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International Issues
P O V E R T Y : U K

It's poor in English
Human development? Who cares

   The sun finally seems to have set in British Empire. In the citadel of capitalism and affluence, the third worldly phenomenon of poverty and deprivation exists in gigantic proportions. It is estimated that about 13 million people constituting about 17% (in 2002-03) of the population lived in poverty in Britain. While the poverty estimation in Britain is ranked at the level of households where the weekly income is below 201, rSearching for the lost future....esearches suggest that about 9.2% of Britain's population earn less than 168 while about 4.6% earn less than 134 a week. It is contended that more than the poverty rate, it is the intensity of poverty that gives the accurate picture of the deprivation in Britain.

The sections affected by poverty are varied. The Economic and Social Council contends that its victim is mostly the children, women, single parents, pensioners and the expatriate population. The UN's HDR contends that in 2002-03, 21% of total child population (about 2.6 million children) and about 67% of the Pakistanis and Bangladeshi lived in poverty.

The reasons are as varied as the poverty demographics. Skewed policies initiated by the government have resulted in widening the gap. Distinctly pro-rich growth pattern has led to a condition where the richest 10% of the population receive about 28% of disposable income. Similarly, the mean annual income of the richest one-fifth has increased about ten folds the rate of the poorest one fifth.

The poverty estimates have remained the same during the 1970s and 1980s, however it peaked in the 1990s. For the same time period, Gini co-efficient (reflecting inequality in a society) surged ahead from 25 to 35, which were the highest in world.

The requirement then is to combine the employment generation with wider economic pursuits for determining income distribution patterns. Poverty alleviation might be an anathema to the western world, but internal configuration of their society shows that they remain iniquitous and unfair.

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