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Poverty is the lack of basic human needs, such as clean water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter, because of the inability to afford them. This is also referred to as absolute poverty or destitution. Relative poverty is the condition of having fewer resources or less income than others within a society or country, or compared to worldwide averages. About 1.7 billion people live in absolute poverty; before the industrial revolution, poverty had mostly been the norm.
The claim that industrial activity reduces poverty is disputable. Poverty could be defined in terms of quality of life. A child needs no capital if everything they need is in their environment, and the environment is not contaminated. Likewise, if people have a quality of life, a safe, uncontaminated environment, and freedom from being harmed and used by others; then the need for capital is superfluous. Such people need not be considered to be in poverty. Industrial systems can produce a surplus, when the costs of environmental damages are externalized (paid by others). But this surplus is distributed disproportionately, by design. The poverty of today is directly attributable to such activity. When prosperity is defined as prosperity for a small percentage of human beings, and that prosperity is based on exploitation of natural resources and other people; we have a mechanism that creates poverty; especially as resources are exhausted by consumption and the people being used lose their land, their assets, and their livelihoods and are considered homeless, worthless, and shiftless. Statistical analysis that uses the mean (average) instead of the mode (the value that occurs most frequently in a given set of data), is not helpful with respect to understanding what is actually going on.
Poverty reduction has historically been a result of economic growth as increased levels of production, such as modern industrial technology, made more wealth available for those who were otherwise too poor to afford them. Also, investments in modernizing agriculture and increasing yields is considered the core of the antipoverty effort, given three-quarters of the world's poor are rural farmers.
Today, economic liberalization includes extending property rights, especially to land, to the poor, and making financial services, notably savings, accessible. Inefficient institutions, corruption and political instability can also discourage investment. Aid and government support in health, education and infrastructure helps growth by increasing human and physical capital.

According to World Development Report 2000/2001 states that poverty is a pronounced deprivation in well-being. The voices of poor people bear eloquent testimony to its meaning. To be poor is to be hungry, to lack shelter and clothing, to be sick and not to be cared for, to be illiterate and not schooled. The report accepts the now traditional view of poverty as encompassing not only material deprivation (measured by an appropriate concept of income or consumption) but also low achievements in education and health. The report also broadens the notion of poverty to include vulnerability and exposure to risk – and – voicelessness and powerlessness. All these forms of deprivation severely restrict what Amartya Sen. calls the capabilities that a person has, that is, the substantive freedom he or she enjoys to lead the kind of life he or she values. This broader approach to deprivation, by giving a better characterization of the experience of poverty, increases understanding of its causes. This deeper understanding brings to the fore more areas of action and policy on the poverty reduction agenda.

Poverty statics in India

Poverty statics in India


Poverty cannot be a concern for only the government. It is an issue, which deserves attention of the entire society at large. Poverty needs to be a universal concern on account of the following considerations:
If the disparity between the haves and have-nots exceeds a minimum level, it could create a social unrest. There is evidence in history to this effect.

The Human Development Report (1997) states,
The progress in human development and in eradicating poverty has often been won through uprisings and rebellions against states that have advanced the interests of the economically powerful while tolerating rigid class divisions, unbearable economic conditions and human suffering and poverty. History is marked by uprisings and rebellions sparked by poverty. English peasants revolted against an impoverishing poll tax in 1381. German peasants rose up against their feudal overlords in opposition to the serfdom. In 1524. Among developing countries, India has a long tradition of peasants movement. As far back as the 17th and 18th centuries, when the British East India Company ruled India, peasants rose up against their British landlords. Full-scale revolutions have their roots in people’s reaction to poverty and economic injustice. Spontaneous uprisings instigated the French revolution in 1789, the revolutionary movements throughout Europe in 1848 and the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.The wars of independence in Africa and Asia in the 19th and 20th centuries were not only an expression of nationalism- they were also a struggle against economic and social injustice. The civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960’s too was a struggle for economic and social emancipation - at times resulting in violence despite the pacifist philosophy of its leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. Some strides in reducing poverty since 1960, have been gradual and peaceful as with the formation of welfare states in industrial countries and the reduction of infant mortality, the increase in life expectancy and other achievements in developing countries.” History provides evidence enough to deduce that any society should not be stretched beyond limits that it reaches a point where only a revolution could bring about a change. Such a stage is accompanied by violence, turbulence and lot of social unrest. If the entire social fabric decays, then what good are the scientific achievements and material wealth if the very survival of life becomes questionable?
To promote social progress and raise the standard of living within the wider concept of freedom, international human rights law- as enshrined in the UN charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other treaties and declarations, recognizes economic and social rights, with the aim of attacking poverty and its consequences. Among these rights are an adequate standard of living, food, housing, education, health, work, social security and a share in the benefits of social progress.


