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Inside Story

Building BRICS for the poor?

We ask if booming Global South economies are doing enough to alleviate the suffering of the downtrodden.

Last Modified: 13 Apr 2013 14:19
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The world economy is being driven by a new set of powers, not in Europe or the United States, but in the Global South.

"It is perfectly possible for countries who actually have very low aggregate levels of wealth - for instance Malawi where the average income is $870 per annum - in these contexts it is possible to still be committed to do something about these problems whereas countries with much higher income levels and with much bigger growth levels don't necessarily take these steps."

- Dolf Te Lintelo, Institute of Development Studies fellow 

They are known as the BRICS countries and its members are: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. With the possible exception of Russia, the BRICS members are all developing or newly industrialised countries, but they are distinguished by their large, fast-growing economies.

While they may be booming, some of the world's fastest-growing economies are nevertheless failing to improve people's lives. That is the assessment from the Institute of Development Studies, in a new report published on Thursday.

Researchers developed an index to measure a country's commitment to tackling hunger.

Leading the pack were some of the world's poorest countries - like Malawi, Guatemala and Madagascar - while economic powerhouses China, India and South Africa were among the worst performers overall.

In South Africa, for example, the white population earn six times more than their black counterparts. Two-thirds of South African youth also live in poor households.

Critics say government reforms have not reached the poorest of the poor. Many South Africans remain economically disenfranchised despite the country's growth.

"What is the point of having impressive economic numbers if growth and development is not sustainable at the grassroots levels? There are so many urban as well as rural poor in India who are struggling on a day-to-day basis while it's just about a few million Indians doing well. Is that enough for India? I would say no."

- Sourav Roy, Asia affairs analyst

Meanwhile, of the one billion people who live in poverty globally, 40 percent are in India.

India cut poverty levels only by 1.2 percent between 1999 and 2006. And according to the report, it will only reduce poverty in 41 years if current trends continue.

The report says countries including Rwanda, Nepal, and Bangladesh are tackling poverty better than India. The World Bank has proposed a four year multibillion dollar plan to help the country.

So, why are millions still stuck in poverty while their governments post record growth?

To discuss this, Inside Story with presenter Hazem Sika is joined by guests: Haru Mutasa, Al Jazeera's correspondent in South Africa; Dolf Te Lintelo, a fellow at the Institute of Development Studies; Sourav Roy, an Asia affairs analyst and columnist at the Huffington Post; and Jon Lomoy, director of development cooperation at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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