According to a study released today, financial difficulties caused by last year’s coronavirus pandemic have driven about 32 million Indians out of the middle class, undoing years of economic gains, while employment losses have pushed millions into poverty.
According to the Pew Research Centre in the United States, the number of Indians in the middle class, or those receiving between $10 and $20 (Rs700-Rs1,400) per day, has shrunk by around 32 million, relative to the number that might have been reached in the absence of the pandemic.
The middle class has shrunk to 66 million people, down a third from a pre-pandemic estimate of 99 million, according to the study.
“India is estimated to have seen a greater decrease in the middle class and a much sharper rise in poverty than China in the COVID-19 downturn,” the Pew Research Centre said, citing the World Bank’s forecasts of economic growth.
Nearly 57 million people had joined the middle income group between 2011 and 2019, the study added.