Causes of Poverty in India:

• Anti globalization policies which restricted foreign direct investment
• Off the charts reliance on public sector enterprises characterized by overstaffing and lack of incentives
• Defense of capital intensive choice of techniques which led to tolerance of huge public sector performing badly
• An overwhelming expansion of direct controls
• Lack of basic education
• Population

Causes of Poverty in India

Programme run by GOI to reduce Poverty

India’s anti poverty strategy comprises of a wide range of poverty alleviation and employment generation programmes, many of which have been in operation for several years. Some of the anti poverty programmes operational in India are:
• Integrated rural Development Programme (IRDP)
• Training of Rural Youth for Self Employment (TRYSEM)
• The Programme of Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWRCA)
• Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY)
• Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS)
• Million Wells Scheme(MWS)
• National Social Assistance Programme
• Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY)
• Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY)
• Mahatma Gandhi rural employment guarantee act (MNREGA) 2008
• Public distribution scheme (PDS)
• Microfinance institutions
• Financial inclusion
• Information and communication technology (ICT’S)

The data drawn from the Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment and other concerned departments (Economic Survey 1998-99, Ministry of Industry, Govt. of India) indicates a large gap between targets set for various schemes and the achievement. In many cases it is even less than 50 per cent. In such a state of affairs, the desired objectives are difficult to achieve. Hence there is a need for people themselves getting involved in the poverty alleviation programs.

The Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP):

The Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), introduced in selected blocks in 1978-79 and universalised from 2 October 1980 has provided assistance to rural poor in the form of subsidy and bank credit for productive employment opportunities through successive plan periods. Subsequently, Training of Rural Youth for Self Employment (TRYSEM), Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA), Supply of Improved Tool Kits to Rural Artisans (SITRA) and Ganga Kalyan Yojana (GKY) were introduced as sub-programmes of IRDP to take care of the specific needs of the rural population. These schemes were, however, implemented as ‘stand alone programmes’, an approach which substantially detracted from their effectiveness. The Mid-Term Appraisal of the Ninth Plan had indicated that these sub-programmes “presented a matrix of multiple programmes without desired linkages”. The programme suffered from sub critical investments, lack of bank credit, over-crowding in certain projects and lack of market linkages. The programme was basically subsidy driven and ignored the processes of social intermediation necessary for the success of self-employment programmes. A one-time provision of credit without follow-up action and lack of a continuing relationship between borrowers and lenders also undermined the programme’s objectives.
Wage Employment Programmes:-
Wage employment programmes, an important component of the anti-poverty strategy, have sought to achieve multiple objectives. They not only provide employment opportunities during lean agricultural seasons but also in times of floods, droughts and other natural calamities. They create rural infrastructure which supports further economic activity. These programmes also put an upward pressure on market wage rates by attracting people to public works programmes, thereby reducing labour supply and pushing up demand for labour. While public works programmes to provide employment in times of distress have a long history, major thrust to wage employment programmes in the country was provided only after the attainment of self-sufficiency in food grains in the 1970s. The National Rural Employment Programme (NREP) and Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programmes (RLEGP) were started in the Sixth and Seventh Plans.

Jawahar Rozgar Yojana/Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana:

The NREP and RLEGP were merged in April 1989 under the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY). The JRY was meant to generate meaningful employment opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed in rural areas through the creation of economic infrastructure and community and social assets. Initially, the JRY also included the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) and the MWS. Both these schemes were made into independent schemes in 1996. Under JRY, 73,764.83 lakh mandays of employment were generated till 1998-99 Employment generation progressively declined over the years, partly due to lower central allocations in the Ninth Plan and partly due to the increasing cost of creating employment. The works taken up under JGSY have not been comprehensively evaluated for their quality and employment potential. Initial reports from the states, however, indicates that since every village panchayat has to be covered by the scheme, many panchayats get less than Rs. 10,000 per annum. Except for states like Kerala, West Bengal and Orissa, where village panchayats cover large areas and get substantial funds under the scheme, in other states most panchayats get less than Rs. 50,000 per annum. Benefits to the SC/STs and the disabled have to be earmarked. In addition, the administrative expenses of the panchayat and expenditure on assets already created are to be met from JGSY funds. In effect, panchayats are left with very little money to take up meaningful infrastructure projects.

