NEW DELHI: One third of the extreme poor global population reside in India which has also recorded the highest number of under-five deaths in the world, the latest UN Millennium Development Goals report has said.
Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla, who released the report here, said its findings present a challenge to the government under Narendra Modi and that they would be able to surmount it.
"Good days will come," she said. "We don't have to be proud of what we have done. Poverty is the biggest challenge... I am sure when the next report comes, we will have done much better," she said, stressing on Prime Minister's commitment to poverty elimination and "sabka saath sabka vikas (With all, development for all)".
Though the report's figures for various human development parameters are mostly specific to different regions of the world, it has made references to India none of which, she said, are "flattering.
Heptulla has had a long association with the UN programme and was closely involved with it during the previous NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Highlights of the report
- Almost 60 per cent of the people who defecate in open reside in India.
- India has accounted for 17 per cent of global maternal deaths.
- China, which has made rapid strides in reducing poverty, follows India in housing the extreme poor global population and was home to 13 per cent of them in 2010, followed by Nigeria at 9 per cent and Bangladesh at 5 percent.
- South Asia, of which India is the largest and most populous country, has fared worse than other Asian regions in most of the parameters.
- South Asia has, however, done well in school enrolment.
- The greatest increase in youth literacy rates between 1990 and 2011 was observed in Southern Asia region as it went from 60 to 80 per cent.
- The literacy rate among young women is growing at a faster pace than that of young men in South Asia.
- The youth literacy rates are over 97 per cent for both Eastern Asia and South-Eastern Asia
Stressing the new government's commitment to improving human development index, Heptulla recalled the words of Mahatma Gandhi that validity of any action was the impact it had on the poorest of the poor and said this is also the "guiding principle" of Modi dispensation.
"Sadly, despite paying lip-service to Mahatma Gandhi we have been unable to fulfil his aspiration. And this is the challenge that our government has inherited and is committed to fulfilling," she said.
Modi has given highest priority to providing people adequate sanitation, drinking water, maternal and child care, particularly to the disadvantaged sections.
UN Resident Coordinator Lise Grande said India's role in global development is the most important in the world and the Millennium Development Goals can't be reached globally if they're not reached here.