“Poverty is humiliation, the sense of being dependent on them, and of being forced to accept rudeness, insults, and indifference when we seek help.” —Latvia 1998
In the simplest term, poverty may be defined as a social condition where individuals do not have financial means to meet the most basic standards of life that is acceptable by the society. Individuals experiencing poverty do not have the means to pay for basic needs of daily life like food, clothes and shelter.
Poverty also staves people off from accessing much needed social tools of well-being like education and health requirements. The direct consequences stemming from this problem are hunger, malnutrition and susceptibility to diseases which have been identified as major problems across the world. It impacts individuals in a socio-psychological way with them not being able to afford simple recreational activities and getting progressively marginalized in the society.
The term poverty is interconnected with the notion of the poverty line/ threshold that may be defined as the minimum figure of income that is required in a particular country for maintaining the socially acceptable quality of life in terms of nutritional, clothing and sheltering needs. The World Bank has updated its international poverty line figures to 1.90 USD (Rs. 123.5) per day on October 2015 (based on prices of commodities in year 2011-2012), from 1.5 USD(Rs. 81) as a response to the changes in the cost of living across the world as per current economy. The organization estimates that – “Just over 900 million people globally lived under this line in 2012 (based on the latest available data), and we project that in 2015, just over 700 million are living in extreme poverty.”
Poverty is a worldwide cause of concern even in economically stable countries like the USA. Current statistics state that over half the populations in the world, about 3 billion people, are forced to live on less than 2.5 dollars per day. In India, as per 2014 government reports, monthly per capita consumption expenditure is Rs. 972 per person in rural areas and Rs. 1407 per person in urban areas. This data is currently being accepted as the poverty threshold of the country. As of 2015, 21.9% of the total population lives below the national poverty threshold, as per the data of Asian Development Bank, that’s a whopping 269.7 million individuals not having enough money.
Causes of Poverty in India
Factors contributing to the persistent problem of poverty in the country are many and they need to be identified in order to be addressed properly. They can be categorized under the following heads.
1. Demographic – the main factor that contributes to poverty-ridden state of the country from a demographical point of view is the problem of over population. The growth of population in the country has so far exceeded the growth in economy and the gross result is that the poverty figures have remained more or less consistent. In rural areas, size of the families is bigger and that translates into lowering the per capita income values and ultimately lowering of standard of living. Population growth spurt also leads to generation of unemployment and that means diluting out of wages for jobs further lowering income.
2. Economic –there are a host of economic reasons behind persistence of the poverty problems which are outlined hereunder:-
a. Poor Agricultural Infrastructure –Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy. But outdated farming practices, lack of proper irrigation infrastructure and even lack of formal knowledge of crop handling has affected the productivity in this sector tremendously. As a consequence there is redundancy and sometimes complete lack of work leading to decreased wages that is insufficient for meeting daily needs of a labourer’s family plunging them into poverty.
b. Unequal distribution of assets – with the economy changing directions rapidly, the earning structure evolves differently in different economic income groups. Upper and middle income groups see a faster increase in earnings than lower income groups. Also assets like land, cattle as well as realty are distributed disproportionately among the population with certain people owning majority shares than other sectors of the society and their profits from these assets are also unequally distributed. In India it is said that 80% wealth in the country is controlled by just 20% of the population.
c. Unemployment – another major economic factor that is causative of poverty in the country is the rising unemployment rate. Unemployment rates is high in India and according to a 2015 survey data, at the all-India level, 77% of families do not have a regular source of income.
d. Inflation and Price hike – the term Inflation may be defined as an increase in prices of commodities coinciding with the fall in the purchasing value of money. As a direct consequence of inflation, effective price of food, clothing items as well as real estate rises. The salaries and wages do not rise as much in keeping up with the inflated prices of commodities leading to effective decrease of the per capita income.
e. Faulty economic liberalization – the LPG (Liberalization-Privatization-Globalization) attempts initiated by the Indian Government in 1991 were directed towards making the economy more suited to international market-trends to invite foreign investments. Successful to certain extent in reviving the economy, the economic reforms had detrimental effects on increasing the wealth distribution scenario. Rich became richer, while the poor remained poor.
3. Social – The various social issues plaguing the country that contributes towards poverty are:-
a. Education and illiteracy – Education, rather its lack thereof and poverty form a vicious cycle that plagues the nation. Not having enough resources to feed their children, the poor consider education to be frivolous, preferring children to start contributing to the family’s income rather than draining them. On the other hand, lack of education and illiteracy prevent individuals from getting better paying jobs and they get stuck at jobs offering minimum wages. Improvement of quality of life gets hindered and the cycle once again comes into action.
b. Outdated Social Customs – Social customs like the caste system cause segregation and marginalization of certain sections of the society. Certain castes are considered untouchables still and are not employed by upper caste, leaving very specific and low paying jobs that they can live off. Economist K. V. Verghese put forth the problem in a very lucid language, “Caste system acted as a springboard for class exploitation with the result that the counterpart of the poverty of the many is the opulence of the few. The second is the cause of the first.”
