JAC Board Class 9th Social Science Notes Economics Chapter 3 Poverty as a Challenge
- Poverty is one of the most difficult challenges faced by independent India.
- Poverty trends in India and the world are illustrated through the concept of the poverty line.
- The poor could be landless labourers in villages or people living in overcrowded slums in cities. They could be daily wage workers at construction sites or child workers in roadside eateries. They could also be beggars with children in tatters.
- Every fourth person in India is poor. This means roughly 270 million (Or 27 Crore) people in India live in poverty (2011-12).
- India is the largest single country of the poor in the world.
- Mahatma Gandhi always insisted that India would be truly independent only when the poorest of its people become free from human suffering.
→ Poverty as seen by social scientists
- Social scientists analyse poverty from many aspects besides levels of income and consumption. These aspects are: (i) Poor level of literacy (ii) lack of general resistance due to malnutrition, (iii) Lack of faccess to healthcare, (iv) Lack of job opportunities (v) Lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation, etc.
→ Indicators for poverty
- The most commonly used indicators for poverty analysis are social exclusion and vulnerability.
→ Social exclusion
- Social exclusion means living in a poor surrounding with poor people, excluded from enjoying social equality with better-off people in better surroundings.
- In India, caste system is based on social exclusion. People belonging to certain castes were prevented from enjoying equal opportunities. This caused more poverty than that caused by lower income.
- Vulnerability to poverty is a measure, which describes the greater probability of certain communities of becoming or remaining poor in the coming time, e.g. members of a backward caste or individual like widow or a physically handicapped person.
- Vulnerability is determined by various options available to different communities in terms of assets, education, job, health, etc and analyses their ability to face various risks like natural disasters.
→ Poverty line
- Poverty line is an imaginary line used by any country to determine its poverty. It varies from time to time, place to place and country to country.
- The most common method of determining poverty is income or consumption levels.
- A person is considered poor if his or her income or consumption level falls belong a given minimum level necessary to fulfil their basic needs.
- In India, the present formula for food requirement while estimating the poverty line is based on the desired calorie requirement.
- The calorie needs vary depending on age, sex and the type of work that a person does.
- The accepted average of calorie requirement in India is 2400 calories per person per day in rural areas and 2100 calories per person per day in urban areas.
- The poverty line is estimated periodically (normally every five years) by conducting sample surveys. These surveys are carried out by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).
→ Poverty Estimates
- There is decline in poverty ratios in India from about 45% in 1993-94 to 37.2% in 2004-05.
- The percentage of people living under poverty line declined in the earlier two decades (1973-1993). The number of poor declined from 407 million in 2004-05 to 270 million in 2011-12.
→ Vulnerable Groups
- The proportion of people below poverty line is also not same for all social groups and economic categories in India.
- Social groups which are most vulnerable to poverty are scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households.
- The most vulnerable economic groups are the rural agricultural labourer households and the urban casual labourer households.
- There is also inequality of incomes within a family.
- In poor families all suffer but women, elderly people and female infants suffer more than others.
→ Inter-state Disparities
- The proportion of poor people is not the same in every state.
- In 2011-12 estimates, all India Head Count Ratio (HCR) was 21.9%.
- The states like Madhya Pradesh. Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha had a higher poverty level than the all-India average.
- Bihar and Odisha continue to be the two poorest states with poverty ratios of 33.7% and 32.6% respectively.
- Along with rural poverty, urban poverty is also high in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
- Punjab and Haryana have succeeded in reducing poverty with the help of high agricultural growth rates.
- Kerala has focussed more on human resource development.
- In West Bengal, land reform measures have helped in reducing poverty.
- In Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu public distribution of foodgrains could have been responsible for the improvement.
→ Global Poverty Scenario
- Although, extreme economic poverty has reduced in the world from 36% in 1990 to 10% in 2015 (as per the World Bank), still there are vast regional differences.
- Poverty declined substantially in China and South East Asian countries as a result of economic growth and massive investments in human resource development.
- In the countries of South Asia the decline in poverty levels has not been as rapid.
- Poverty has also resurfaced in some of the former socialist countries like Russia where officially it was non-existent earlier.
- One historical reason for the widespread poverty in India is the low level of economic development under the British colonial administration.
- The failure at both the fronts : promotion of economic growth and population control has perpetuated the cycle of poverty in India.
- With the extension of irrigation and the Green Revolution, many job opportunities were created in the agricultural sector.
- The industries did provide some jobs but these were not enough to absorb all the job seekers.
- The huge income inequalities has been another feature of high poverty rates.
- The major cause of poverty in India has been lack of land resources.
- In order to fulfil social obligations and observe religious ceremonies, people in India, including the very poor, spend a lot of money.
- The high level of indebtedness is both the cause and effect of poverty.
→ Anti-Poverty Measures
- Removal of poverty has been one of the major objectives of Indian development strategy.
- The current anti-poverty strategy of the government is based on two measures: (i) promotion of economic growth, (ii) targetted anti-poverty programmes.
- Since the eighties, India’s economic growth has been one of the fastest in the world.
- There is a strong link between economic growth and poverty reduction
- Economic growth increases opportunities and provides the resources needed to invest in human development. However, the poor may not be able to take direct advantage of the opportunities created by economic growth.
- Growth in the agricultural sector is much below expectations.
- Many schemes were formulated to reduce poverty directly and indirectly. Some of them are as mentioned below:
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MNREGA): Aims to provide 100 days of wage employment to every household to ensure livelihood security in rural areas.
- Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY), 1993: The aim of the programme is to create self-employment opportunities for educated unemployed youth in rural areas and small towns.
- Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP), 1995: The aim of the programme is to create self-employment opportunities in rural areas and small towns.
- Swaranajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana, 1999 (SGSY): The programme aims at bringing the assisted poor families above the poverty line by organising them into self-help groups through a mix of bank credit and government subsidy.
- Pardhanmantri Gramodaya Yojana (PMGY), 2000: Under this, additional central assistance is given to states for basic services such as primary health, primary education, rural shelter, rural drinking water and rural electrification.
- Antyodya Anna Yojana (AAY), 2000: Under this scheme one crore of the poorest among the BPL families covered under the targetted public distribution system were identified.
→ The Challenges Ahead
- Poverty reduction is still a major challenge in India, due to the wide differences in poverty levels between various regions as well as rural and urban areas.
- Certain social and economic groups are more vulnerable to poverty.
- Poverty levels are expected to be lower in the next 10-15 years.
- In addition to anti-Poverty measures governments should focus on the following to reduce poverty, (i) Higher economic growth (ii) Universal free elementary education (iii) Decrease in population growth (iv) Empowerment of women and the weaker sections.
→ Poverty: It is a situation where a person fails to satisfy minimum human needs concerning food, clothing, housing, education and health.
→ Caloric requirement: The quantity of food that is capable of producing the required amount of energy needed by a normal person to live and work. In urban areas, this is 2100 calories and in rural areas, it is 2400 calories per person, per day.
→ NSSO: National Sample Survey Organisation. It is the largest organisation in India conducting regular socio-economic surveys.
→ World Bank: It is an international organisation dedicated to providing finance, advice and research to developing nations to aid their economic advancement.
→ HCR: Head Count Ratio. It is the proportion of a population that lives below the poverty line.
→ South-Asia: Comprises of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
→ Economic Growth: It is a term which defines an increase in real output of a country.
→ Sustainable development: It has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland report: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
→ Minimum Subsistence level of living: Is when a person’s bare necessities of food, shelter and clothing are taken care of.
→ Reasonable level of living: Is when these and more are taken care of and he can indulge in making certain selective lifestyle choices.