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Class 9 Economics Chapter 3 Notes - Poverty as a Challenge


In independent India, poverty is a significant challenge and many people lack the money and resources for a decent life. Examples include landless laborers, crowded urban slums, and child workers. Around 270 million people, or every fifth person, faced this challenge in 2011-12, making India the country with the highest concentration of poor individuals. It's a serious issue that the government and experts are working to address. 

What is Poverty?

Poverty means hunger and lack of shelter. It is also a situation in which parents are not able to send their children to school or a situation where sick people cannot afford treatment.

  • Poverty also means a lack of clean water and sanitation facilities
  • A lack of a regular job at a minimum decent level. Above all, it means living with a sense of helplessness. 
  • Poor are in a situation in which they are ill-treated at almost every place, including the farms, factories, government offices, hospitals, railway stations, etc.

Two Typical Cases of Poverty

Poverty refers to the state of deprivation in which an individual or community lacks the necessary resources to maintain a minimum standard of living. It is characterized by hunger, lack of shelter, inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and insufficient employment opportunities. Poverty remains one of the most significant challenges faced by independent India, as the nation can only be considered truly independent when its poorest citizens are free from human suffering. 

Urban Case

  • Ram Saran is a daily wage laborer in a flour mill near Ranchi, Jharkhand, earning around Rs. 1500 per month and supporting a family of 6 people, including sending money to his elderly parents.
    Story of Ram Saran
    Story of Ram Saran
  • His wife and son also work, but their combined income is not enough to afford education for their 4 children, who are unable to attend school.
  • The family lives in a one-room rented house on the outskirts of the city, and the children are undernourished, lacking proper clothing, footwear, and access to healthcare.

Question for Detailed Chapter Notes - Poverty as a Challenge
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What are some of the challenges faced by the poor in India?
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Rural Case

  • Lakha Singh is a landless laborer in a small village near Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, earning Rs. 50 per day by doing odd jobs for farmers, sometimes receiving food grain, or other items instead of cash.
  • He is not literate and has a family of 8 people living in a Kuchcha hut at the edge of the village.
  • The family has no access to healthcare and cannot afford new clothes, soap, or oil.

Cycle of PovertyCycle of Poverty

Question for Detailed Chapter Notes - Poverty as a Challenge
Try yourself:Which of the following statements accurately describes the urban case of poverty described in the passage?
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Poverty as Seen by Social Scientists

The usual way to measure poverty is by looking at income and spending levels. But now, we also consider other factors like education, health, job opportunities, and access to clean water and sanitation. 

Nowadays, we often analyze poverty by focusing on social exclusion and vulnerability.

Analysis of PovertyAnalysis of Poverty

Social Exclusion

It is a process through which individuals or groups are prevented from using facilities, benefits, and opportunities that the better-off section of the society enjoys. Social exclusion can be both a cause and a consequence of poverty.  


Vulnerability describes the greater probability of being more adversely affected than other people when a bad time comes for everybody, whether a flood an earthquake, or simply a fall in the availability of jobs.

Poverty Line

  • A common method used to measure poverty is based on income or consumption levels. A person is considered poor if his or her income or consumption level falls below a given “minimum level” necessary to fulfill basic needs. 
  • The poverty line may vary with time and place. Each country uses an imaginary line that is considered appropriate for its existing level of development and its accepted minimum social norms. 

Pop of India above & below Poverty LinePop of India above & below Poverty Line

  • While determining the poverty line in India, a minimum level of food requirement, clothing, footwear, fuel and light, education, and medical requirement is determined for subsistence. These physical quantities are multiplied by their prices in rupees. The total equivalent is considered the poverty line. 
  • The daily minimum nutritional requirement for a person has been fixed at 2400 calories per person/ per day in rural areas and 2100 calories per person/ per day in urban areas. The monetary expenditure per capital needed for buying these calorie requirements in terms of food grains etc. is revised periodically, taking into consideration the rise in prices. 
  • On the basis of these calculations, for the year 2011-12, the poverty line for a person was fixed at Rs. 816 per month in rural areas and Rs. 1000 per month in urban areas. In this way in the year 2011-12, a family of five members living in rural areas and earning less than about Rs. 4080 per month will be below the poverty line. A similar family in the urban areas would need a minimum of Rs. 5000 per month to meet their basic requirements.
  • For making comparisons between developing countries, many international organizations like the World Bank use a uniform standard for the poverty line: minimum availability of the equivalent of  $ 1.90 per person per day.

