‘Poverty – The lack of basic necessities and
What is poverty ?
• Poverty is a condition in which a person finds him unable to maintain a
living standard adequate for his physical and mental efficiency. According
to Adam Smith, “Man is rich or poor according to the degree in which he
can afford to enjoy the necessaries, the conveniences and the amusements
of human life.”
Poverty is looked through other social indicators like• Illiteracy level.
• Lack of general resistance due to malnutrition.
• Lack of access to healthcare.
• Lack of job opportunities.
• Lack of access to safe drinking water, etc.
Poverty in India
• After the 90s , India has made rapid strides in diverse fields and has
reached the moon .India is standing on the threshold of being an
economic superpower. But the harsh realities below this growth are
that many of Indians cannot afford a proper meal everyday.
• The so called ’Economic Boom’ has not reached the Common Man.
There are only islands of prosperity amidst gigantic oceans of poverty.
• What is the use of growth if it is not inclusive and just takes a few
people forward whereas the rest are left to fend for themselves. India
ranks a poor 128 out of 177 countries in the latest rankings released
by the United Nations Development Programme’s Human
Development Index (HDI).
• Poverty in India is widespread, with the nation estimated to have a third of the world’s
poor. In 2011, World Bank stated, 32.7% (39,56,70,000) of the total Indian people fall
below the international poverty line of US$ 1.25per day (PPP) while 68.7% live on less
than US$ 2 per day .
• Considering the size of India, poverty differs greatly from one state to another. The states
of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh each has more than 100 million people living below the
poverty line while the states like Kerala, Goa are relatively prosperous.
A corrupt ‘Poverty Line’
• The poverty in India is measured by a poverty line that is probably
one of the most disputed and incessantly attacked measure in the
world. Several of the states do not recognize the poverty line set by
the government .
• India's central government is undecided on criteria to identify
families below poverty line. Many ministers in the past have come
under huge fire due to their impractical remarks on poverty.
• The Planning Commission in March,2012 set poverty line to Rs 28.65
per capita daily consumption in cities and Rs 22.42 in rural areas .
Many social activists have mocked this demarcation calling it a
‘starvation line’ as it takes into account only the minimum calories
necessary for survival but not the other necessities like clean water ,
education , health and sanitation facilities .
Effects of Poverty
• Malnutrition- According to the World Bank estimates, of about 49 percent
of the world's underweight children, 34 percent of them live in India .India
has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world . The 2011 Global
Hunger Index (GHI) Report ranked India 15th, amongst leading countries
with most aggravating hunger situation. Due to increasing inflation , the
poor cant arrange for minerals and other nutrients rich foods , resulting in
deficiency diseases and thus , high child mortality rates.
• Education- For an emerging and developing country like India,
development of underprivileged children through holds the key to the
progress of the nation itself. Less than half of India's children between the
age 6 and 14 go to school . A little over one-third of all children who enroll
in grade one reach grade eight. They are forced to leave their education
midway to work and support their families . Thus, they remain illiterate and
unaware of schemes available for their welfare .
• Poor Shelter facilities -One in six urban Indians lives in slum housing that is
cramped, poorly ventilated, unclean and "unfit for human habitation",
according to the country's first complete census of its vast slum
population. The deteriorating situation can be made clear by an example of
Mumbai ,where 40% of the population lives in slums but occupies only 6%
of Mumbai’s land. Such dwellings are devoid of basic amenities like clean
potable water , sanitation facilities and electricity .Due to lack of poor
sanitation facilities and unhygienic conditions, people usually fall prey to
• Slavery – A large number of Indian people including children work under
slavery in unhygienic conditions . India has the dubious distinction of being
home to half the number of modern day slaves in the world. The first
Global Slavery Index has estimated that 13.3 to 14.7 million people live like
slaves in the country. Though the law forbids employing children under 14 ,
but the need to satiate hunger forces them to work in dangerous condition
. Children and women are sold as sex-slaves where they are abused and
• Increase in Crime - Poverty is a root cause of crime, and without
solving the poverty issue it may not be possible to solve the violent
crime issues plaguing India . Poverty is associated with low income
and high unemployment and so it causes social distress.
Impoverished persons are more likely to be engaged in underground
economy, use drugs and alcohol, which, in turn are highly associated
with violent crimes, domestic violence, and high crime rates. One of
the effects of poverty on children’s development is to lead them to
build an antisocial behavior that acts as a psychological protection
against their hostile environment. Discrimination and social exclusion
often push them to more aggressiveness and less self-control and
nuance in reaction to stressful events. Having often been taken
advantage of in their early childhood, they rarely come to a
constructive way to deal with conflicts.
Causes of Poverty
• Population Explosion - India is the second most populated country and with
population growth of 2.2%, it is likely to overtake China by 2025. Over 20 million
people are added to its population each year increasing the demands for
consumption goods and basic amenities like food , clothing and shelter. The short
supply of commodities results in increase in their prices.
