Poverty : beyond caloric intake

By Mrgya V

“Different observers in different states of motion see different realities,” said Albert Einstein.

At international level a person who earns less than $1.90 a day is known as poor. This amount may be enough for a person in a country like Bhutan to live a normal life with average food, education and house but at the same time, for another person in the USA it might be difficult to even have average food in this money as the value of dollar(money), inflation, price of goods and services changes country to country which makes few people receive all the essential facilities whereas a few people barely receive food.

According to the Future of jobs report by the World Economic Forum, 60% of the future jobs will be technology driven. So these people who are barely able to earn their food will be left out in future also. They won’t get better education so they won’t get jobs which will make the poor poorer.

9.2% population of the world is living on less than $1.90/day, 24.1% is living on $3.20/day, and 43.6% is living on $5.50/day. In India 22% of the population is living in extreme poverty. The population living in extreme poverty gets benefits of government interventions to eradicate poverty but the population which is on the border of this poverty line and just above this poverty line suffers the most as neither do they get benefits for government schemes nor they earn enough to facilitate good food, education and health facilities.Even at international level also if a country crosses the level of lower income country and reaches to middle income country level, it receives less international grants and other subsidies and benefits. The ignorance towards this middle income population leads to a big amount of unhealthy, illiterate or poor skilled human resource creating slums outside the city and getting exploited in the informal sector. The exploitation of this middle income group never ends because they don’t receive enough skills and training to enter into the formal sector.

A generalised definition of poverty says a poor is a person who does not have enough material possession or income for his/her basic needs. Poverty can be social, economic and political elements. In a free country or a free world a person should have the ability to develop himself to the utmost level.

In India poverty is measured on the recommendation of the Tendulkar committee report. He defines poverty on the basis of calorie intake by a person. Based on this calculation, a person receiving less than 2100 cal in urban areas and a person receiving less than 2400cal in rural areas is poor. According to this calorie intake need, he defined monetary value that is to define the poverty line. Internationally calorie intake or food is standard to measure poverty with few exceptions.

This implies a need to expand the bracket of poverty and to include few more parameters like education, health and housing. This will help include more people in government schemes who are deserving but left out because of that limited definition of poverty. This inclusion will initially increase the number of poor but will improve the overall country. Healthy and well educated people will create good human resource for the country. This will reduce the sharp inequality in the society also.
This poverty measure can be at global as well as national level. We can further divide it in regions. This way we will be able to reduce poverty from the world effectively.

Our government has taken huge steps to reduce poverty to this level in which recently started direct benefit transfer and financial inclusion have played an important role. In 1947, 70% Indian population was poor. Now in 2020 it has reached 22%.

Now the time is to think about left out poor who are vulnerable but not covered under any social security net. The time is to think about the concept of multidimensional poverty.


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