c. Lack of skilled labour – lack of adequate vocational training makes the huge labour force available in India largely unskilled, which is unsuitable for offering maximum economic value. Lack of education, much less higher education, is also a contributing factor towards this.
d. Gender inequality–the weak status attached with women, deep-rooted social marginalization and long embedded perceptions of domesticity renders about 50% of the country’s population unable to work. As a result the women of the family add to the number of dependents that need to be fed instead of being able to contribute considerably in the family income which might assuage the poverty situation of the family.
e. Corruption – despite considerable efforts from the government in the forms of various schemes to mollify the poverty situation, allegedly only 30-35% actually reaches the beneficiaries due to wide-spread practices of corruption in the country. Wealthy people with privileged connection are able to acquire more wealth simply by bribing government officials to maximize their profits from such schemes while the poor remain in a state of neglect for not being able to assert such connections.
4. Individual – individual lack of efforts also contribute towards generating poverty. Some people are unwilling to work hard or even not willing to work altogether, leaving their families in the darkness of poverty. Personal demons like drinking and gambling also leads to draining of the family income inciting poverty.
5. Political – in India, socio-economic reform strategies has been largely directed by political interest and are implemented to serve a choice section of the society that is potentially a deciding factor in the elections. As a result, the issue is not addressed in its entirety leaving much scope of improvements.
6. Climatic – maximum portion of India experiences a tropical climate throughout the year that is not conducive to hard manual labour leading to lowering of productivity and the wages suffer consequently.
Effects of Poverty
The resounding effect of poverty echoes through various layers of an India citizen’s life. If we try to have a systematic look at them, we should proceed under the three following heads:-
1. Effect on Health – one of the most devastating effects that poverty has is on the overall health of the nation. The most prominent health issue stemming from poverty is malnutrition. The problem of malnutrition is widespread in all age-groups of the country but children are most adversely affected by this. Limited income in larger families leads to lack of access to sufficient nutritious food for their children. These children over time suffer from severe health problems like low body weight, mental, physical disabilities and a general poor state of immunity making them susceptible to diseases. Children from poor backgrounds are twice as susceptible to suffer from anemia, nutrient deficiencies, impaired vision, and even cardiac problems. Malnutrition is a gross contributor of infant mortality in the country and 38 out of every 1,000 babies born in India die before their first birthday. Malnutrition among adult also leads to poor health in adults that leaches their capacity for manual labour leading to a decrease in income due to weakness and diseases. Poverty also causes definite decline in the sanitary practices among poor who cannot afford proper bathrooms and disinfectants. As a result susceptibility to waterborne diseases peak among the poor. Lack of access to as well as means to procure appropriate treatment also affects overall mortality of the population which is lower in poor countries than developed nations like the USA.
2. Effects on Society – poverty exerts some gravely concerning effects over the overall societal health as well. These may be discussed along the following lines:-
a. Violence and crime rate – incidence of violence and crime have been found to be geographically coincident. In a backdrop of unemployment and marginalization, the poor resort to criminal activities to earn money. Coupled with lack of education and properly formed moral conscience, a poverty ridden society is more susceptible to violence by its people against its own people from a sense of deep-seated discontent and rage.
b. Homelessness – apart from a definite drop in the esthetic representation of the country, homelessness affects child health, women safety and overall increase in criminal tendencies.
c. Stress – lack of money is a major cause of stress among the middle-class and the poor and leads to decline in productivity of individuals.
d. Child labour – one of the hallmarks of a poverty-ridden society is the widespread practices of exploitation and the worst of it comes in the form of child labour. Large families fail to meet the monetary needs of the members and children as young as 5 years are made to start earning in order to contribute to the family income.
e. Terrorism – proclivity of youth towards terrorism stems from a combination of extreme poverty and lack of education making them susceptible to brainwashing. Terrorist organizations offer poverty-ridden families money in exchange for a member’s participation in their activities which induces a sense of accomplishment among the youth.
3. Effect on Economy –poverty is a direct index indicating success of the economy of the country. The number of people living under the poverty threshold indicates whether the economy is powerful enough to generate adequate jobs and amenities for its people. Schemes providing subsidies for the poor of the country again impose a drain on the economy.
The measures that should be taken to fight the demon of poverty in India are outlined below:-
1. Growth of population at the current rate should be checked by implementation of policies and awareness promoting birth control.
2. All efforts should be made to increase the employment opportunities in the country, either by inviting more foreign investments or by encouraging self-employment schemes.
3. Measures should be taken to bridge the immense gap that remains in distribution in wealth among different levels of the society.
4. Certain Indian states are more poverty stricken than others like Odhisha and the North East states. Government should seek to encourage investment in these states by offering special concessions on taxes.
