21 Jul 2022
GS Paper 2
Day 11: Despite the various efforts of the government, the poverty and low standard of living of the people in India continue to exist. Discuss. (250 Words)
- Start your answer by explaining the various efforts of the government for eradication of poverty.
- Give an overview of poverty and the reason behind it.
- Discuss why high poverty and low standards of living still exist India.
- Conclude your answer by giving a way forward.
According to the World Bank, Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. In India, 21.9% of the population lives below the national poverty line in 2011.
The cause for the persistence of poverty and low standard is not based on only one factor but there are multiple reasons behind it.
The Government of India has taken a number of initiatives, programmes and policies to eradicate poverty and hunger in India like Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), Jawahar Rozgar Yojana/Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana, National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005 etc but the poverty is still persisting in India.
Causes of Poverty in India
- Population Explosion: India’s population has steadily increased through the years. During the past 45 years, it has risen at a rate of 2.2% per year, which means, on average, about 17 million people are added to the country’s population each year. This also increases the demand for consumption goods tremendously.
- Low Agricultural Productivity: A major reason for poverty in the low productivity in the agriculture sector. The reason for low productivity is manifold. Chiefly, it is because of fragmented and subdivided land holdings, lack of capital, illiteracy about new technologies in farming, the use of traditional methods of cultivation, wastage during storage, etc.
- Inefficient Resource Utilisation: There is underemployment and disguised unemployment in the country, particularly in the farming sector. This has resulted in low agricultural output and also led to a dip in the standard of living.
- Low Rate of Economic Development: Economic development has been low in India especially in the first 40 years of independence before the LPG reforms in 1991.
- Unemployment: Unemployment is another factor causing poverty in India. The ever-increasing population has led to a higher number of job-seekers. However, there is not enough expansion in opportunities to match this demand for jobs.
- Lack of Capital and Entrepreneurship: The shortage of capital and entrepreneurship results in low level of investment and job creation in the economy.
- Social Factors: Apart from economic factors, there are also social factors hindering the eradication of poverty in India. Some of the hindrances in this regard are the laws of inheritance, caste system, certain traditions, etc.
- Colonial Exploitation: The British colonisation and rule over India for about two centuries de-industrialised India by ruining its traditional handicrafts and textile industries. Colonial Policies transformed India to a mere raw-material producer for European industries.
- Climatic Factors: Most of India’s poor belong to the states of Bihar, UP, MP, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, etc. Natural calamities such as frequent floods, disasters, earthquake and cyclone cause heavy damage to agriculture in these states.
- Rapid economic growth and the use of technology for social sector programs have helped make a significant dent in extreme poverty in the country.
- Despite rapid growth and development, an unacceptably high proportion of our population continues to suffer from severe and multidimensional deprivation. Thus, a more comprehensive and inclusive approach is required to eradicate poverty in India.
- Political Economic Equilibrium: Indian political, policy and administrative systems have to adjust to the new realities of the transition to a middle- income country, in which poverty does not mean living at the edge of hunger but, rather, lack of income to take advantage of the opportunities thrown up by a growing economy.
- The focus of government spending should be on the provision of public goods rather than subsidies.
- Agricultural Growth and Poverty Alleviation: Agricultural growth has been recognized as an important factor that contributes to marked reduction in poverty. The agricultural growth and poverty are inversely related; the higher agricultural growth leads to lower poverty ratio. The experience of Punjab and Haryana in the late sixties and in the seventies confirmed this inverse relation between agriculture growth and poverty.
- Speedy Development of Infrastructure: An important measure to generate employment opportunities for the poor and to raise their productivity is the speedy development of infrastructure. Since private sector is not attracted to make adequate investment in infrastructure, public investment needs to be stepped up for its development. Infrastructure development consists of building of roads, highways, ports, telecommunication, power and irrigation. They involve mainly construction work which is highly labour intensive.