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   Rural Poverty Report 2011
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
24 Feb 2011
p>So it may seem as the absolute number of poor has consistently grown – by current estimate an estimated over 1.4 billion women, men and children live in extreme poverty. Increasingly volatile food prices, the uncertain effects of climate change, and stifling of rural livelihoods by development juggernaut have impacted efforts to reduce poverty.

Despite the prescription to eradicate poverty having failed thus far, the Rural Poverty Report stays optimistic about eradicating rural poverty by the application of new opportunities that smallholder farmers can apply to boost their productivity. But, poverty eradication is inextricably intertwined with the need to feed the urban population, projected to touch 9 billion by 2050.

The report positions poverty within the market-driven demand-supply conundrum, seeking the need to strengthen the collective capabilities of rural people. While stressing the need for reforming the distorted global regime for trade in agricultural products, the report makes a demand on national stakeholders to provide an enabling environment for the smallholders.

Curiously, however, existing national policies may have removed poverty in many societies but that has been done by expanding the proportion and the absolute number of the destitute. Being a global agency that aims to ‘combat hunger and poverty in developing countries through low-interest loans’, IFAD views rural poverty predominantly from an asset perspective.

While acknowledging the multidimensional nature of poverty, the report misses out on the fact that poverty is a paradox of plural democracy that is wedded to global capitalism. Further, it does not take into account the glaring reality that as poverty gets increasingly associated with ethnic and cultural groups it loses political plot for its eradication. Consequently, it remains a game in `numbers’ that national governments and aid agencies play with growing immunity.

Published a decade after it had released its first poverty report, IFAD has covered significant new ground in analyzing the status of rural poverty across the world in the latest edition of its Rural Poverty Report. Although its conclusions are largely predictable, the report should nevertheless serve as a useful reference to researchers and planners.

Rural Poverty Report 2011
IFAD, Rome, 319 pages, Price not quoted

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

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Spoiling Tibet

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Devinder Sharma
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Pandurang Hegde
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