Stumbling economy has one in every four Indian distressed: poll

More Indians are feeling the gloom of a faltering economy, a global poll has suggested, with as many as one in every four rating their lives poorly enough to be classified as ‘suffering’. “Suffering” has more than doubled in recent years as Indians begin to have a grim outlook on the

future as well, according to US-based research firm Gallup’s report. The firm interviewed 5,000 adult Indians in 2012 as part of a total of 230,083 people surveyed across the world.

“Average suffering in India more than doubled between 2006 to 2008 and 2010 to 2012. In 2012, a full quarter of Indians were suffering,” Gallup’s statement said.

The research firm classified respondents to the survey as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering” according to how they rated their current lives and future prospects on a scale of zero to 10.

The trend had a ripple effect across South Asia — which led the world in suffering — owing to India’s strong economic ties with its neighbours, research firm Gallup said in a statement.

“The significant deterioration in Indians’ wellbeing is likely to be rooted in the country’s disappointing economic performance,” the statement added.

Economic growth sunk from 9.4% in the first quarter of 2010 to 4.4% in the second quarter of 2013, the worst quarterly rate since 2002 and data on Friday is expected to show growth still below 5%, despite efforts by the scandal-tainted
Union government to revive the economy.

According to Gallup, suffering on average has increased worldwide in recent years. As many as 14% rated their lives poorly enough to be considered suffering in 2012, up from 11% in 2006-08.

South Asia topped the regions for suffering, with the Balkans, Middle East and North Africa tied for second-place with 21%.

“Suffering in the (South Asian) region has increased enormously since the beginning of the global financial crisis, averaging 12% between 2006 and 2008, and 22% between 2010 and 2012,” Gallup said.

Gallup said the poll’s margin of error was less than one percentage point.

Australia and New Zealand were the countries considered most thriving, with just 2% of their population seen as suffering.

The survey comes after a political row in India over how to accurately measure poverty, with the government issuing figures in August showing poverty has been slashed by a third since 2004.

The government said 138 million Indians had emerged from poverty between the fiscal years 2004/05 and 2011/12, leaving the official number of poor at 269 million.

The World Bank in a recent report said India has the greatest share of the world’s poorest — one-third living on $1.25 a day or less — or 400 million.