MDGs, Poverty, and Malnutrition: The Role of Social Inclusion

IIDS Vision: To help develop a Socially Inclusive Society in
its Economy, Polity, Governance and Development
MDGs, Poverty and Malnutrition:
Role of ‘Social Belonging’
Nidhi S Sabharwal
Director, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS),
New Delhi
Panel Discussion: Impact and the Global South
Human Rights and Economic Justice
Essential Elements of the Post-MDG Agenda
October 18-20, 2013,
Yale University
Poverty & Malnutrition in India, 1993-2010
• Between 1993 and 2010, the incidence of poverty in India declined
across social & economic groups.
• In absolute terms, growth has been pro-poor (Martin Ravallion)
• However, decline was lower for SCs, STs and wage-labour
Human Development Indicators/MDGs for SC, ST
• Similarly, the rate of improvement for the SCs and the STs has been
lower than the rest of the population for:
– Infant Mortality Rates, Child Mortality Rates and U5MR
– Full immunization
– Maternal Health Indicators: Ante-Natal Care, Birth in a health facility,
Birth attended by a skilled personnel and Post Natal care
– Proportion of houses in rural areas having no drinking water facility,
– Proportion of houses in rural areas having no latrine facility
– Proportion of houses in rural areas having open, katcha (make-shift)
and no drainage arrangements
•  Literacy rates: the gap is reducing. The improvement in literacy
rates for the SCs and the STs is more than for others.
•  - Drop-out rates continue to be high.
Why Poverty is high amongst the excluded groups
and persists?
• Common (group-wide) factors of poverty and deprivation:
– Landlessness; Poor access to capital
– Unemployment; Low levels of education & skill
– Poor health status
– Under-representation in governance
• However, poor are not uniformly disadvantaged. In case of the
discriminated groups, there are ‘Group-Specific’ factors of poverty
and deprivation that relates to denial of equal rights and entitlement.
• E.g., Denial of equal rights and entitlement due to caste based
discrimination and notion of untouchability, manifests itself in the
following forms:
– Complete exclusion relates to complete denial of opportunities,,
– ‘Differential Inclusion’ on differential terms and conditions on
rights and entitlement.
– ‘Differential Behavior’ related to ‘dignity’ and ‘humiliation’
Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS)
Studies on ‘Exclusion-Induced’ Deprivation
Evidence on market and non-market discrimination associated with
caste and untouchability faced by the ‘Scheduled Castes’
•Discrimination in Market Transactions:
Non-farm producers
Labor: rural and urban
Rental Market
•Discrimination in Non-Market Transactions:
– Education
– Health
– Anti-Poverty Programs
Research Methods
• A combination of qualitative & quantitative research techniques are
employed to collect data on forms and processes pertaining to
• Discrimination as a practice is deeply embedded within social
relations, so it is crucial to adopt techniques for information
collection that captures the forms, processes and consequences.
– Quantitative methods through household questionnaires and
questionnaires for service providers: Questionnaire that captures
access and various forms.
– Qualitative methods through Focus Group discussions, Case Studies,
Observation method which captures the process and consequence.
Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS)
Discrimination in Market Transactions: Farmers
• Input market: Restrictions faced by the Scheduled Caste cultivators
in access to services of human or bullock labor; Agricultural
implements (tractor); Manure; Irrigation.
– High-caste persons regard it as below their dignity to work for wages in
the fields of low-caste landowners, or to provide them the services of
their bullocks and implements/ tractors.
– Water for irrigation not available on time.
• Agricultural produce of SC farmers is considered to be ‘polluted’ by
the upper castes (due to notion of ‘untouchability’).
– Limited market access for SC farmers, especially within their own village
– SC farmers rely mostly on the local agents or markets outside the
village, where their identity is not known,
– Often, SC sellers are dependent on members of their own caste as
– Result: adds to their transportation and labor costs, reducing net
Thorat, Mahamallik, Sadana (2010), Caste and Rural Market, in Sukhadeo Thorat and Katherine
4/8/2015 S. Newman (eds), Blocked by Caste: Economic Discrimination in Modern India, OUP
NSSO Farmer Study – Differences in Farm Income
Controlling for the technological aspect of farming:
SC households had the lowest average net income per hectare of Rs.
12,906 while Upper Caste households had higher average net income per
hectare of Rs. 15,547 (20.5 percent higher than the SC households).
Lesser access to farm technology explained 63 per cent of the fact that the
SC farmers have a lower net income per hectare as compared to upper
caste households.
The remaining 37 per cent remains unexplained; can be attributed to
discrimination – ‘discrimination induced loss of net income per hectare’ as
compared to upper caste households (Rs. 974 out of Rs. 2,641).
Thorat and Sabharwal (2013), Agricultural Productivity in India: Does Caste Matter? FAO
and IIDS Report
Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS)
Caste and Labor Market
Discrimination in hiring, wages and terms & conditions of employment
Exclusion in agricultural operations – harvesting of fruits and vegetables
Exclusion in non-farm work – house construction, social ceremonies,
Exclusion of Untouchables is in various types of household work
Low participation of SC cooks and helpers in Mid-Day Meal government
program as compared to HC
Gap in employment days: Average employment for wage labour: 108 days;
for SC: 100 days; for high-caste: 154 days.
Gap in wage rates: Average wage was about Rs.33 per day. The wage
received by SC Rs. 30 as compared with Rs 34 per day for HC casual
Thorat, Mahamallik, Sadana (2010), Caste and Rural Market, in Sukhadeo Thorat and Katherine S.
Newman (eds), Blocked by Caste: Economic Discrimination in Modern India, OUP
Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS)
Urban Labor Market Discrimination
• Matched Resume Audit Study: 4,808 applications made to answer
548 job advertisements over 66 weeks.
