International Development written question – answered on 16th October 2006.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Conservative, Buckingham

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of poverty and inequality in India.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

DFID's development programme in India is informed by assessments of poverty and inequality carried out by the Government of India and multilateral partners such as the World Bank. Individual DFID-funded programmes and projects also support poverty and inequality data gathering and analysis affecting smaller sections of the Indian population.

The Indian Government's National Sample Survey provides the principal nationwide poverty data used to inform their activities and DFID's programme. The last survey was undertaken during 2004-05, and its results are awaited. While previous surveys showed a rapid fall in the number of people below the poverty line, from 36 per cent. to 26 per cent. of the population, it is likely that the latest results will indicate a slower pace of poverty reduction.

DFID India's Country Assistance Plan 2004-08 noted that inequality is widely accepted as "the most significant challenge for India" in eradicating poverty. Although the 2006 World Bank document, 'Inclusive Growth and Service Delivery: Building on India's Success' notes India as having low inequality in income compared to other countries, India's rapid economic growth since the early 1990s has brought with it increased inequality.

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