Meghalaya is second worst in the country on poverty according to NITI Aayog but the public relations machine in the government has managed to find some positives amid the gloom.
NITI Aayog recently released its second edition of the national Multi- dimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which assesses poverty by considering various indicators related to health, education and standard of living.
According to the report, Meghalaya ranked second from the bottom, only ahead of Bihar, and performed badly in nearly every category.
However, the Planning Department today said that the proportion of the population that is multi-dimensionally poor in Meghalaya has fallen to 27.79 per cent from 32.54 per cent in the 2021 first edition. This means that 1.5 lakh people have exited multidimensional poverty in the space of two years, the department said in a press release.
The index measures performance on 12 indicators – nutrition, child and adolescent mortality, maternal health, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel use, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, assets and bank account – and the data used in the ranking is sourced from the fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).
Out of these, Meghalaya has seen an improvement in eight indicators, the release added. However, Meghalaya’s overall ranking has dropped from 24th to 26th.
“It is disheartening that the state’s performance on the index is not in sync with the accelerated implementation of several development programmes in the social and economic sector over the last five years,” the department stated.
It went on to list the various programmes and schemes that the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government launched in its 2018-23 avatars and its performance in implementing central government schemes as well.
“The reason for the current performance can be attributed to the fact that social sector indicators are sticky and there is usually a time lag between investments and results. Secondly, most of the data of NFHS-5 was collected in 2019 and the current ranking therefore does not capture the significant improvements made in the last three years,” the release stated, which is in line with how the Chief Minister recently explained the poor ranking.
In the last two years, Meghalaya has witnessed a 50 per cent reduction in maternal mortality and a 20 per cent drop in infant deaths, it was stated, while institutional deliveries have increased to 67 per cent from 58.1 per cent.
“The government continues to prioritise service delivery and making investments in the critical sector of early childhood development, health, education and basic infrastructure to enable improved performance of the state under various sustainable development goals (SDGs) and other development indicators,” the release concluded.