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  • Q. “Poverty is not only a condition of economic insufficiency; it is also social and political exclusion.” Substantiate. (250 Words)

    04 Apr, 2022 GS Paper 1 Indian Society


    • Briefly define poverty with current statistics of poverty in India.
    • Discuss poverty as economic insufficiency, social and political exclusion.
    • Conclude by giving a few measures to mitigate poverty.


    According to the United Nations, poverty is a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services.

    According to 2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index, India has lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016. But still around 28% of the Indian population are living below the poverty line.


    Poverty as economic insufficiency:

    • Indian society is characterised by the unequal distribution of wealth. India's top 1% of the population now holds 73% of the wealth while 67 crore citizens, comprising the country's poorest half, saw their wealth rise by just 1%. Consequently, a lot of poor and backward sections of the society cannot afford the basic human needs.
    • Economically, India remains predominantly an agricultural society. Overdependence of labour force on the underdeveloped agriculture is one of the major causes of poverty.
    • Unemployment, excessive inflation, lack of infrastructure are other factors, besides weak aggregate demand, believed to cause poverty.

    Poverty as social and political exclusion:

    • Social exclusion involves discrimination of certain groups of people on the basis of their ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, caste, descent, gender, age, disability, HIV status, migrant status or where they live.
    • Discrimination occurs in public institutions, such as the legal system or education and health services, as well as social institutions like the household. This leads to their deprivation of the basic human needs which are the basic characteristics of poverty.
    • It hurts them materially – making them poor in terms of income, health or education by causing them to be denied access to resources, markets and public services.
    • Often marginalized and minority groups are excluded from political decision-making. Their exclusion from political decision-making have led to deficits in people’s livelihoods, education, health and access to other basic services.

    Since poverty is a multidimensional phenomena, there needs to be focus on efficient anti-poverty programmes to address the various aspects of poverty. Some of the government initiatives in this regard are:

    • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA): Aimed at enhancing livelihood security of the households by providing guaranteed wage employment thus increasing their purchasing power.
    • Housing for All by 2022 mission: To provide affordable housing to all the poor.
    • Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana: A component of it, National Rural Livelihood mission aims to cover 7 Crore rural poor households, 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats and 6 lakh villages in the country through self-managed Self Help Groups (SHGs) and federated institutions and support them for livelihoods collectives in a period of 8-10 years.
    • Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana: As part of poverty reduction strategy, government launched the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) on 25th December 2000 as rural roads constitute about 80% of the country’s road network and are a lifeline for the vast majority of the population that lives in the villages.


    Along with these initiatives, creating more and better jobs is also important for empowering the poor so that they continue to fulfill their needs.

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