India's first Report on Urban Poverty Launched

03 Feb 2009

New Delhi, 3 February 2009: The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched India’s first-of-its-kind report on the nature and dynamics of urban poverty in the country, at an event in this capital city, today.

Titled - 'India: Urban Poverty Report 2009' - Kumari Selja, Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, launched the report. “The pace of urbanization in India is set to increase, and with it, urban poverty and urban slums, despite 62 percent of GDP now being generated in towns and cities,” the minister stated. The report is part of UNDP project supporting the government to evolve a national strategy for urban poor.

Jerome Sauvage, Country Director a.i. UNDP, India welcomed the release of the report as an important step towards more inclusive planning of cities and towns. The report brings together 16 prominent authors, scholars and foremost civil society representatives for throwing light on the nature and dynamics of urban poverty in the country. It endeavours to fill a lacuna in the poverty literature to understand urban poverty as a phenomenon beyond the overflow of rural poverty and is, therefore, the first report of its kind that lays the foundation for a robust strategy.

Renowned social scientist Amitabh Kundu has played a key role in bringing out this report. “It is not a report on the poor in urban areas but a report on urbanization keeping poverty at the centre of the analysis,” he has stated in the report’s introduction. According to the report, in 2001 an estimated 23.7 percent of the urban population was living in slums amidst squalor, crime, diseases and tension. The report has noted, however, that not all slum dwellers exist below the poverty line. They are part of the “other” urban India because of poor city planning and poorer urban land management and legislations.

Apart from the realization that urbanization will be at a rate of 50 percent in India by 2030, the authors of the report have focused on the need to deliver basic services to the urban poor – real or perceived – as a pivotal poverty reduction challenge to be addressed through programmatic focus and proper allocation of funds. This challenge should not only address the present situation but should also foresee the future influx of urbanization. The urban poverty alleviation strategy should also be aimed at the poorest and most vulnerable.

To substantiate this crucial programmatic and policy need, the chapters in the report focus on macroeconomic trends and patterns of urbanization in the country, gender dimensions of urban poverty, patterns of migration, growing importance of the unorganized workforce, access of the urban poor to credit and capital markets and the role of cities in achieving the Millennium Development Goals of halving the number of people living below poverty line by 2015. Well-known publishing house, Oxford, is the distributor of the book which is nominally priced.Read the Report...