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Muslims, STs, Dalits made most progress in combating poverty: UN

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United Nations: While India has taken tremendous strides in combating poverty in the past decade, Muslims, members of the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Dalits saw the most progress in reducing the impact of poverty, according to data compiled in a UN project.

The “very positive trend” during the decade between 2005-06 and 2015-16 in India is that “the poorest are catching up”, Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHDI), said on Thursday at the presentation of the 2018 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) here.

The MPI prepared by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the OPHDI, takes into account various indicators of development rather than just income and aligns them to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, while serving as a measure of the intensity of poverty felt by different groups.

While ST members were still the poorest group, they have seen the fastest reduction in MPI, as have the Dalits, Alkire said.

Explaining it, Diego Zavaleta Reyles from OPHDI told IANS that the average number of deprivations or “the intensity of their poverty” measured by the MPI fell for these groups even though the proportion of poor people in these categories was relatively the same or unchanged.

Between 2006 and 2016, the MPI of the STs came down from 0.447 to 0.229 even though the percentage had fallen only from 79.8 to 50 during the decade, according to OPHDI data.

During the same period, the MPI of Dalits fell from 0.338 to 0.145 while the percentage of poor came down from 65 to 32.9.

“If we look at the religious groups, the Muslims are the poorest and they again had the fastest reduction in MPI,” Alkire said.

While MPI for Muslims was 0.331 in 2006, it fell to 0.144 in 2016, and the percentage of the poor in the community came down from 60.3 per cent to 31.1 per cent.

Nationally, 54.7 per cent of the people in all groups taken together were poor in 2006, but only 27.5 per cent in 2016, and the MPI came down from 0.279 to 0.121, the data show.

In terms of numbers, 271 million people had moved out of poverty during the decade, with the number of poor people coming down 635 million in 2005-06 to 364 million according to the MPI standards.

But “we are seeing a shift of global proportions occurring in India over a ten-year period and that is really encouraging”, Alkire said.

India is the only country for which changes of this magnitude are taking place at this time, she added.

Bihar remains the poorest state, but along with other high-poverty states – Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhatisgarh – had the fastest reduction in multi-dimensional poverty, she said.

In spite of the progress, these states still remain the poorest.

Among age groups, children, who are still the poorest, saw the fastest reduction in MPI, she said.

Such reduction in poverty among these groups or states did had not happened in India in the earlier periods according to a previous study for the period 1998-1999 to 2005-06, she said.

UNDP Administrator Adam Steiner said that when governments start looking carefully at who the poor are and where they are, the analysis leads to programmes that help the poorest of the poor, whether by ethnicity, religion or geography, and results like those in India can be achieved.

Traditional poverty measures – often calculated by numbers of people who earn less than $1.90 a day – shed light on how little people earn but not on whether or how they experience poverty in their day-to-day lives, according to UNDP.

On the other hand, MPI takes into account health, education and living standards in areas like access to clean water, sanitation, nutrition and primary education, with those lacking in at least a third of these defined as multi-dimensionally poor.

According to the income-based measurement, only 270 million Indians are considered poor but according to the MPI standards a far larger number – 364 million — were categorised as multi-dimensionally poor in 2016.

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Global Covid-19 cases top 31mn mark: Johns Hopkins

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The overall number of global coronavirus cases on Monday surpassed the 31 million mark, while the deaths have increased to more than 960,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

The total number of cases stood at 31,044,033 and the fatalities rose to 960,826, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 6,805,629 and 199,512, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in the second place in terms of cases at 5,487,580, while the country’s death toll soared to 87,882.

The other top 15 countries with the maximum amount of cases are Brazil (4,544,629), Russia (1,105,048), Peru (768,895), Colombia (765,076), Mexico (697,663), South Africa (661,211), Spain (640,040), Argentina (631,365), France (467,614), Chile (446,274), Iran (422,140), the UK (396,744), Bangladesh (348,918), Saudi Arabia (329,754) and Iraq (319,035), the CSSE figures showed.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 136,895.

The countries with a death toll above 10,000 are Mexico (73,493), the UK (41,866), Italy (35,668), Peru (31,369), France (31,257), Spain (30,495), Iran (24,301), Colombia (23,665), Russia (19,420), South Africa (15,953), Argentina (13,053), Chile (12,286) and Ecuador (11,090).

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UK PM to address nation over ‘winter lockdown plans

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to address the nation to brace citizens for “winter lockdown plans” in preparation for a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, media reports said.

The Prime Minister could make the TV address as early as Tuesday, said The Sun newspaper.

The Prime Minister could make the TV address as early as Tuesday, said The Sun newspaper.

He is looking at making pubs and restaurants close early and banning households from meeting up, it added.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer Patrick Vallance will reportedly make an address ahead of the Prime Minister, the Metro newspaper said in a report.

The scientists will outline the consequences of taking no action to curb the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, a government adviser, Professor Susan Michie, told The Telegraph on Sunday that every day of delay could have dire health outcomes.

“We need a stitch in time. We need to learn the lessons of the spring. Every day’s delay to a step change in measures to restrict transmission when it is increasing exponentially will be expensive in terms of health and lives in the short term and the economy in the long term,” she added.

Johnson has previously admitted that second national lockdown would be “nothing short of disastrous”‘ for the UK, the Metro newspaper reported.

The development comes as more than 10 million across the UK are placed in some form of local lockdown.As of Monday, the UK has reported a total of 396,744 coron mm mm u huhavirus cases, with 41,866 deaths.

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4 new Covid-19 cases reported in NZ

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Wellington, Sep 20 (IANS) New Zealand reported four new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the nationwide tally to 1,464, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Of the four new cases, two were community cases and two were at managed isolation facilities, Xinhua news agency reported citing the Ministry statement.

The current number of active cases in New Zealand has reduced to 71, including three patients in Auckland hospitals.

Laboratories across New Zealand have conducted 5,417 tests, increasing the total number till date to 910,853, according to the Ministry.

New Zealand is now at COVID-19 Alert Level 2 with additional restrictions on gatherings for its biggest city Auckland.

–IANS

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