Rural Poverty in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan: Profiles and Policies (Invited Lecture)

Mahmood Hasan Khan


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.

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