Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon which goes beyond the realms of lack of adequate income. It is viewed as a state of social, economic and political deprivation of people that excludes them to participate as equals in the development process. I. Introduction Poverty is a curse to mankind. It is a state where people don’t have the basic… Read More »

Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon which goes beyond the realms of lack of adequate income. It is viewed as a state of social, economic and political deprivation of people that excludes them to participate as equals in the development process.

I. Introduction

Poverty is a curse to mankind. It is a state where people don’t have the basic amenities of life, such as- food, clothing, shelter, etc.

According to the United Nations, poverty is defined as a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in a society.

Types of Poverty

  1. Absolute Poverty: When a person doesn’t even get the minimum income needed to maintain their lives, he is said to be living in absolute poverty. Maintenance of life is measured in terms of minimum nutritional requirements.
  2. Relative Poverty: When a section of the population is relatively deprived, compared to another better-off section of the population, they are said to be relatively poor.

Poverty in India

According to Rangarajan Committee Report, a person earning Rs.32 per day in a rural area and Rs. 47 per day in an urban area is considered to be below the poverty line. Earlier it was Rs.27 per day for rural area and Rs. 33 per day for the urban area, according to the Tendulkar committee. After the recommendations of the Rangarajan committee, India’s poor increased by 100 million.

The identification of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families is done by the State government. These families are the beneficiaries of government-aided programmes for the poor.

Rural-Urban Disparity

There is rural-urban disparity as the urban areas have more job opportunities compared to rural areas because of the availability of jobs in manufacturing, service sector, etc. informal employment is also concentrated in urban areas.

Majority of rural people are in the agriculture sector, which is not very profitable due to crop failure, lack of rain, etc. due to these issues people migrate to urban areas for better job and livelihood.[1]

II. Poverty Alleviation Programmes

Poverty Alleviation Programme intends to reduce the rate of poverty in the country by providing proper access to food, monetary help and basic amenities to the households belonging to below the poverty line.

India as a welfare state is committed to the development of its people. Government of India has launched several poverty alleviation programmes to make resources that advantage poor people and by raising the efficiency of the poor through education, public health and other human-resource-related measures.

The following are some of the poverty alleviation programmes started by the Government of India:

Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP)

  • It started in 1978-79
  • Aim- to create sustainable opportunities for self-employment in the rural sector
  • Assistance is given in the form of subsidy and bank credit
  • 50% funding by the Central government and the other 50% by the State government
  • In 1999, IRDP was restructured as Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY)
  • SGSY aimed at organizing rural poor into self-help groups, capacity building, planning of activity clusters, etc.[2]

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005(MGNREGA)

  • It came into force in 2006
  • Aim- To provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year
  • If work is not provided within 15 days of applying, applicants are entitled to an unemployment allowance.
  • This programme guarantees the “right to work”
  • 75% of material cost is borne by the Central government. [3]
  • Benefits: reduces urban migration from rural areas, creation of rural infrastructure by using untapped rural labour, etc.

National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS)

  • Came into effect on 15 August 1995
  • Aim- To provide pension to old people, above the age of 65 years
  • The amount of pension is Rs.200 per month from the Central government
  • State’s contribution varies from state to state
  • The scheme is implemented through panchayats and municipalities [4]

Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana (JGSY)

  • It is a restructured version of erstwhile Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY)
  • It was launched on 1st April 1999
  • Aim- To develop rural areas
  • Secondary objective- To provide sustained wage employment
  • Preference is given to SC/ST, BPL families and physically handicapped people
  • Village panchayat prepares an annual action plan and implements it with the approval of Gram Sabha [5]

Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana (PMGAY)

  • Indira Awaas Yojana has been restructured and launched as Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana in 2015
  • Aim- To provide affordable housing to rural poor by 2022
  • The houses will have a minimum area of 25 sq. metre and basic amenities
  • Cost of assistance is shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 in Northeastern and hilly states [6]

Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY)

