Poverty in India: Rich Nation, Poor People?

Various methodologies and poverty lines calculate the criteria for poverty in India. In India, poverty is calculated based on income and consumption patterns. The official poverty rates in India are based on the Planning Commission’s data, which uses the Tendulkar methodology. This methodology sets different poverty lines for rural and urban areas, with the current authorized level at ₹26 a day ($0.43) in rural areas and about ₹32 per day in urban areas. The poverty lines in 2004-05 at the all-India level were calculated as Rs. 356.30 per capita per month for rural areas and Rs. 538.60 per capita per month for urban areas based on the Expert Group methodology.

Criteria for Poverty in India

Additionally, India uses the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to identify “MPI poor” individuals who are deprived in three or more areas, including malnutrition, education, and sanitation. The percentage of the population living in poverty in India fell to 15% in 2019-21 from 25% in 2015/16, according to a government report based on the 2019-21 National Family Health Survey.

The Poverty Rate in India 

The Poverty rate in India has significantly improved over recent years. India has made significant progress in reducing poverty levels over the years, with the percentage of the population living in poverty declining from 60% in 2011 to 15% in 2019-21. India’s economy is lower-middle income. Many people still live on less than $3.20/day despite progress.

Discuss the Major Reasons for Poverty in India

Poverty in India persists as a complex challenge, despite the nation’s economic strides. Let’s delve deeper into the major reasons behind this persistent issue:

Economic Bottlenecks:

  • Uneven Development: India’s economic growth hasn’t been uniform across regions. Eastern states, for example, grapple with higher poverty rates compared to the more developed south. This disparity in infrastructure, job opportunities, and access to resources creates pockets of vulnerability.
  • Limited Livelihood Options: A significant portion of the workforce relies on agriculture, a sector susceptible to external factors. Dependence on rain-fed agriculture, coupled with inadequate irrigation and limited diversification, makes incomes unpredictable and hinders economic mobility.
  • Infrastructure Deficits: Poor rural infrastructure creates hurdles for agricultural production and marketing. Lack of proper roads, storage facilities, and market access reduces profits for farmers and restricts overall economic growth in rural areas.

Social Stratifications:

  • Caste System’s Shadow: The legacy of caste continues to disadvantage certain communities. Restricted access to education, land ownership, and well-paying jobs due to social exclusion pushes these communities towards lower incomes and perpetuates poverty cycles.
  • Gender Disparity: The gender pay gap and limited job opportunities for women make them financially dependent. This vulnerability is particularly stark for single mothers or widows, placing them at a higher risk of poverty.

Safety Net Gaps:

  • Inadequate Social Security: Lack of access to government schemes and social security programs leaves vulnerable populations exposed during crises or unexpected hardships. This absence of a safety net makes it difficult for them to weather economic shocks and climb out of poverty.

Other Contributing Factors:

  • Rapid Population Growth: India’s rapid population increase can strain resources, creating a scenario where economic growth struggles to keep pace with rising needs. This can exacerbate poverty in india, especially in already vulnerable areas.
  • Environmental Degradation: Issues like deforestation and soil erosion can decrease agricultural productivity, impacting rural livelihoods and worsening poverty.

The Interconnected Web:

It’s crucial to recognize the interconnectedness of these causes. Social exclusion, for example, can restrict access to education, which in turn limits job opportunities and perpetuates poverty.

The Road Ahead:

India’s fight against poverty necessitates a multi-faceted approach. Bridging the economic gap between regions, investing in rural infrastructure and education, and strengthening social safety nets are essential steps. Empowering women and marginalized communities, while finding sustainable solutions for environmental challenges, are also key elements in achieving long-term progress. By addressing these multifaceted causes, India can create a more equitable future where poverty becomes a relic of the past.

Combating Extreme Poverty by 2030

The country has been working towards ending extreme poverty by meeting its sustainable development goals by 2030, with efforts focused on inclusive growth, social protection programs, and targeted strategies to address poverty thoroughly.

Cause of Poverty in India

The main causes of poverty in India are multifaceted and include various economic, social, historical, and political factors. Some of the key reasons identified in the sources provided are:

  1. Rapidly Rising Population: India’s population growth rate has been significant, adding about 17 million people annually, which increases the demand for consumption goods. 
  2. Low Productivity in Agriculture: The agriculture sector in India faces challenges like fragmented landholdings, lack of capital, traditional farming methods, and low productivity, contributing to poverty.
  3.  Underused Resources: Underemployment and disguised unemployment in sectors like agriculture lead to low output and a decline in living standards.
  4. Low Rate of Economic Development: India’s economic development has not kept pace with the demand for goods and services, creating a gap that contributes to poverty.
  5. Price Rise: Steady price increases in the country have disproportionately affected lower-income groups, making it difficult for them to meet basic needs.
  6. Unemployment: The growing population and limited job opportunities have resulted in a high number of job-seekers relative to available employment opportunities, exacerbating poverty levels.
  7. Social Factors: Social issues like the caste system, inheritance laws, and traditions pose challenges to poverty eradication by hindering development and exacerbating poverty levels.
  8. Political Factors: Historical factors like colonial exploitation and political decisions have influenced India’s economic structure, leading to long-term consequences that contribute to poverty.
  9. Regional Disparities: Some states in India face higher poverty rates than others, necessitating targeted interventions and investments to uplift these regions. 

