A study to identify the multidimensionally poor in the developing world has found that with over 340 million destitute people, India is the second poorest country in South Asia behind war-torn Afghanistan.
The study conducted by Britain's Oxford University has found that in 49 countries, half of the poor are so deprived they should be classed as "destitute".
And 40 per cent of them live in India, mostly in rural areas, according to the global multidimensional poverty index or MPI, which measures "overlapping deprivations" in health, education and living standards.
Using the MPI tool, the researchers classified the "destitute" as those who experience extreme deprivation such as having lost two children or more, having someone severely malnourished in the household, or having no assets at all.
The study says overall, the situation has improved for the world's poor due to poverty reduction programmes and economic growth; however, there is still a formidable core of extremely poor people. The largest numbers of destitute people, 420 million, were found in South Asia.
Drawing on the most recent official figures available, the Oxford researchers calculate that there are around 343 million destitute people in India alone.
Although number-wise India has the largest population of the poor, proportionately Afghanistan had the highest level of destitution at 38 per cent. The study calls India's 28.5 per cent destitution as a "troubling" trend. At the same time, India's economically backward neighbors - Pakistan and Bangladesh - have lower levels of destitution at 20.7 per cent and 17.2 per cent respectively.
The study by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) marks the northern Indian state of Bihar as the poorest region among 49 countries.
In sub Saharan Africa, there are around 200 million destitute people, with the highest proportion found in Niger where over two-thirds (68.8 percent) of the population were classed as destitute.
The study has also identified countries where there were improvements for poor people. In Ethiopia, the research shows that the share of destitute people shrank by 30 percentage points between 2000 and 2011.
In 2014, the global MPI covered 108 countries which are home to 78 percent of the world's population.
by RTT Staff Writer
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