India has one of the world's fastest growing economies, however over 400 million people still live on less than $1.25 a day. The country has a burgeoning urban middle class, but the vast masses of rural populations remain impoverished.

Crowd of Indian women 
Key facts:
  • Programs


  • Partners


  • Population


  • Extreme poverty

    Living on less than $1.25 a day:

  • Data sources 

India: the facts

Poverty, malnutrition, overpopulation (India covers 2.4 percent of the world’s surface but over 17 percent of its population), environmental pollution and gender discrimination combine to create widespread health and social problems.

As much as half of the world’s hungry live in India and 33 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty, 35 percent of the population suffer from malnutrition and 46 percent of children are underweight. As well, just 22 percent of the rural population have access to adequate sanitation facilities.

Malaria, dengue fever, tuberculosis, measles and diarrhea are the leading cause of death among children. However, leprosy and polio have almost been eradicated.

Just 63 percent of adults in India can read and write.

India has at least 600,000 internally displaced people, mainly in Kashmir, and approximately 180,000 refugees from Tibet, Sri Lanka, Myanmar/Burma and Afghanistan.

With 70 percent of India’s population relying on agriculture or rural employment for their livelihoods, economic and social development (although rapid) is unequal and this gap continues to grow.

India’s economic growth, however, has funded significant improvement in education, basic health and essential infrastructure. In 2003 and 2009, for example, the number of children not attending school dropped from 25 million to 8 million. While transport and communication infrastructure has undergone massive modernisation. 

Our work in India

Caritas Australia supports 8 programs through our local partner, Caritas India. The programs cover a variety of issues including food security, sustainable agriculture, and HIV/AIDs awareness and prevention.

The discovery of large quantities of coal in Chhattisgarh State has placed local populations at risk of being displaced from their land. This development has the potential to affect the direction of Caritas’ work in India.

Examples of our recent work

  1. Caritas Australia’s Facilitating Agricultural Regeneration Measures (FARM) program provided counselling and friendship to 1,711 people who were suffering from chronic illnesses, had attempted suicide or were suicide prone.
  2. 16.5 hectares of wasteland has been turned into cultivatable land in Chattisghard, India. 140 families subsequently benefited from increased land productivity and agricultural production.

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