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India

Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of poverty and inequality in India. (92935)

DFID’s development programme in India is informed by assessments of poverty and inequality carried out by the Government of India and multilateral partners such as the World Bank. Individual DFID-funded programmes and projects also support poverty and inequality data gathering and analysis affecting smaller sections of the Indian population.

The Indian Government’s National Sample Survey provides the principal nationwide poverty data used to inform their activities and DFID’s programme. The last survey was undertaken during 2004-05, and its results are awaited. While previous surveys showed a rapid fall in the number of people below the poverty line, from 36 per cent. to 26 per cent. of the population, it is likely that the latest results will indicate a slower pace of poverty reduction.

DFID India’s Country Assistance Plan 2004-08 noted that inequality is widely accepted as “the most significant challenge for India” in eradicating poverty. Although the 2006 World Bank document, ‘Inclusive Growth and Service Delivery: Building on India’s Success’ notes India as having low inequality in income compared to other countries, India’s rapid economic growth since the early 1990s has brought with it increased inequality.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to reduce inequality in India. (92936)

DFID's programme in India operates in support of Government of India initiatives to reduce poverty and inequality. The Indian Government's tenth five-year plan (2002 to 2007) is the basis for development co-operation between the Indian Government and DFID, and is reflected in DFID's India Country Assistance Plan 2004 to 2008.

The tenth plan identifies equitable growth and social justice as an area of concern to be addressed through faster agricultural growth, more employment opportunities, and special programmes for the poorest groups. For agriculture, the plan focuses on food productivity, agricultural reform, investment in rural infrastructure, and incentives for crop diversification. The plan also sets targets for slow-developing states and stresses Government assistance for the poorest districts.

DFID's support for the Government of India's efforts to reduce inequality includes:

Rural livelihoods projects in three of DFID India's four focus states—Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa—to improve and diversify agricultural incomes;

Support for governance reforms to improve the effectiveness of public expenditure management, leading to the allocation of further resources targeting the poorest;

Funding for the Poorest Areas Civil Society programme, targeting the 100 poorest districts in India;

Programmes to increase health and education outcomes, and livelihoods options, that particularly target women, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes; and

Partnerships with the United Nations' Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to achieve sustainable and equitable human development.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the government of India about tackling HIV/AIDS. (93072)

DFID, through its India country office, has regular contact with the Government of India on progress in tackling the AIDS epidemic. DFID actively supports the Indian Government in its efforts to prevent HIV transmission and provide treatment and care for those infected.

India has an estimated 5.2 million people living with HIV, although prevalence is low at 0.91 per cent. The epidemic is concentrated in six high-prevalence states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland and Tamil Nadu) and is mainly transmitted through unprotected sexual behaviour or injecting drug use.

DFID in India has committed £123 million over seven years (to March 2007) in support of India's National AIDS Control Programme. DFID's support funds prevention activities in the India programme's four focal states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissaand West Bengal, and in Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh. These targeted interventions are designed to reach out to the most vulnerable groups among whom the prevalence of disease is highest (sex workers, men having sex with men, injecting drug users), through innovative programmes to contain the spread of the disease. DFID also invests in improving governmental capacity to tackle AIDS, and in mass media campaigns by the BBC World Service Trust.

DFID is currently in discussion with the Government of India on support for the next phase of the National AIDS Control Programme.