India can learn from Pak's poverty alleviation scheme: Nitish

Poverty is a cross-border phenomenon and India could learn from the experiences of the Benazir Income Support Programme, the Pakistan government's flagship poverty alleviation scheme, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said today.

Kumar, currently on a week-long visit to Pakistan with a delegation of ministers and lawmakers from Bihar, was briefed on the BISP by Farzana Raja, the federal minister who heads the programme launched in the name of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.

Poverty is a cross-border phenomenon and several schemes aimed at poverty reduction and provision of jobs are being run in India, especially in Bihar, Kumar said.
However, the BISP is a "unique intervention in the social sector as it offers various services under one roof", he said.

Kumar said he intended to learn from the experiences of BISP as it tackles both poverty alleviation and women's empowerment. He also lauded the targeting and identification mechanisms adopted by BISP.

Raja, a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, described poverty as a "trans-national menace" and said Pakistan is ready to share its experiences in BISP with India. Pakistan and India face similar issues in the social sector that ought to be resolved by working together, she said.

Under BISP, the federal government has issued special cards to the poor that enables them to avail of financial aid and access various welfare schemes. The programme was also used by the government to provide aid to those affected by the devastating floods of 2010 and 2011.

Kumar also praised late Benazir Bhutto for having played a "pivotal role for the sake of democracy".

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