• Applicants with an SC name were on average significantly less likely
to have a positive application outcome than equivalently qualified
applicants with a higher caste name.
• Appropriately qualified applicant with an SC name had odds of a
positive outcome that were 0.67 of the odds of an equivalently
qualified applicant with a higher caste name.
(Thorat and Newman: Blocked by Caste, 2010, Oxford University
Study of experiences of SC children in School
UNICEF&IIDS Study (2010)
Image source: Thorat and Sabharwal 'Untouchable' in the classroom, The Globe and Mail, Published Monday, Dec. 05 2011
Access to Mid-Day Meal Program in Schools
• High participation rate to Mid-Day Meal Program
‘Unfair Inclusion’:
• Insufficient quantities of food
• Separate seating arrangement for Dalit children during meals
• Dalit or low-caste children are served from ‘contact-safe’ distance,
• SC children required to bring plates from home, while others are not
• Higher caste children get food served first
• Being punished for asking to be served first
• Serving on plates made of leaves, and,
• Dalit children not given responsibility to serve food
• Even for identical groups: Likelihood of SC children being
malnourished 1.4 times that of children from the GC (when
controlled for income, education of the mother, health services etc.)
Dreze and Goyal (2003), Thorat and Lee, 2010; Sabharwal and Diwakar, 2012
Thorat and Sabharwal (2012): India Health Beat-PHFI and World Bank
Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS)
Maternal Health: Pre-Natal, Child Birth and PostNatal Care
•Health care-workers are often from a ‘higher caste’; visit SC houses
less frequently
•Avoid calling for the monthly meeting/ health and nutrition days
•ANMs drop IFA tablets into the hands of SCs from a distance
•Avoid touching the SC children during weighing and immunization
•Clean the child themselves as the service providers refused to touch
the child
•Lack of transport at the time of birth to reach health facility as
compared to the rest.
Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS)
Maternal Health continued…
• A higher proportion of birth at home without trained attendant than
the rest; Dependence on Private care; Out-of-pocket expenses to
give birth in a health facility were higher for SC mothers (Rs. 1555)
as compared to Higher Caste mothers (Rs. 1309): IIDS Study of 7
states, All India Dalit Women Movement, Dalit Women Speak-Out,
• There are differences in the longevity as measured by ‘Age at
death’. The average age of death of dalit women, at 39.5 yrs, was
nearly fifteen years less than that of non-SC/ST women (Borooha,
Sabharwal, Thorat, 2010)
Exclusion-Induced Deprivation
• Thus, evidence on market and non-market discrimination associated
with caste and untouchability faced by ‘Scheduled Castes’
– negatively affected transactional outcomes for excluded groups
in the markets for goods & services and,
– in ‘non-market’ transactions (mainly, public services), the
excluded groups also fared poorly on account of ‘treatment’ from
service providers that kept them from receiving a ‘fair’ level of
• Parents from the scheduled caste group indicated that
discriminatory treatment at school affects children’s food
intake & ‘dignity’; they felt ‘humiliated’, lost interest in studies
and in school itself.
– Forms of discrimination vary across transactional areas/spheres;
not uniform.
Policy Approach
• Exclusion-Induced Deprivation: Reason for slower
improvements in human development amongst the
excluded group and continuing disparities.
Policy Recommendations:
• A combination of anti-poverty policies and affirmative
action policies to safeguard against discrimination and
for ensuring equitable access to market and non-market
Research Impact on Policies
•Inputs to the 11th and 12th National Plan document, which focused on
“Inclusive Growth”, with regards to the approach for excluded groups
•New regulations in education that prohibit discrimination (2012); 7000
Universities, 40,000 colleges and lakhs of schools
•Sensitizing & training of teachers through modules and workshops;
•Administrative guidelines to Village Councils that monitor anti-poverty
•Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavenging Act, 2012
•Strengthening SC Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub Plan in the education
•Affirmative Action Program developed by the Private Sector
Strategies of the UN & International Organizations
Department For International Development, U.K.
– DFID’s policy on Poverty and Social Exclusion
– Implementation of a large civil society program for poorest regions with a focus
on excluded communities.
GOI–FAO Country Programme Framework (2013–17) for agriculture and rural
development to includes commitment on:
– ‘developing strategies for better access to input and output markets for the small
and marginal farmers from disadvantaged groups’(p9); and
– ‘mainstreaming disaggregation of data on caste-based parameters into
programming, monitoring, evaluation and reportage across all verticals of support
to rural production and development activities’ (p9).
UNDP: IIDS’ research for UNDP on ‘Socially Inclusive Growth’ has helped to develop
strategy in funding the Government of India’s policies on pro-poor growth.
World Bank Country Policy: The research work on malnutrition has been accepted
by the World Bank to be placed on their website and kept for wider circulation.
MDGs Post-2015 replacement efforts: Recommend Combination of Universal &
Affirmative Action Policies, Non-Discrimination a ‘Right’ so that ‘No one is left behind’
from achieving full human development with dignity.
Research to Policy Strategy
Writing in
domain Media
support to
Publication of
seminars of
One to one
with decisionmakers
in Decision
Seminars with
the Policy
• Under-researched area in Social Sciences in India
• Limited existing theoretical, conceptual frameworks and
methodologies to draw from, hence, it takes time.
• Require large sample-size in field-based studies to unpack
economic & social relations and processes.
• Research-to-Policy influence/ impact is a long process
• At times is very difficult; Some consensus on ‘forms’ of
discrimination, but disagreement on ‘extent’ and ‘reasons’ or
•To evolve a fairer economic and social outcome for all, we
need to ensure that the knowledge generated reaches the
decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders.
The challenge calls for continuous engagement
….. And we choose to never give up!
Thank you!