Question for Detailed Chapter Notes - Poverty as a Challenge
Try yourself:What is the poverty line for a person in urban areas in India for the year 2011-12?
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Is the Present Methodology of Poverty Estimation Appropriate?    

  • No, the present methodology of poverty estimation is not appropriate. It is only a quantitative concept. It captures only a limited part of what poverty really means to the people. It is about a ‘minimum' subsistence level of living rather than a ‘reasonable level of living'. 
  • Many scholars advocate that we must broaden the concept of human poverty. Other aspects like education, shelter, health, job, self-confidence, equality, etc. should also be included while calculating poverty.

Poverty Estimates

Class 9 Economics Chapter 3 Notes - Poverty as a Challenge

  • There is a substantial decline in poverty ratios in India from about 45 percent in 1993-94. The preparation of people below the poverty line further came down to about 37.2 percent in 2004-05. 
  • If the trend continues, people below the poverty line may come down to less than 20 percent in the next few years. The latest estimates indicated a significant reduction in the number of poor from 407 million in 2004-05 to 270 million in 2011-12.

Question for Detailed Chapter Notes - Poverty as a Challenge
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What is the commonly used method to measure poverty?
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Vulnerable Groups

  • The proportion of people below the poverty line is also not the same for all social groups and economic categories in India.
  • Social groups that are most vulnerable to poverty are scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households.
  • Among the economic groups, the most vulnerable groups are the rural agricultural labor households and urban casual labor households.
  • Although the average for people below the poverty line for all groups in India is 22, 43 out of 100 people belonging to the scheduled tribe are not able to meet their basic needs. Similarly, 34 percent of casual workers in urban areas are below the poverty line. About 34 percent of casual labor farms (rural areas) and 29 percent of scheduled castes are also poor.Class 9 Economics Chapter 3 Notes - Poverty as a Challenge
  • The double disadvantage of being a landless casual wage labor household in the socially disadvantaged social groups of the scheduled caste or the scheduled tribe population highlights the seriousness of the problem.
  • Some recent studies have shown that except for the scheduled tribe household, all the other three groups, i.e. scheduled castes, rural agricultural laborers and the urban casual labor household have seen a decline in poverty in the 1990s.
  • Women, elderly people, and female infants are systematically denied equal access to resources available to the family. Therefore women, children (especially the girl child) and old people are the poorest of the poor. 

Story of Sivaraman

  • The family of Sivaraman, a rural landless labourer has been cited as an example of such a family. 
  • There are 8 members in the family and both he and the wife work. His children do not attend school due to poverty. 
  • Only his son gets milk sometimes and they find difficulty in managing even two meals in a day.

Story of SivaramanStory of Sivaraman

  • The story portrays the sufferings of Sivaraman who works as an agricultural labourer, that too for just 5-6 months in a year. 
  • The suffering and inequality within the family for women and children are even more. 
  • Girls are not sent to school and not even given milk to drink, while the youngest child, who is a son gets milk to drink sometimes and his parents also plan for his education.

Question for Detailed Chapter Notes - Poverty as a Challenge
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Which social group in India is most vulnerable to poverty?
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Inter-State Disparities

There has been a significant decline in poverty since independence. Although there has been a reduction in poverty, the success rate of reducing poverty varies from state to state.
  • States with a poverty ratio more than the national average: Orissa, Bihar, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh are the most poverty-ridden states of India. The poverty ratio in these states is much higher than the national average. Bihar and Orissa are the poorest states with a poverty ratio of 33.7 and 32.6 percent, respectively. Most of these states are facing rural as well as urban poverty.

Poverty Ratio in the Selected Indian States- 2011 CensusPoverty Ratio in the Selected Indian States- 2011 Census

  • States with a poverty ratio less than the national average: There has been a significant decline in the poverty ratio in Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and West Bengal.
  • States with low poverty ratio: Punjab and Haryana have low poverty ratios because of high agricultural growth rates. Kerala has focused on human resource development; West Bengal has taken necessary land reform measures to reduce poverty. In states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the public distribution of food grains has helped in improving the poverty ratio.

