Here's an extract from an email from a friend, Salil Tripathi on Indian Growth Rates and Poverty Levels who got this list from here. Since I frequently have to refer to them and also get inquired about them, here's a great list! (Thanks to Salil and Churumuri!)
According to the estimates from the population division of the dept of econ and soc affairs at the UN Secretariat, in 2003 (the latest year for which those stats were available), the number of Indians who earn less than 40 rupees a day is 380.6 million.
This article shows how people live on $1/day:
What we do know is that the number of poor has declined drastically in India in the last 15 years, by them becoming less poor. Javier Sala-i-Martin, the Columbia professor who is one of the experts on counting poverty figures and statistical analyses, has said that global inequality has not worsened because of China's and India's growth, but can worsen, if Africa does not become part of the globalisation process. Here's the link to his NBER (Natl Buro of Econ Research) work.
At the risk of quoting myself, here's what I said, in response to Pankaj Mishra's pessimism, in a debate with him in the Guardian in 2006:
To put Indian growth in perspective: when it grew at 7.5% last year, India's income rose by an amount higher than the total income of Portugal ($194 billion), Norway ($183 billion), or Denmark ($178 billion) that year. It was the equivalent of adding a rich country's economy to a very poor one. More important, India has reduced the number of people living in abject poverty, even though its population has increased significantly. Once again, facts: In 1991, 36% of India's 846 million people, or a little over 304 million people, lived on less than one dollar a day, the measure economists at the World Bank use to define absolute poverty. That number - of 304 million people - represented possibly the highest-ever agglomeration of poor people in the world in one country at any time. Ten years later, the proportion of India's poorest dropped to 26% - a decline not only of 10 percentage points, but also in absolute terms. By 2006, India's population had risen to 1.02 billion people. If the proportion of poor is still at 26%, it means 267 million people now lived in absolute poverty. What it also means is that even though India added 156 million more people to its population during that decade - a figure combining the total populations of Britain, France and Spain put together - during that period, the number of poor people in India actually fell by 37 million, or the size of Poland. Had the poverty level remained the same, there would have been 361 million poor in India. Instead, the Indian economy had lifted 94 million people out of absolute poverty during that period - that's 12 million more people than the entire population of Germany, the most populous state in the European Union. Such growth would simply have not happened if India had not put in place macroeconomic changes in 1991.
But this data tends to be WILDLY speculative: Here's one compilation of the number of Indians who earn less than $1 a day:
90 per cent: The Asian Development Bank said two years ago that “at least 90 percent of people” live on less than $1 a day in India, China and some Southeast Asian countries.
77 per cent: The columnist Praful Bidwai said in Bangalore this week that 77 per cent of the population lives on less than Rs. 20 a day, or half a dollar.
54 per cent: In May this year, Newsweek reported that in 1985, 93 per cent of India’s population lived on less than $1 per day; by 2005, it was 54 per cent.
52.5 per cent: The Washington Post, quoting the same World Bank, said in August 1997 that 52.5 per cent of Indians earned less than $1 a day.
50 per cent: Ramtanu Maitra wrote in Executive Intelligence Review in December 2006 that 450 million Indians (or a little less than 50 per cent) lived below the World Bank’s old definition of $1 per day per persion, and that 700 million Indians (or almost 70 per cnet) lived below the poverty line based on the World bank’s new definition of a minimum earning of $2 per day per person.
Nearly 50 per cent: Seven years ago, Mary Motta asked if India should be so hung up on a moon mission when nearly half of its population lives below the poverty line.
33 per cent: Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad writes in the latest issue of Prospect that 300 million Indians (roughly 33 per cent) live on less than $1 a day
33 per cent: The International Herald Tribune, quoting the World Bank, said in Janaury 2006 that one in three earn less than $1 a day, i.e. 33 per cent.
30 per cent: The Christian Science Monitor, quoting the Indian census, says 30 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day; 78 percent on less than $2.
26 per cent: Social anthropologist Diana Wells, quoting the 2001 census, wrote in 2001 that the number of people who earned $1 a day had declined from 36 per cent to 26 per cent.
25 per cent: Xinhua news agency, quoting India’s minister for rural development and poverty alleviation, reported in 2002 that 260.25 million people earned less than $1 a day, which was a marked decline from 1993- 94, when 320 million people were below the poverty line.
25 per cent: Union Minister P. Chidambaram told Charlie Rose two years ago that the number of Indians earning less than $1 a day was 250 million, or slightly short of 25 per cent of the population.
20 per cent: A World Food Prize winning high school essay pegged the number of people earning less than $1 a day at 200,000,000 or 200 million, or a fifth of the population , i.e. 20 per cent.
What this tells us is this: there is a HUGE number of people in India living in abject poverty and misery. That number is declining, but not fast enough.