In 1990, the World Bank published its World Development Report titled “Poverty.”
This report explored the various dimensions of poverty and emphasised the now-famous poverty line as a benchmark defining individuals living in extreme poverty. The poverty line represents the spending that allows people to consume a minimum basket of food and other necessities to lead a decent life.
This report brought poverty eradication to the fore of global priorities, the most notable being the Millenium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals “Agenda 2030.”
Since then, the World Bank and other organisations have developed several indicators to measure poverty, and the poverty line of $1 a day has undergone several revisions, enabling policymakers accurately capture the poorest people.
The “basic necessities” we need for a functioning life keep evolving as the world changes. While food, housing and shelter remain crucial, internet access has become indispensable.
As Indemit Gill, Chief Economist and Vice President of Development Economics at the World Bank, put it, “Internet has gone from a luxury to a necessity worldwide.” As Airtel’s popular slogan puts it, “Data is life.”
But the World Bank’s poverty line does not capture internet connectivity's increasingly vital role in our everyday lives.