- Poverty is a challenge faced by independent India.
- Poverty in social sciences.
- Concept of the Poverty Line.
- Causes of poverty
- Anti-poverty measures taken by the government
- The official concept of poverty into human poverty
- Poverty can be defined as a lack of daily requirements of livelihood like food, clothing, education etc.
- The poor could be landless labourers in villages or people living in overcrowded jhuggis in urban areas.
- Every 4th person in India is poor. India has the largest single concentration of the poor in the world.
Poverty as seen by Social Scientists
- Social Exclusion
Social exclusion: For analysis of poverty, social exclusion is very useful. As per this concept, poverty must be seen in terms of the poor living only in a poor surrounding with other poor people.
Vulnerability: Vulnerability describes the greater probability of being more adversely affected than other people, which is due to an earthquake or simply a fall in the availability of jobs.
- Measurement of vulnerability to poverty describes the greater probability of certain communities i.e., members of a backward caste or individuals i.e. a widow or a physically handicapped person.
- Poverty Line: The poverty line is a way that is used to identify the poor. It is a method used to measure poverty. In this method, poverty is measured with the help of consumption and income level of the people.
- If the level of income and consumption falls below the minimum level of income and consumption of this line, then the person is considered to be poor.
Economic Survey 2011–12, Ministry of Finance, Government of India:
- The poverty ratio in the year 1973 was 55 per cent and 30 per cent in 2009-10 which shows a decline in the poverty ratios. Poverty ratios further came down to about 26 per cent in 2000 and 36 per cent in 1994.
- Therefore, the poverty ratio continuously decreased from 1974 to 2000.
- In India, the proportion of people below the poverty line is also not the same for all social groups and economic categories.
- Scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households are vulnerable to poverty in social groups.
- In the same direction, rural agricultural labour households and urban casual labour households are vulnerable to poverty in economic categories.
Global Poverty Scenario
World Development Indicators 2012, The World Bank:
- Through huge investments in human resource development and rapid economic growth, poverty has substantially decreased in China and Southeast Asian countries.
- In China number of poor has come down from 85 per cent in 1981 to 14 per cent in 2008.
- In Asian countries i.e. India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan despite a decline in the percentage of the poor the decline has not been rapid.
- In India, poverty is higher than the national estimates. It is done because of different poverty line definitions.
- In Latin America, the ratio of poverty has declined from 11% in 1981 to 6.4 per cent in 2008.
Causes of Poverty
Low growth rate:
- During the British colonial administration, the rate of growth was very low which was the basic cause of poverty.
Discouragement of development of industries and handicraft Products
- Discouragement of the development of industries and handicraft Products is one historical reason for poverty. The policies of the colonial government discourage the development of industries, like textile industries which are the basic source of income of the poor. An uneducated person can easily get a job in this type of industry as labour and sustain his livelihood.
- Discouragement of handicraft Products was also a major cause of poverty, during the British colonial administration. The households can easily earn money by the way of producing handicrafts products.
The high growth rate of the population:
- The population is increasing instead of low level of income. Which becomes the cause of poverty.
Huge income inequalities:
- There are huge income inequalities between have and have not. For this term, huge income inequalities make it difficult to properly implement the poverty elimination policies of the government. Therefore, it is the major cause of poverty.
Lack of land resources:
- Lack of land resources is also a major cause of poverty. The incomes of the villagers are fully based on agricultural income and the lack of land resources creates a low level of agriculture income which becomes the major cause of poverty.
The anti-poverty strategy of the government is based broadly on two planks:
- Promotion of economic growth
- Targeted anti-poverty programmes
Promotion of economic growth:
- According to official poverty estimation, the growth rate jumped from an average of about 3.5 per cent a year in the 1970s to about 6 per cent during the 1980s and 1990s. With the help of a high rate of growth, the reduction of poverty is possible.
- It shows a link between poverty reduction and economic growth. Therefore, the promotion of economic growth helps to reduce poverty.
Targeted anti-poverty programmes:
- National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA)
It was launched in September 2005 and it provides 100 days of assured employment every year to every rural household in 200 districts. Later, the scheme will be extended to 600 districts. One-third of the proposed jobs would be reserved for women. In this Act, if an applicant is not employed within fifteen days, then he/she will be entitled to a daily unemployment allowance. The central government and state governments will also establish National Employment Guarantee Funds and State Employment Guarantee Funds for implementation of the scheme.
- Prime Minister Rojgar Yojana (PMRY)
Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) was launched on 2nd October 1993. The objective of the programme is to create self-employment opportunities for educated unemployed youth in rural areas and small towns. It also helped in setting up small businesses and industries.
- Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY)
This programme was launched on 1st April 1999. The objective of this programme is to help rural people organise themselves into self-help groups by the way of promoting enterprises at the village level. This programme helps to exist poor families above the poverty line. In this programme, the government provides subsidies and bank credits to the rural people to generate income.
- Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP)
This programme was launched in 1995. The target of this programme is to provide 25 lakh new jobs to the rural and small towns persons under the Tenth Five Year plan.
- Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yozana (PMGY)
This programme was launched in 2000. The objective of this programme is to develop a standard of living for rural people by way of focusing on five critical areas i.e. primary health, primary education, rural shelter, rural drinking water and rural electrification.
- Sampoorna Grameen Rojgar Yojana (SGRY)
This programme was launched in September 2001. The Employment Assurance Schemes and JGSY would be merged with SGRY. The programme aims to provide wage employment and to create durable community, social and economic assets.
The Challenges Ahead
- Poverty reduction remains India’s most compelling challenge despite the progress. Because of unequal distribution of income, increase in population etc.
- The positive situation can be achieved by way of higher economic growth, increasing stress on universal free elementary education, declining population growth, increasing empowerment of the women and the economically weaker sections of society, and providing health care, education and job security.
- Unemployment: Unemployment is a situation where a person has no job despite he/she can do the job. It is a big cause of poverty. Unemployment is also a situation of joblessness when people are in a condition of without a job and in the situation of seeking a job during the recession.
- It is a sign of poverty, where an individual is unemployed. It is a loss of human resources to the nation and a stigma to society.
- Child labour: Child labour is a situation where a child is employed to earn money. Which is mentally, physically and socially dangerous and harmful for the children. Child labour is a basic problem of poverty. Because of doing work, the child can not be illiterate and he/she is unable to make his/her future.
- The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, of 1986 defines a child as any person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age.
- According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the term ‘child labour’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
- Illiteracy: Illiteracy is the condition where a person is unable to read and write. In India Illiteracy is a major problem of poverty.