THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Rural Poverty in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan: Profiles and Policies (Invited Lecture)
The Bangladesh – India – Pakistan subcontinent has about one billion people or one-fifth of the world’s population. A majority of the subcontinent’s people live in rural areas and depend directly or indirectly on agriculture and related pursuits. The highly differentiated rural population includes a large proportion of the poor in the three countries. Their differentiated structure is based on (a) control of land through right of ownership and usufruct, and (b) employment opportunities for the labour power and its wages .. Absolute poverty afflicts nearly 60 percent of the rural population in Bangladesh,40 percent in India and 35 percent in Pakistan. The major causes of rural poverty are (a) landlessness and (b) lack of adequate employment (including low real wages) in or outside agriculture. Both these factors are responsible for keeping the poor consigned to low “entitlements” to income and commodities. The growth of the economy in general, and of agriculture in particular, has not produced the “trickle-down” effects large enough to counter the basic causes of persistent and high levels of rural poverty.