Poverty in India

Poverty is not having enough material possessions or income for a person’s needs. Poverty may include social, economic, and political elements. Absolute poverty is the complete lack of the means necessary to meet basic personal needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. The threshold at which absolute poverty is defined is always about the same, independent of the person’s permanent location or era. On the other hand, relative poverty occurs when a person cannot meet a minimum level of living standards, compared to others in the same time and place. Therefore, the threshold at which relative poverty is defined varies from one country to another, or from one society to another. A person who cannot afford housing better than a small tent in an open field would be said to live in relative poverty if almost everyone else in that area lives in modern brick homes, but not if everyone else also lives in small tents in open fields.

Many governments and non-governmental organizations try to reduce poverty by providing basic needs to people who are unable to earn a sufficient income. These efforts can be hampered by constraints on government’s ability to deliver services, such as corruption, tax avoidance, debt and loan conditionals and by the brain drain of health care and educational professionals. Strategies of increasing income to make basic needs more affordable typically include welfare, economic freedoms and providing financial services. Meanwhile, the poorest citizens of middle-income countries have largely failed to receive an adequate share of their countries’ increased wealth.

In India :

As India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, poverty is on the decline in the country, with close to 44 Indians escaping extreme poverty every minute, as per the World Poverty Clock. India had 73 million people living in extreme poverty which makes up 5.5% of its total population, according to the Brookings report. In May 2012, the World Bank reviewed and proposed revisions to their poverty calculation methodology and purchasing power parity basis for measuring poverty worldwide. It was a minimal 3.6% in terms of percentage. As of 2020, the incidence of multidimensional poverty has significantly reduced, declining from 54.7 percent to 6 percent.

The 19th century and early 20th century saw increasing poverty in India during the colonial era. Over this period, the colonial government de-industrialized India by reducing garments and other finished products manufactured by artisans in India. Instead, they imported these products from Britain’s expanding industry due to the many industrial innovations of the 19th century. Additionally, the government simultaneously encouraged the conversion of more land into farms and more agricultural exports from India. Eastern regions of India along the Ganges river plains, such as those now known as eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, were dedicated to producing poppy and opium. These items were then exported to southeast and east Asia, particularly China. The East India Company initially held an exclusive monopoly over these exports, and the colonial British institutions later did so as well. The economic importance of this shift from industry to agriculture in India was large; by 1850, it created nearly 1,000 square kilo-meters of poppy farms India’s fertile Ganges plains. This consequently led to two opium wars in Asia, with the second opium war fought between 1856 and 1860. After China agreed to be a part of the opium trade, the colonial government dedicated more land exclusively to poppy. The opium agriculture in India rose from 1850 through 1900, when over 500,000 acres of the most fertile Ganges basin farms were devoted to poppy cultivation. Additionally, opium processing factories owned by colonial officials were expanded in Benares and Patna, and shipping expanded from Bengal to the ports of East Asia such as Hong Kong, all under exclusive monopoly of the British. By the early 20th century, 3 out of 4 Indians were employed in agriculture, famines were common, and food consumption per capita declined in every decade. In London, the late 19th century British parliament debated the repeated incidence of famines in India, and the impoverishment of Indians due to this diversion of agriculture land from growing food staples to growing poppy for opium export under orders of the colonial British empire.

Another Expert Group was instituted in 1993, chaired by Lakdawala, to examine poverty line for India. It recommended that regional economic differences are large enough that poverty lines should be calculated for each state. From then on, a standard list of commodities were drawn up and priced in each state of the nation, using 1973–74 as a base year. This basket of goods could then be re-priced each year and comparisons made between regions. The Government of India began using a modified version of this method of calculating the poverty line in India.

There are wide variations in India’s poverty estimates for 1990s, in part from differences in the methodology and in the small sample surveys they poll for the underlying data. A 2007 report for example, using data for late 1990s, stated that 77% of Indians lived on less than ₹ 20 a day. In contrast, S G Datt estimated India’s national poverty rate to be 35% in 1994, at India’s then official poverty line of Rs.49 per capita, with consumer price index adjusted to June 1974 rural prices.

The Poverty in India is to be controlled using various techniques. Economic growth is to be increased so as to reduce the problem of Poverty in India. Agriculture is to be given importance in the country. This has been the main problem of poverty in India. Giving importance to agriculture improvises the economical benefits to the country.

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