India has a population of more than 1.25 billion people. It is a country of huge inequalities, with the second-largest number of billionaires in the world but also 25 per cent of the world’s poor. 30 per cent of the population, 224 million people, live on less than 1.9 dollars per day.
Over the last five years, India has seen impressive economic growth. Even during the global recession in 2009, the economy grew at a rate of 7 per cent of GDP. But the richest 1% own 58% of the country’s wealth and the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider.
India has the 18th highest prevalence of stunting , 38.7% among children under five, of 137 countries included in the 2016 Global Nutrition Report. Under five mortality has reduced from 126 per thousand to 48.
Many of India’s inequalities are tied to gender and caste: women and girls still face multiple discrimination and India ranks 136 out of 186 countries in the United Nations Gender Inequality Index. The caste system, which dates back many thousands of years, is still extremely important in everyday life, with what the Government calls Scheduled Castes (otherwise known as Dalits or formerly ‘untouchables’) and Scheduled Tribes (otherwise known as adivasis, India’s indigenous peoples) the most disadvantaged communities. This is despite the fact that discrimination on the basis of caste is now illegal, and various measures have been introduced to empower disadvantaged groups and give them better access to opportunities.
Andhra Pradesh, one of the largest states in India, was formed in 1956 bringing together three regions – Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema, and Telangana. With Telangana formally becoming the twenty-ninth Indian state in June 2014, Andhra Pradesh now has 13 districts and a population of 52.4 million. The new state of Telangana has 31 districts and population of 32.2 million. Hyderabad, located in Telanagana but currently the shared capital of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for the next ten years, is the biggest city housing 9% of the population of the two states.
As a frontrunner in bringing economic reforms in the country, (united) Andhra Pradesh has been a historical role model for several government initiatives in reducing poverty. The state government not only ushered in a number of social protection measures but also institutionalised accountability through social audit for better and more transparent governance.
The state was quick to adopt a multifold strategy in eradicating poverty. It augmented some of the existing central government schemes, such as the Midday Meal Scheme, and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme with state-specific programmes such as active promotion of self-help women’s groups, the pallavala vaddi (interest subsidies on loans by self-help groups), the Girl Child Protection scheme and others.
Andhra Pradesh now occupies the top slot in the country in terms of the growth rate of gross state domestic product (GSDP) with most recent reports showing it stood first with 10.99% growth in GSDP for 2015-16.The GSDP of Telangana has grown at 9.2 per cent at constant prices during 2015-16. However youth unemployment is one of the major concerns, especially in urban areas. Among the 15-29 years age group, the unemployment rate is estimated to be at 7.7 per cent (3.8 per cent in rural areas and 17.2 per cent in the urban areas).