Global Poverty Scenario

  • The population of people in developing countries living in extreme economic poverty-defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day has fallen from 36 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2015. Although there has been a substantial reduction in global poverty, it is marked with great regional differences.Global Poverty Trend
    Global Poverty Trend
  • Poverty declined substantially in China and Southeast Asian countries as a result of rapid economic growth and massive investments in human resource development. The number of poor in China has come down from 88.3 percent in 1981 to 0.7 percent in 2015.
  • In the countries of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Bhutan) the decline has also been rapid from 34 percent in 2005 to 16.2 percent in 2013.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, the poverty ratio declined from 51 percent in 2005 to 41 percent in 2015.
  • In Latin America, the ratio of poverty has also declined from 10 percent in 2005 to 4 percent in 2015.
  • Poverty has also resurfaced in some of the former socialist countries like Russia, where officially it was non-existent earlier.
  • The new sustainable development goals of the United Nations propose ending poverty of all types by 2030.

Question for Detailed Chapter Notes - Poverty as a Challenge
Try yourself:
Which states in India have a poverty ratio higher than the national average?
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Causes of Poverty

  • British Rule: Britishers ruled India for more than 100 years. Prior to British rule, traditional Industries, for instance, textiles, were flourishing in India. During British rule, they adopted policies to discourage such industries. This left millions of weavers poor.
  • Rural Economy: The Indian economy is predominantly a rural economy. As such, the major production is of primary goods. In India, 70% of the total population is engaged in agriculture, but its contribution to the national income is only one-third. It means that despite India being predominantly an agricultural country, it is very much backward in agriculture.
  • Heavy Pressure of Population: The population in India has increased very rapidly. The main factors accounting for it are the sharp tall in the death rate but the stable birth rate for many decades. This pressure of population serves as a big stumbling block to economic development.

Class 9 Economics Chapter 3 Notes - Poverty as a Challenge

  • Chronic Unemployment and Underemployment: With a constant increase in population, there has developed a situation of chronic unemployment and underemployment. Due to increasing pressure on land, per hectare availability of land is decreasing. Due to the division of land, production is decreasing. The agriculture sector is also facing a problem of disguised unemployment.
  • Lack of Proper Industrialisation: India is very backward from the industrial point of view. Hardly 3 percent of the working population is engaged in large-scale industries. Consumers’ goods industries like soap, cloth, sugar, leather, oil, etc. have developed to a large extent, but capital and producers’ goods industries have not yet developed properly.
  • Social Factors: Social factors like illiteracy, the large size of the family, the law of inheritance, and the caste system are also responsible for the prevalence of poverty-ridden people.

Question for Detailed Chapter Notes - Poverty as a Challenge
Try yourself:Which of the following is NOT mentioned as a cause of poverty in the given passage?
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Anti-Poverty Measures   

Removing poverty is a top goal for India's development. The government's strategy centers on two main ideas: promoting economic growth and targeted anti-poverty programs.

Economic Growth 

  • Before the 1980s, not much progress was made, but since then, India's rapid economic growth has significantly reduced poverty.
  • Economic growth, reaching about 6 percent annually, creates opportunities and resources for human development.
  • It encourages people, including girls, to pursue education for better economic prospects.

Need for Targeted Programs

  • Given the challenges, there's a clear need for specific anti-poverty programs.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) guarantees 100 days of employment to households in rural areas.
  • The program, active since 2005, focuses on sustainable development and has reserved jobs for women, providing significant employment.

Targeted Anti-poverty programs 

1. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 

Class 9 Economics Chapter 3 Notes - Poverty as a Challenge

  • It was passed in September 2005. This Act provides for 100 days of assured employment every year to every rural household in 200 districts. Later the scheme was extended to 600 districts.
  • One-third of the proposed jobs have been reserved for women.
  • The Central Government established National Employment Guarantee Funds.
  • The state government established State Employment Guarantee Funds for the implementation of the scheme.
  • Under the program, if an applicant is not provided employment within fifteen days, she/he will be entitled to a daily unemployment allowance.
  • The scheme provided employment to 220 crore person-days of employment to 4.78 crore households.
  • After the revised wage rates in March 2018, the range of wage rate lies in between Rs 281 per day(for the workers in Haryana) to Rs 168 per day(for the workers of Bihar and Jharkhand).

2. National Food for Work Programme (NFWP)

  • It was launched in 2004 in the 150 most backward districts of the country.
  • The program is open to all rural poor who are in need of wage employment and desire to do manual unskilled work.
  • It is implemented as a 100 percent centrally sponsored scheme and food grains are provided free of cost to the states.

