Health and Well-being


Start: 2018-01-01
End: 2022-12-31

Health and well-being

Sustained growth, access to basic facilities and higher wages has meant better lives for Indians. As measured by the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) published by UNDP and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, the incidence of multidimensional poverty shows that India halved its MPI value in the ten years leading to 2016, with approximately 273 million people pulled out of multidimensional poverty.

Government of India is committed to poverty eradication. It is central to Prime Minister’s vision for India, revealed in his address to the nation on the 75th Independence Day. The PM has noted that poverty eradication “remains the greatest unfinished business of the 20th century”.


Despite these impressive numbers, inequality remains a core challenge to the Indian growth agenda. Tackling poverty, inequality and rapid urbanisation in India remains critical to the achievement worldwide of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

India ranks 131 out 189 countries on HDI as per the 2020 Global Human Development Report published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

While there has been remarkable progress in increasing incomes at the national level, income inequality is growing across the states. The Government, to address spatial inequality has identified 115 aspirational districts for concerted focus to improve attainments in the areas of education, health, nutrition, basic infrastructure such as rural road connectivity, rural household electrification, access to potable water and individual toilets.



India has seen tremendous urban progress. It is estimated that by 2030, more than 400 million people will be living in cities in India. Cities occupy 3 percent of land but the contribution to India’s gross domestic product is a huge 60 per cent. Growth of cities has been beneficial for overall poverty reduction in India, with urban growth accounting for about 80 percent of the total fall in poverty.



Urban growth is mired in challenges. The 2011 census reveals 475 urban agglomerations, up from 384 in 2001, and 7,935 towns, as opposed to 2,774 towns in 2001. With close to 20 million migrants moving from rural to urban areas every year, combined with intrinsic population growth inside urban areas, India’s explosive urban growth is expected to continue. The urban share of India’s population was around 31 per-cent according to the 2011 census and is expected to cross 40 percent by 2030. While bringing a range of economic benefits, such rapid urbanisation has brought with it enormous challenges, most notice-ably in the form of demand-supply gaps in housing, infrastructure, and services.

The pandemic has only deepened existing inequalities and reversed the success achieved in poverty reduction worldwide. The COVID-induced new poor in 2020 are estimated to be between 119 and 124 million.

Caption: © UNICEF


Government initiatives

Enabling transformation will require investing in all-inclusive solutions to education, financial inclusion, welfare, and employment challenges that confront the poor in rural and urban areas. To meet this exponential demand and set the ball rolling for sustaining equitable and inclusive urban development and reducing poverty – the government has launched a series of flagship initiatives – Housing for All, Atal Mission for Urban Rejuvenation and Transformation (AMRUT), Smart Cities Mission, Digital India campaign, Jan Dhan Yojana and Make in India.

Recent reforms initiated by the prime minister have helped increase foreign investment, contributing to a stimulating environment for business; India’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report improved from 71 in 2014 to 40 in 2017. Policies for financial and digital inclusion of people living in rural areas have also shown an equalising effect. The government’s initiative to link bank accounts, mobile numbers, and national identification numbers (JAM or the Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile trinity) has contributed to substantial advances in financial inclusion. A flagship initiative for universal banking coverage, PM’s Jan Dhan Yojana, was launched to ensure that every Indian has a bank account, enabling the government to transfer subsidies and other benefits directly to the target beneficiaries and plug leakages in its welfare programmes.

To support recovery from COVID induced poverty, the Prime Minister announced Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package in 2020 and extended in 2021. The package intended to reach the poor to enable them to tide over food shortage and money shortage during lockdowns and employment loss.

Caption: © UNICEF

UN's support  

United Nations Development Programme convenes this priority area group on poverty reduction and urbanisation, members of which include International Labour Organisation, International Organisation for Migration, United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UN Capital Development Fund, UN Environment Programme, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, United Nations Population Fund, UN Habitat, UNICEF, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UN Volunteers, UN Women, World Food Programme, and World Health Organisation.

The UN system supports the on-going efforts for poverty reduction and sustainable urbanisation with the following expected results:

Towards poverty reduction

  • More integrated, people-centred planning and implementation of programmes at state and local levels
  • Increased access for vulnerable and marginalised communities to information about legal rights and opportunities
  • More integrated social protection system, including for health, to address risks and vulnerabilities across different stages of the life cycle
  • Improved access for vulnerable and marginalised communities to quality basic services and infra-structure, including affordable and accessible housing
  • Increased access to social and health services including sexual and reproductive health and family planning services, especially for poor and marginalised communities
  • Increased provision of innovative, digital service delivery solutions, and on-line services, including single point of access to services and entitlements
  • Increased access to and ownership of economic assets such as land and housing for vulnerable and marginalised communities, especially women
Photo: © UNDP

Towards sustainable urbanisation

  • Strengthened institutional frameworks to ensure sustainable urbanisation as well as the delivery of basic social and health services, particularly to the urban poor and slum dwellers
  • Increased access to practical, demand-driven, and customised capacity building programs and opportunities for urban legislative and planning bodies, including for resource mobilisation and stronger budgeting and accounting practices
  • Upgraded infrastructure in growing urban centres, including sewerage and solid waste management, adequate water supply, reuse of storm water and treated effluents, and transportation and mobility
  • Enhanced use of digital technology for smart city planning for improving the quality of governance and public services
  • Increased skilled employment opportunities in the construction and manufacturing sectors, including through public and private investment in infrastructure and housing
  • Enhanced participation of women and girls in public and economic life through safer homes, communities, transportation services, and workplaces
  • A national strategy and plan of action on adequate housing that includes building or providing low-cost rental housing units, especially for the disadvantaged and low-income groups, including those living in slums, in line with target 11.1 of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda

Goals we are supporting through this initiative

Background Documents