However, the rapid economic gains in South Asia, as elsewhere in the world, have not been spread equitably, according to the UN's annual Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report released here today.
While the percentage of people who subsist on less than one dollar a day declined from 33.4 to 29.5 between 1999 and 2004, in South Asia the share of the poorest 20 per cent of the population in national consumption fell from 7.2 to 6.7 per cent.
''The benefits of economic growth in the developing world have been unequally shared both within and among countries,'' the UN report said.
South Asia, however, has the world's worst record so far in improving child health with 46 per cent of children under the age of five years being underweight, making it unlikely to meet the UN goal of reducing hunger by half by 2015.
The UN's MDG assessment takes annual stock of global progress towards the eight MDGs which world leaders had pledged to at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000.
The goals underline global commitment to ensure minimum health, income and educational levels to all, reduce economic, social and political imbalances between men and women, and ensure environmental sustainability.