Employment Assurance Scheme:

The Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS) was launched on 2 October 1993 covering 1,778 drought-prone, desert, tribal and hill area blocks. It was later extended to all the blocks in 1997-98. The EAS was designed to provide employment in the form of manual work in the lean agricultural season. The works taken up under the programme were expected to lead to the creation of durable economic and social infrastructure and address the felt-needs of the people. The scheme prohibited construction of buildings for religious purposes, monuments, memorials, welcome gates, panchayat buildings, government office buildings and buildings for higher secondary schools and colleges. It also provided for maintenance of assets created in the past under the scheme. Initially, the scheme was demand-driven but from 1999, resources were allocated to states based on the incidence of poverty. The EAS is a centrally-sponsored scheme, with the Centre providing 75 per cent of the funds and the states 25 per cent. The zilla parishads and panchayat samitis were the implementing agencies. Annexure 3.2.I provides details of the physical and financial performance of the scheme during the Eighth and Ninth Plan periods. While 10,719.59 lakh mandays of employment were generated during the Eighth Plan, 4,717.74 lakh mandays of employment were generated in the first year of the Ninth Plan. Employment generation went down in subsequent years. The allocations between 1999-2000 and 2001-02 were also lower than the first two years of the Ninth Plan because watershed projects taken up for implementation under the EAS before April 1999 were transferred to Integrated Wasteland Development Programme (IWDP).

Social Security Programmes:

Democratic decentralisation and centrally supported Social Assistance Programmes were two major initiatives of the government in the 1990s. The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), launched in August 1995 marks a significant step towards fulfillment of the Directive Principles of State Policy. The NSAP has three components:
• National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS);
• National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS);
• National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS).

The NSAP is a centrally-sponsored programme that aims at ensuring a minimum national standard of social assistance over and above the assistance that states provide from their own resources. The NOAPS provides a monthly pension of Rs. 75 to destitute BPL persons above the age of 65. The NFBS is a scheme for BPL families who are given Rs. 10,000 in the event of the death of the breadwinner. The NMBS provides Rs. 500 to support nutritional intake for pregnant women. In addition to NSAP, the Annapurna scheme was launched from I April 2000 to provide food security to senior citizens who were eligible for pension under NOAPS but could not receive it due to budget constraints. The scheme seeks to cover 20 per cent of persons eligible for NOAPS. These beneficiaries are given 10 kg of food grains per month free of cost.

Issues of concern for implementation poverty alleviation programmes

Rural poverty alleviation programmes were revamped and re-focused during the Ninth Plan to increase their effectiveness. Programmes that provide self-employment and wage employment to the poor would be implemented with greater vigour during the Tenth Plan.

1. SGSY would provide opportunities for self employment to the rural poor. The programme would shift to a process-oriented approach in four stages.
• Social mobilisation for formation of self help groups;
• Savings among the group and internal lending among its members and Provision of a revolving fund;
• Micro finance;
• Micro-enterprise development.

2. Network of institutions that promote the self help movement would be created during the Plan period. Partnership would be forged between NGOs and other community-based organisations, government agencies and other financial institutions. There would be a system of identifying and training local facilitators.

3. Key activities would be planned to respond to the needs of the area. Training programmes for beneficial linkages with training institutions would be forged Greater attention would be paid to marketing. Rural haats/markets at the taluka/district level would be set up for display of products Linkages will be developed with private channels, industrial enterprises and export houses for higher value realisation for SGSY groups.

4. Special attention would be paid to provide technical support for upgrading technology
and standardisation of products. Use of information and communication technology would be promoted during the plan period in this regard.

5. The SGRY would be the single wage employment programme. The programme
would have three streams which would seek to address the need of rural infrastructure at the village level, ensure guaranteed employment of at least 100 days in areas facing chronic unemployment/migration and provide relief in natural calamities such as floods, droughts, earthquakes and other contingencies. The projects under SGRY would be chosen with a view to taking up schemes that enlarge the scope for increased economic activity.

6. Access to land will be an important element in the poverty alleviation strategy. Tenancy reforms, record of rights of land owners and tenants, computerisation of land records, prevention of alienation of tribal lands, and issue of land rights for women will be the major tenets of the land reform agenda.

7. The promotion of a movement which enhances social capital and forges linkages with other formal and informal stakeholders engaged in developmental activities would be a major thrust during the Plan. PRIs have created a space for the involvement of the community in governance. There is a need to provide greater attention to effective empowerment of PRIs. The Government recognises the necessity of building capabilities at the local levels for planning, implementation and monitoring of development programmes. These would be undertaken on a large scale during the Plan period.



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