Daily Answer Writing for UPSC – 18th July 2023

Question: Explain the concept of the National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) and how it differs from traditional income-based poverty measures. Discuss the advantages of using the MPI in gauging poverty in India. (150 words)

Answer: The National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is a comprehensive poverty measurement tool that goes beyond traditional income-based poverty measures to provide a more nuanced and accurate assessment of poverty. It was developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). The MPI evaluates poverty by considering multiple dimensions of deprivation that individuals and households may experience simultaneously.

Differences from Traditional Income-Based Poverty Measures:

  • Multidimensionality: Unlike traditional income-based poverty measures, which focus solely on income levels, the MPI considers a range of deprivations that individuals may face in several dimensions of life, including education, health, living standards, and social protection.
  • Simultaneity of Deprivations: The MPI recognizes that individuals and households often experience deprivation in more than one area of life simultaneously. It captures the overlapping nature of poverty by examining the intersection of deprivations.
  • Weighted Indicators: The MPI assigns different weights to various indicators based on their relative importance in defining poverty. This ensures that no single indicator dominates the overall poverty assessment.
  • Threshold Approach: Traditional income-based poverty measures use a single monetary threshold to distinguish between the poor and non-poor. The MPI, on the other hand, sets specific cutoff points for different indicators, providing a more detailed analysis of poverty in various dimensions.

Advantages of using the MPI in Gauging Poverty in India:

  • Holistic Assessment: It provides a more accurate picture of the challenges faced by the poor and helps identify the most vulnerable groups.
  • Sub-National Analysis: The MPI allows for sub-national analysis, enabling policymakers to understand regional variations in poverty and target resources where they are most needed.
  • Inclusivity and Sensitivity: The MPI is sensitive to the experiences of different population groups and recognizes that poverty affects individuals in unique ways, including gender, age, and ethnicity. This inclusivity ensures that no one is left behind in poverty reduction efforts.
  • Global Comparisons: As the MPI is used internationally, it enables comparisons of poverty rates across countries, helping India benchmark its poverty reduction efforts against global standards.

The National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is a powerful tool that offers a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of poverty in India. By taking into account multiple dimensions of deprivation, it provides policymakers with valuable insights for designing effective poverty reduction strategies and targeted interventions. The MPI’s ability to track progress over time, conduct sub-national analysis, and consider diverse population groups makes it a crucial instrument in India’s ongoing fight against poverty.

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