Aglobal anti-poverty campaign saw some 38 million people, one-third of whom were Indians, turning up and asking governments around the world to keep their promise to cut poverty and hunger in half, shattering a world record.
The “Stand Up, Speak Out” campaign is part of the United Nations’ efforts to promote the Millennium Development Goals. India witnessed the largest turnout, with approximately 13.8 million people joining 20,000 events around the country, chiefly in states such as Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which have high poverty and hunger rates, according to campaign representatives.
People taking a pledge during the ‘Stand Up, Speak Out’ anti-poverty campaign in New Delhi
“It wasn’t policymakers and the powerful who came out for this. It was villagers and common people. This shows that the everyday people are willing to hold the government accountable when it comes to its Millennium Development Goals promises,” Minar Pimple, deputy director (Asia) for the UN initiative, said over telephone.
Asia alone broke the Guinness Book of World Records mark of 23.5 million set by the event last year, with 27.6 million people around the continent participating in the campaign. UN officials say more people took to the streets in developing nations. “This is something people in the poorest countries in the world are taking very seriously,” said Salil Shetty, director, UN millennium campaign, New York.
India will likely miss the UN targets to cut extreme poverty and hunger in half from 1990 levels, according to a recent report released by the UN in partnership with the Asian Development Bank. Close to one in three Indians lives on less than $1 (Rs39.50) a day, according to the World Bank.