  • It was launched in 2014
  • Slogan of the scheme- “Mera Khata, Bhagya Vidhata” i.e. My account brings me good fortune
  • Aim- To guarantee access to financial services, like – basic savings and deposit accounts, remittance, credit, insurance, etc.
  • Benefits- Opening of a basic savings bank account for an unbanked person, no requirement to maintain any minimum balance, interest is earned on the deposit.
  • Accident insurance cover of Rs.1 lakh (Rs.2 lakh to new accounts opened after 28.8.2018)
  • Life insurance cover of Rs.30,000 who opened their accounts between 15.8.2014 to 31.1.2015 [7]

Self-Employment Programme

  • It has been launched under Swarn Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY)
  • Aim- To provide financial assistance to urban poor for setting up gainful employment ventures/enterprises, suited to their skills, training and aptitude.
  • It will target below poverty line families in urban areas
  • Special focus on women, SC/ST, differently-abled persons and such other categories as may be indicated by the Government from time to time
  • The group enterprise should have a minimum of 3 members with a minimum of 70% of members from urban poor families. More than one person from the same family should not be included in the same group [8]

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM)

  • Launched on 23rd September 2013
  • Aim- To enable the poor to access gainful employment and skilled wage employment opportunities
  • The Mission is aimed at providing shelter equipped with essential services to the urban homeless in a phased manner
  • Main highlights- employment through skill training and placement, subsidy to urban poor, shelters for urban homeless, social mobilization and institutional development
  • Funding is shared between the Centre and the State in the ratio 75:25 [9]

III. Analysis

  • After analysing the poverty alleviation programmes, we see that these have not benefitted the poor in terms of increase in income.
  • Public Distribution System is plagued with seepage, corruption, high administrative cost and targeting errors.
  • Wage employment programme is caught in red-tapism and administrative delays leading to poor utilization of the allocated funds.
  • Compared to the magnitude of poverty, the amount of resources allocated for these programmes is not sufficient.
  • These programmes are mainly implemented by government and bank officials. Since such officials are inadequately trained, corrupt and vulnerable to the pressure of the local elite, the resources are inefficiently used and wasted. There is also non-participation of local institutions in implementing these programmes.
  • Government policies have also failed to recognize a vast majority of vulnerable people living on or just above the poverty line.
  • Successful implementation of any programme is not possible without the active participation of the poor. [10]

IV. Present Scenario

People living in extreme poverty are the most affected by the pandemic, which is exacerbating their already limited access to food, clean water, steady income, public services and reducing their ability to practice social distancing. Before COVID-19, the poor already faced a range of issues inhibiting their economic advancement.

According to recent World Bank estimates, the pandemic is causing a major economic shock that could unravel decades of progress on poverty alleviation and push more than 80 million into extreme poverty. [11]

It is difficult to implement many poverty alleviation programmes during the pandemic. For example, Mid-day meal scheme cannot be implemented due to lockdown. Many poor households depended on this scheme to feed their children.

V. Conclusion

Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon which goes beyond the realms of lack of adequate income. It is viewed as a state of social, economic and political deprivation of people that excludes them to participate as equals in the development process.

Poverty alleviation programmes have helped many poor in our country. For those, who are able to move out of poverty, progress is often temporary. Economic shocks, food insecurity and climate change threaten their gains and may force them back into poverty. Programmes should be modified time-to-time to meet the requirements of the situation. With government and individual efforts, poverty can be reduced on a large scale.

[1] Gargi Parsai, It’s for the States to identify BPL Families, The Hindu, Available Here

[2] Chapter 6, Poverty Alleviation Programmes, Source: Ministry of Rural Development, Available Here

[3] What is MGNREGA or NREGA?, Available Here

[4] National Old Age Pension Scheme, Available Here

[5] Puja Mondal, Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana by Government of India, Available Here

[6] Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin)

[7] Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Available Here

[8] Swarn Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY), Available Here

[9] National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM), Available Here

[10] Dr. Devath Suresh, Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India and Its Consequences, Available Here

[11] Muhammad Musa, Fighting Extreme Poverty During COVID-19: Two Proven Ways to Build Resilience in Times of Catastrophic Disruption, Available Here

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Updated On 30 Sep 2020 1:12 AM GMT
Rupali Yadav

Rupali Yadav

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