Books on Poverty in India:

  1. “Poverty in India”: by Kulwant Rai Gupta, delves into the persisting poverty issues in India despite economic growth
  2. “Everybody Loves A Good Drought”: Stories From India’s Poorest Districts” by P. Sainath, focuses on rural poverty and related issues
  3. “Unseen”: The Truth About India’s Manual Scavengers” by Bhasha Singh and Reenu Talwar, sheds light on manual scavenging and human rights violations
  4. “Good Economics For Hard Times”: Better Answers To Our Biggest Problems” by Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo, offers insights into global issues like inequality and climate change
  5. “Banker to the Poor”: by Muhammad Yunus, a memoir discussing micro-lending and poverty alleviation efforts

These books provide valuable perspectives on poverty in India, covering a range of topics from rural crises to economic policies and social issues.

Government Initiatives and Policies

The Government of India has implemented various initiatives and policies to address poverty in the country. These efforts aim to alleviate poverty, improve living conditions, and enhance the overall well-being of the population. Some key initiatives and policies include:

  1. Skill India Scheme: This program focuses on generating employment opportunities and reducing poverty through skill development.
  2. Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana: A national public health insurance fund aimed at providing free insurance to low-income groups, contributing to improved healthcare access.
  3. Jal Jeevan Mission: This initiative has facilitated the supply of tap water connections to millions of households, enhancing access to clean drinking water.
  4. PM SVANidhi Scheme: Supporting street vendors by providing loans, thereby aiding in economic empowerment and poverty reduction
  5. PM Garib Kalyan Yojana: A scheme providing free food grains to over 80 crore people, ensuring food security for vulnerable populationsSwachh Bharat Mission: Focused on improving sanitation across the country, contributing to better health outcomes and reducing poverty
  6. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: Providing free LPG connections to millions of households, enhancing access to clean cooking fuel and improving living conditions
  7. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana: A financial inclusion scheme that has opened millions of bank accounts, promoting economic empowerment and access to financial services

These initiatives, among others, demonstrate the government’s commitment to poverty alleviation, social welfare, and sustainable development in India.

Give an Account of Interstate Disparities of Poverty in India

India battles significant disparities in poverty levels across its states. Here’s a breakdown:

High Poverty States:

  1. Many eastern Indian states, including Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh, have significant poverty rates.
  2. Limited access to education and healthcare, inadequate infrastructure, and reliance on rain-fed agriculture are all factors contributing to this situation.

Low Poverty States:

  1. Poverty has declined significantly in southern states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.
  2. Investments in human capital development, public food distribution networks, and a concentration on agriculture and industry have all contributed to their success.

Disparity Causes:

  1. Uneven economic development: Certain regions have not profited as much from India’s economic progress, resulting in an unequal distribution of income. Caste structures and a lack of educational opportunities can perpetuate poverty cycles in some communities.
  2. Geographic disadvantages: Poverty reduction might be difficult in remote or disaster-prone areas.

Identify the Social and Economic Groups Which are most Vulnerable to Poverty in India

In India, social and economic factors combine to increase vulnerability to poverty. Here are the two main groups that are most affected.

Social Groups:

  • Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs): These groups have historically endured social marginalization and prejudice, with limited access to education, property ownership, and well-paying occupations. This marginalization drives them to lower salaries and an increased likelihood of poverty.

Economic Groups:

  • Rural Agricultural Laborers: This group relies on irregular seasonal jobs and low pay. Droughts and limited irrigation put additional strain on their income security.
  • Urban Casual Laborers: These daily wage earners in cities endure unstable employment, low earnings, and a lack of social safety nets, leaving them vulnerable to poverty.

Other Vulnerable Groups:

  • Women: Gender pay disparities and limited career options render them financially dependent and vulnerable, particularly widows and single moms.
  • Children: Child labour and limited access to school might trap children in poverty cycles.
  • aged: Without adequate social security or support networks, the aged, particularly those without working families, may face financial difficulties.

