Looking Beyond Food, Clothing and Shelter in South Asia
Food is the most basic necessity of all. In terms of being better fed, Pakistanis consume significantly more dairy products, sugar, wheat, meat, eggs and poultry on a per capita basis than Indians, according to FAO data. Average Pakistani gets about 50% of daily calories from non-food-grain sources versus 33% for average Indians.
There is widespread hunger and malnutrition in all parts of India. India ranks 66th on the 2008 Global Hunger Index of 88 countries while Pakistan is slightly better at 61 and Bangladesh slightly worse at 70. The first India State Hunger Index (Ishi) report in 2008 found that Madhya Pradesh had the most severe level of hunger in India, comparable to Chad and Ethiopia. Four states — Punjab, Kerala, Haryana and Assam — fell in the 'serious' category. "Affluent" Gujarat, 13th on the Indian list is below Haiti, ranked 69. The authors said India's poor performance was primarily due to its relatively high levels of child malnutrition and under-nourishment resulting from calorie deficient diets.
Last year, Indian Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed acknowledged that India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement.
Speaking at a conference on "Malnutrition an emergency: what it costs the nation", she said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during interactions with the Planning Commission has described malnourishment as the "blackest mark".
"I should not compare. But countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better," she said. The conference was organized last year by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region.
According to India's Family Health Survey, almost 46 percent of children under the age of three are undernourished - an improvement of just one percent in the last seven years. This is only a shade better than Sub-Saharan Africa where about 35 percent of children are malnourished.
India has recently been described as a "nutritional weakling" by a British report.
According to Werner International, Pakistan's per capita consumption of textile fibers is about 4 Kg versus 2.8 Kg for India. Global average is 6.8 Kg and the industrialized countries' average consumption is 17 Kg per person per per year.
There is widespread homelessness in India, with a population 7 times larger than Pakistan's, with the urgent need for 72 million housing units. Pakistan, too, has a housing crisis and needs about 7 million additional housing units, according to the data presented at the World Bank Regional Conference on Housing last year.
India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country.
Lizette Burgers, chief of water and environment sanitation of the Unicef, recently said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia. A former Indian minister Mr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told the BBC that more than 65% of India's rural population defecated in the open, along roadsides, railway tracks and fields, generating huge amounts of excrement every day.
As an example, let's compare India's largest slum Dharavi with Pakistan's Orangi Town. The fact is that Orangi is nothing like Dharavi in terms of the quality of its housing or the services available to its residents. While Dharavi has only one toilet per 1440 residents and most of its residents use Mahim Creek, a local river, for urination and defecation, Orangi has an elaborate sanitation system built by its citizens. Under Orangi Pilot Project's guidance, between 1981 and 1993 Orangi residents installed sewers serving 72,070 of 94,122 houses. To achieve this, community members spent more than US$2 million of their own money, and OPP invested about US$150,000 in research and extension of new technologies. Orangi pilot project has been admired widely for its work with urban poor.
A basic indicator of healthcare is access to physicians. There are 80 doctors per 100,000 population in Pakistan versus 60 in India, according to the World Health Organization. For comparison with the developed world, the US and Europe have over 250 physicians per 100,000 people. UNDP recently reported that life expectancy at birth in Pakistan is 66.2 years versus India's 63.4 years.
India's literacy rate of 61% is well ahead of Pakistan's 50% rate. In higher education, six Indian universities have made the list of the top 400 universities published by Times Higher Education Supplement this year. Only one Pakistani university was considered worthy of such honor.
Pakistan has consistently scored lower on the HDI sub-index on education than its overall HDI index. It is obvious from the UNDP report and other sources that Pakistan's dismal record in enrolling and educating its young people, particularly girls, stands in the way of any significant positive development in the nation. The recent announcement of a new education policy that calls for more than doubling the education spending from about 3% to 7% of GDP is a step in the right direction. However, money alone will not solve the deep-seated problems of poor access to education, rampant corruption and the ghost schools that only exist on paper, that have simply lined the pockets of corrupt politicians and officials. Any additional money allocated must be part of a broader push for transparent and effective delivery of useful education to save the people from the curses of poverty, ignorance and extremism which are seriously hurting the nation.
In spite of deficiency in education, how is it that Pakistanis can maintain better standards of living in terms of food, clothing, shelter, sanitation and healthcare than their neighbor India? The first answer is that, according to the 2009 UN Human and Income Poverty Report, the people living under $1.2 a day in India is 41.6 percent, about twice as much as Pakistan's 22.6 percent. The second answer can be found in the fact that Pakistanis' real per capita incomes are actually higher than reported by various agencies. The most recent real per capita income data was calculated and reported by Asian Development Bank based on a detailed study of a list of around 800 household and nonhousehold products in 2005 and early 2006 to compare real purchasing power for ADB's trans-national income comparison program (ICP). The ICP concluded that Pakistan had the highest per capita income at HK$ 13,528 among the largest nations in South Asia. It reported India’s per capita as HK $12,090.
Clearly, the status of an average Indian is not only worse than an average Pakistani's, the abject deprivation in India is comparable to the nations in sub-Saharan Africa. However, Pakistanis do need to worry about their woefully inadequate state of education and literacy. They must find a way to develop the skills, grow the economy and create opportunities for their growing young population. As Pakistan's former finance minister Salman Shah recently told the wall Street Journal, "Pakistan has to be part of globalization or you end up with Talibanization. Until we put these (Pakistan's) young people into industrialization and services, and off-farm work, they will drift into this negative extremism; there is nothing worse than not having a job." Unless Pakistanis heed Shah's advice, there is real danger that Pakistan will slip into total chaos and violence, endangering the entire nation in the foreseeable future.
To summarize, this post has discussed six different indicators of life in any nation: Availability of food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, health care and education. The published data that I have shared with you shows that PAKISTAN IS AHEAD OF INDIA IN FIVE OF THE SIX INDICATORS. In education, however, Pakistan is marginally behind India, which itself suffers from low levels of literacy and wide gender gap resulting in very poor showing on the UNDP HDI this year, and in prior years. In fact, India dropped six places on the world rankings from a low of 128 to an even lower 134. Unfortunately, Pakistan has also slipped three ranks on the list, down from 138 to 141, mainly due to its deficit in literacy and gender discrimination.
Population living under $1.25 a day - India: 41.6% Pakistan: 22.6% Source: UNDP
Underweight Children Under Five (in percent) Pakistan 38% India 46% Source: UNICEF
Life expectancy at birth (years), 2007 India: 63.4 Pakistan: 66.2 Source: HDR2009
Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, male Pakistan: 80% India 87% Source: UNICEF
Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, female Pakistan 60% India 77% Source: UNICEF
GDP per capita (US$), 2008 Pak:$1000-1022 India $1017-1100
Child marriage under 15-years ; 1998–2007*, total Pakistan - 32% India - 47% Source: UNICEF
Under-5 mortality rate per 1000 live births (2007), Value Pakistan - 90 India 72 Source: UNICEF
Syeda Hamida of Indian Planning Commission Says India Worse Than Pakistan and Bangladesh
Global Hunger Index Report 2009
Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India
Food, Clothing and Shelter For All
India's Family Health Survey
Hunger and Undernutrition Blog
Pakistan's Total Sanitation Campaign
Is India a Nutritional Weakling?
Asian Gains in World's Top Universities
South Asia Slipping in Human Development
What Does Democracy Deliver in Pakistan
Do South Asian Slums Offer Hope?