The economic boom and the subsequent double-digit GDP growth achieved by some of the world’s emerging economies, such as Brazil, India and China, have led many to believe that poverty, inequality and other associated issues could be eliminated even without government intervention or active participation. But a new report by ActionAid, a UK based charity organization, is somewhat startling and to some extent unexpected. In the report, released to coincide with UN World Food Day, ActionAid has listed a number of developed, less developed and developing countries based the efficiency of their programs initiated to give legal, constitutional and social protection to those who need them the most.
ActionAid has come up with a shocking report showing that some of the poorest countries such as Ghana, Malawi and Vietnam have done a considerable progress in eliminating hunger and poverty whereas India, a liberal democratic country with huge economic growth, has done a little in this regard despite its ambition to become world’s new economic superpower.
What is even more surprising is that, Brazil, which has largely been overshadowed by India and China in the past, has done a commendable and exceptional job by punching above its weight. Despite having much slower growth rate as compared to India and China, Brazil has made a major progress in this direction by reducing inequality and giving attention to the social welfare schemes. The Bolsa Familia welfare scheme alone has lifted more than 11 million families out of poverty in Brazil. ActionAid said Brazil’s success shows “what can be achieved when the state has both resources and political will to tackle hunger”.
If we go by the statistic only, China has also done a remarkable job by reducing poverty 6.6% per year. India, on the other hand, has failed to do anything praiseworthy. Its poverty line has reduced from 60% to 42% in 2005 but this is far from impressive. There are some problems with the Indian statistics, as different consumption figures were used for determining the poverty line. Between 1981 and 2005, Brazil has managed to reduce poverty 3.2% annually whereas India is lagging behind with just 1.5% poverty reduction per year, despite having a robust economy.
Now, what makes the difference are the improper distribution of wealth, resources and the utter failure of the trickle-down effect of the economy. Rising inequality, corruption and other associated social evils have made it difficult for China and more particularly for India to deliver the benefits of social welfare schemes to the right people. But the success of a poverty elimination program is basically dependening on how these social welfare schemes are working on ground level. But in case of India, these policies have failed utterly because of the lack of political will. Without political will and sufficient planning, a complete eradication of poverty will always remain an elusive and distant dream for these countries.