It is crucial to emphasize that, while these are the most vulnerable categories, poverty can afflict other segments of society owing to a variety of factors such as disability, sudden loss of livelihood, or membership to a religious minority that faces persecution.

Rural Poverty in India: A Persistent Challenge

Rural poverty remains a significant concern in India, despite the country’s overall economic growth. Here’s a closer look at the issue:

Dimensions of Rural Poverty:

  • Widespread: A large proportion of India’s population resides in rural areas, and a substantial number live below the poverty line. While the national poverty rate has declined, rural poverty remains higher than urban poverty.
  • Multidimensional: Rural poverty goes beyond just income. It encompasses limited access to quality education, healthcare, sanitation, and basic infrastructure.

Causes of Rural Poverty:

  • Limited Livelihood Options: Dependence on rain-fed agriculture makes incomes vulnerable to droughts and erratic weather patterns. Lack of access to credit, technology, and alternative job opportunities restricts income diversification.
  • Underdeveloped Infrastructure: Poor roads, irrigation facilities, and storage systems create bottlenecks for agricultural production and marketing, leading to lower profits for farmers.
  • Social Factors: Caste-based discrimination and limited land ownership can disadvantage certain communities, hindering their ability to climb out of poverty.
  • Inadequate Social Safety Nets: Limited access to government schemes and social security programs can leave vulnerable populations without a safety net during crises.

Impact of Rural Poverty:

  • Low Quality of Life: Poverty restricts access to nutritious food, proper healthcare, and quality education. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty across generations.
  • Out-Migration: In search of better opportunities, many villagers migrate to cities, putting a strain on urban infrastructure and resources.
  • Social Issues: Poverty can contribute to child labor, malnutrition, and social unrest.

Initiatives to Address Rural Poverty:

  • Government Schemes: Programs like MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) provide guaranteed wage employment for rural households. Other initiatives focus on education, healthcare, and skill development.
  • Focus on Infrastructure: Investments in rural roads, irrigation, and electrification aim to improve connectivity and boost agricultural productivity.
  • Microfinance: Providing access to microfinance can empower rural communities to start small businesses and generate income.

Looking Ahead:

  • Continued focus on creating sustainable livelihoods in rural areas is crucial.
  • Investments in education and skill development can empower rural youth for better employment opportunities.
  • Strengthening social safety nets and ensuring equitable access to government programs is essential.
  • Addressing the issue of climate change and its impact on agriculture is vital for long-term poverty reduction.

By tackling these challenges, India can strive for a more inclusive and equitable society where rural poverty becomes a relic of the past.

what are the causes of poverty in India

Poverty in India is a complex issue with deep roots. Here’s a breakdown of the major causes:

Economic Factors:

  • Uneven Economic Development: While India’s economy has grown considerably, the benefits haven’t reached all regions equally. Some states, particularly in eastern India, lag in development, leading to higher poverty rates.
  • Limited Livelihood Options: A large part of the Indian workforce relies on agriculture, which faces challenges like unpredictable weather patterns, limited irrigation, and dependence on seasonal work. This restricts income generation and makes livelihoods vulnerable.
  • Underdeveloped Infrastructure: Poor rural infrastructure, including roads, storage facilities, and access to markets, creates bottlenecks for agricultural production and marketing. This reduces profits for farmers and hinders economic growth in rural areas.

Social Factors:

  • Social Exclusion: The caste system continues to disadvantage certain communities, limiting their access to education, land ownership, and well-paying jobs. This pushes them towards lower incomes and perpetuates poverty cycles.
  • Gender Inequality: The gender pay gap and limited job opportunities for women make them financially dependent and more vulnerable to poverty, especially single mothers or widows.
  • Inadequate Social Safety Nets: Lack of access to government schemes and social security programs leaves vulnerable populations without a safety net during crises or unexpected hardships.

Other Contributing Factors:

  • Rapid Population Growth: India’s rapid population growth can strain resources and lead to a situation where economic growth isn’t enough to keep pace with rising needs.
  • Deforestation and Environmental Degradation: Environmental issues like deforestation and soil erosion can decrease agricultural productivity and worsen rural poverty in India.

The Interplay of Factors:

It’s important to understand that these causes are often interconnected. For example, social exclusion can limit access to education, which in turn restricts job opportunities and keeps people trapped in poverty in india.

Looking Ahead:

India’s fight against poverty requires a multi-pronged approach. Addressing economic disparities, investing in rural infrastructure and education, and strengthening social safety nets are crucial steps. Empowering women and marginalized communities, along with finding sustainable solutions for environmental challenges, are also essential for long-term progress.

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Abhishek Parmar

Thakur Abhishek Yuvraj Parmar crafts captivating content on India, celebrating its diverse culture and heritage, creating stories that resonate with the heart of every Indian.

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