A total of 5.6 crore Indians slipped into poverty in the pandemic year of 2020, the World Bank said in a report on Wednesday, citing data from a household survey conducted by think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.
The findings of the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey done by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy are yet to be finalised, but they have been used for the global poverty estimates made by the World Bank in its report titled “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2022”.
Data from the CMIE survey was used to fill gaps in global and regional poverty estimates as India has not published official figures since 2011, the World Bank said.
The financial body, however, noted that its estimates on poverty in India were significantly higher than a paper presented in the International Monetary Fund that claimed that 2.3 crore Indians fell into poverty in 2020.
The IMF paper, based on national accounts, has been authored by economists Surjit Bhalla, Karan Bhasin and Arvind Virmani. Bhalla, who resigned as a member of the Economic Advisory Council to the prime minister in 2018, is currently the executive director for India at the IMF.
Meanwhile, the World Bank report noted that while the final numbers could be higher or lower, all indications suggested that the global shock to poverty reduction as a result of the coronavirus pandemic was “historically large”.
The pandemic increased the global extreme poverty rate to an estimated 9.3% in 2020, up from 8.4% in 2019, the report said.
The report also noted that there has been a decline in poverty in India since 2011, especially in rural areas.
“Even though overall poverty has declined, it is by less than what earlier estimates used for global poverty measurement would suggest,” the report noted.
An earlier estimate of the World Bank had suggested that in 2017, 10.4% of India’s population would be below the poverty line of $1.90. However, the latest estimate showed that 13.6% was under the poverty line in 2017.
In 2019-’20, 10% of India’s population was living under the updated poverty line of $2.15, the World Bank report said. In rural areas, 12% of the population lived below poverty line, while 6% of urban Indians were in poverty.
The condition of the poor population was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic as the government found it hard to reach out to those in need, the World Bank said.
Nonetheless, the bank claimed that the government reached out to 85% of rural homes and 69% in urban areas with its schemes during the pandemic.
“Public works were used by households in need, but often at later stages of the crisis, when social distancing restrictions had eased and aversion behaviour had abated,” the report noted.