• Low Agricultural Productivity – About 2-3rd of the country’s population lives in
villages. Most of the rural population are dependent on agriculture to make their
livelihood. But the farmers still employ obsolete methods of farming and are also
over-dependent on monsoons for the success of their crops . Change in patterns of
rainfall causes crop failure thus ruining the farmers and increasing the debt on them .
The huge wave of farm suicides in Indian rural population from 1997 to 2007 totalled
close to 200,000, according to official statistics.
• Political Factors –Before Independence ,the Britishers reduced Indian economy to a
colonial state. They exploited the natural resources to suit their interests and weaken
the industrial base of Indian economy .But even in independent India, the
development plans have been guided by political and social interests. Many
elaborate licenses, regulations requirements cause a lot of welfare and employmentopportunities to cease ,thus preventing the population to benefit from them. As of
Causes of Poverty
2006, the government spends less than 0.2% of GDP on agriculture and less than 3% of
GDP on education. Corruption in various welfare schemes like MNREGA, Mid-day meal
also adversely affects the poor .
• Poor Health Services –The Indian Government spends less than 1% of the annual
budget on health services . This should be made aleast 2%. Many middle class
families come under burden of heavy debt because of costly privte heath services
while the Government Hospitals are either not good nor are available in every city or
• Land inequality and distribution –All the developed countries have shown at some
point a pattern of very well-distributed land ownership (at least within the rural
population), where up to 70 to 80% of the population would own the land (rather
than 5% for example).From then on, economic development happened on the basis
of more equal societies. But owning land also has a huge impact on agricultural
productivity as people are generally willing to invest only in land they own and
exploit for themselves. This increase in agricultural productivity then means more
growth and less poverty at the same time.After that, people start nurturing their
physical and human capital, their kids can afford school, and the household gains
higher social status, thus reducing social inequalities and problems of access to
Roti, Kapda aur Makaan is just a distant dream for many of the poor
people in our country while MacDonalds and KFCs are flooding the
nation. The people of India, who are below the poverty line, should not
be left to struggle for their daily survival. The booming Indian economy
should include them as well.If India is to progress to be a superpower, it
will have to showcase inclusive growth.
• Unemployment leads to financial crisis and reduces the overall
purchasing capacity of a nation. This in turn results in poverty
followed by increasing burden of debt. In rural India, even during the
period of good harvest, the Indian farmers are not employed for the
entire year. Thus ,I would suggest that the Government should set up
cottage industries in villages like bees rearing,making candles ,
handloom to provide employment to the poor. While in cities , poor
people should be involved in infrastructure improving projects to
provide them employment for their livelihood.
• Rise in prices over time or inflation also affects the poor. Hoarders
and black marketers should be punished and strict actions should be
taken against them. The Government shold aim to remove the
middlemen between the farmers and the local markets, so that poor
people can get edible products at nominal process. The Government
should promote use of indigenous items over imported ones. This
would reduce inflation on one hand while also increasing
employment opportunities in the country itself.
• For the deteriorating education system , I would suggest that the
Government should open new state schools while also improving the
quality of the existing ones. Children should be taught elementary
skills and vocational skills so that they can make use of them in the
future. Schemes like Mid-day meal should continue with proper
efficiency so that more number of students are attracted to schools.
• Housing programmes or awaas yojnas should be run by the
Government to shift the people living in the slums below the poverty
line to small houses at nominal rates .Similarly, katccha houses in
villages should be replaced with pakka ones with proper sanitation
facilities. This would help in preventing the spread of diseases.
• The government should become more accountable and carry out the
reform policies without corruption . Many policies and reforms are
carried out by the Government like MNREGA,NRHM but significant
changes are not visible due to rampant corruption .There should be
no irregularities in the Public Distribution System for the poor so that
the poor can have easy access to the subsidized ration. BPL cards
should not be made available to the people above the poverty line .
• Poor households should be encouraged and motivated to form
groups which are the principal institutional mechanism for organizing
and pursuing community development activities in the village. These
households would then begin to understand the value of association
or organization and routine interaction and the power they can have
through asserting themselves as citizens and members of the society.
The groups should be encouraged to engage in income-generating
activities using their own resources and capabilities.
• The Government should increase the investment in the health sector.
A physically strong population is an asset to the nation. Clinics shoul
be opened in each big village and doctors should be motivated to
serve the poor villagers as well . . Awareness-raising in several areas,
such as immunization, sanitation should be pursued.
A lot has been done, a lot is left to
Legislation alone cannot empower people. People need to be
motivated to help their poor countrymen. Poverty is a social evil that
will have to be defeated. The people of India, who are below the
poverty line, should not be left to struggle for their daily survival. The
booming Indian economy should include them as well. After all,
development is not just moving ahead but also ensuring that no one is