3. Prime Minister Rozgar Yozana (PMRY)

  • It is another scheme which was started in 1993.
  • The aim of the program is to create self-employment opportunities for educated unemployed youth in rural areas and small businesses and industries.
  • They are helped in setting up small businesses and industries.

Question for Detailed Chapter Notes - Poverty as a Challenge
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What is the aim of the Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP)?
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4. Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP)

  • It was launched in 1995. 
  • The aim of the program is to create self-employment opportunities in rural areas and small towns. 
  • A target for creating 25 lakh new jobs has been set for the program under the Tenth Five Year Plan.

5. Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY)

Class 9 Economics Chapter 3 Notes - Poverty as a Challenge

  • It was launched in 1999. 
  • The program aims at bringing the assisted poor families above the poverty line by organizing them into self-help groups through a mix of bank credit and government subsidy.

6. Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yozana (PMGY)

  • It was launched in 2000. 
  • Additional central assistance is given to states for basic services such as primary health, primary education, rural shelter, rural drinking water, and rural electrification.

7. Antyodaya Anna Yozana (AAY)

  • This scheme was launched in December 2000. Under this scheme, one crore of the poorest among the BPL families covered under the targeted public distribution system was identified. 
  • Poor families were identified by the respective state rural development departments through a Below Poverty Line (BPL) survey. Twenty-five kilograms of food grains were made available to each eligible family at a highly subsidized rate of Rs. 2 per Kg for wheat and Rs. 3 per for rice. This quantity has been enhanced from 25 to 35 kg with effect from April 2002. 
  • The scheme has been further expanded twice by an additional 50 lakh BPL families in June 2003 and in August 2004. With this increase, 2 crore families have been covered under the AAY.

Question for Detailed Chapter Notes - Poverty as a Challenge
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What is one of the challenges in the implementation of poverty alleviation programs?
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Challenges in Implementation

  • While these programs have good intentions, their effectiveness varies due to improper implementation and targeting.
  • Overlapping schemes and a lack of proper monitoring contribute to limited benefits reaching deserving individuals.
  • Recent efforts emphasize proper monitoring to ensure the success of poverty alleviation programs.

The Challenges Ahead

  • Poverty has certainly declined in India. But despite the progress, poverty reduction remains India’s most compelling challenge. Wide disparities in poverty are visible between rural and urban areas and among different states.
  • Poverty reduction is expected to make better progress in the next ten to fifteen years. This would be possible mainly due to higher economic growth, increasing stress on universal free elementary education, declining population growth, and increasing empowerment of women and the economically weaker section of society.
  • The official definition of poverty captures only a limited part of what poverty really means to people. It is about a “minimum” subsistence level of living rather than a “reasonable” level of living. We must broaden the concept into human poverty.
  • With development, the definition of what constitutes poverty also changes. Eradication of poverty is always a moving target. Hopefully, we will be able to provide the minimum “necessary” in terms of income to all people by the end of the next decade. But the target will move on for all and achieve gender equality and dignity for the poor. These will be even bigger tasks.
The document Class 9 Economics Chapter 3 Notes - Poverty as a Challenge is a part of the Class 9 Course Social Studies (SST) Class 9.
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FAQs on Class 9 Economics Chapter 3 Notes - Poverty as a Challenge

1. What is the poverty line?
Ans. The poverty line is the minimum level of income or consumption required to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. It is used to define and measure poverty in a country.
2. How are poverty estimates calculated?
Ans. Poverty estimates are calculated by comparing the income or consumption levels of individuals or households with the poverty line. National statistical agencies conduct surveys to collect data on income or consumption, and this data is then used to estimate the percentage of the population living below the poverty line.
3. What are vulnerable groups in terms of poverty?
Ans. Vulnerable groups refer to individuals or communities that are at a higher risk of falling into poverty or are more severely affected by poverty. These groups may include women, children, elderly people, people with disabilities, and marginalized communities.
4. What are some causes of poverty?
Ans. Poverty can be caused by various factors, including lack of education and skills, unemployment, low wages, discrimination, social exclusion, lack of access to basic services such as healthcare and education, natural disasters, and economic inequality.
5. What are some anti-poverty measures?
Ans. Anti-poverty measures are policies and programs implemented by governments and organizations to reduce poverty and improve the well-being of the poor. Some common anti-poverty measures include social welfare programs, job creation initiatives, access to education and healthcare, skill development programs, and efforts to promote economic growth and reduce income inequality.
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