United Nations : While India has taken tremendous strides in combating poverty in the past decade, Muslims, members of the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Dalits saw the most progress in reducing the impact of poverty, according to data compiled in a UN project.

The “very positive trend” during the decade between 2005-06 and 2015-16 in India is that “the poorest are catching up”, Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHDI), said at the presentation of the 2018 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in United Nations.

The MPI prepared by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the OPHDI, takes into account various indicators of development rather than just income and aligns them to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, while serving as a measure of the intensity of poverty felt by different groups. While ST members were still the poorest group, they have seen the fastest reduction in MPI, as have the Dalits, Alkire said.

Explaining it, Diego Zavaleta Reyles from OPHDI said the average number of deprivations or “the intensity of their poverty” measured by the MPI fell for these groups even though the proportion of poor people in these categories was relatively the same or unchanged.

Between 2006 and 2016, the MPI of the STs came down from 0.447 to 0.229 even though the percentage had fallen only from 79.8 to 50 during the decade, according to OPHDI data. During the same period, the MPI of Dalits fell from 0.338 to 0.145 while the percentage of poor came down from 65 to 32.9. “If we look at the religious groups, the Muslims are the poorest and they again had the fastest reduction in MPI,” Alkire said.

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