5. Primary needs of people for attaining a satisfactory quality of life like food items, clean drinking water should be available more readily. Improvement of the Subsidy rates on commodities and Public Distribution system should be made. Free high school education and an increased number of functioning health centers should be provided by the government.
Poverty in India
Introduction: Poverty refers to a situation when people are deprived of basic necessities of life. It is often characterized by inadequacy of food, shelter and clothes. In other words, poverty refers to a state of privation where there is a lack of essential needs for subsistence.
India is one of the poorest countries in the world. Many Indian people do not get two meals a day. They do not have good houses to live in. Their children do not get proper schooling.
Poor people are the depressed and deprived class. They do not get proper nutrition and diet. Their conditions have not sufficiently improved even long after over 65 years of our Independence.
Poverty in urban India: Just like most of the growing and developing countries, there has been continuous increase in Urban population.
- Poor people migrate from rural areas to cities and towns in search of employment/financial activity.
- The income of more than 8 crore urban people is estimated to fall below poverty line (BPL).
- In addition to this, there are around 4.5 crore urban people whose income level is on borderline of poverty level.
- A income of urban poors is highly unstable. A large number of them are either casual workers or self-employed.
- Banks and Financial institutions are reluctant to provide them loan because of the unstable income.
- Five states that constitutes around 40% of all urban poor people of India are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh.
- Around 35% of the total population of the four metro cities (Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai) consists of slum population.
- A large portion of people living in slums are illiterate.
- The initiatives taken to deal with the problem of urban poverty has not yielded the desired results.
Poverty in rural India: It is said that rural India is the heart of India. In reality, the life of people living in rural areas is marked with severe poverty. Inspite of all the efforts, the condition of poor villagers is far from satisfactory. The report on Socio-economic and Caste Census (2011) reveal the following facts:
- SCST: Of all the rural households, around 18.46 percent belongs to scheduled castes, and around 10.97 belongs to scheduled Tribes.
- Major source of income: Manual causal labour jobs and cultivation are the major sources of income for rural people. Nearly 51 percent of all households are economically engaged in manual casual labour and nearly 30 percent of them is engaged in cultivation.
- Deprived: Around 48.5 percent of rural households are deprived according to the census.
- Assets: Only 11.04 percent of families own a refrigerator while there is a vehicle (including two-wheeler, boat, etc. )in around 29.69 percent of the rural houses.
- Income Tax: Only 4.58 percent of rural households pay income tax.
- Land ownership: Around 56 percent of village households doesn’t own a land.
- Size of rural houses: The houses of around 54 percent rural families consists of either one or two-rooms. Out of them, around 13 percent lives in a one-room house.
Also read: Short essay on Poverty in Indian Villages
Causes of poverty
The growing population inflates the problem of poor techniques used in Agriculture. Further, there is unequal distribution of wealth. As a result, the poor people are often exploited by the wealthy community. The most important causes of Poverty in India are poor agriculture, growing Population, gap between rich and poor, corruption and black money.
Poor agriculture: India is mainly an agricultural country. About 80% people of our country depend on agriculture. But our agriculture is in a bad way. Farmers are poor and uneducated. They do not know the modern methods of farming. They have no good facilities of irrigation. They do not get seeds and fertilizers in time. Thus, the yield is poor. Agriculture is not profitable today. We face the shortage of food. We have to import it. So, poor agriculture is one of the causes of India’s poverty.
Growing population: Our population is growing rapidly. But our resources are limited. The growth in population creates problems for us. Today, our population is 1.20 billion; tomorrow we will be 1.21 billion and so on. We need more food, more houses, and more hospitals for them. So we have no money to spend on development projects. The ever-growing rate of population must be checked. If not, we may not be able to remove India’s poverty.
Gap between the rich and the poor: The widening gap between the rich and the poor is also responsible for India’s poverty. The rich are growing richer. The poor are growing poorer. This economic gap between the two must be reduced. Our social system should be changed. The poor people must get all help to reap the fruits of Independence.
Corruption and black-money: There are corruptions in every walk of life. There is inefficiency in offices. People have become selfish. They neglect the national interests. Black money causes the problem of rising prices. Some people have all the privileges. But many others are suffering. Black money affects our economy. It causes poverty.
Also read: Causes of Rural and Urban Poverty in India
Effects of poverty
- Illiteracy: Poor people constitutes greater share of illiterate population. Education becomes extremely difficult when people are deprived of basic necessities of life.
- Child Labor: In India, a large number of young boys and girls are engaged in child labour. Also read, article on Poverty and Child labour in India.
- Nutrition and diet: Poverty is the leading cause of insufficient diet and inadequate nutrition. The resources of poor people are very limited, and its effect can be seen in their diet.
- Poor living condition and Housing problems: The don’t get proper living conditions. They have to fight the hardship of poverty to secure food, clothes and shelter. A large number of poor families live in houses with one room only.
- Unemployment: Poor people move from villages to towns and form one town to another in search of employment/work. Since, they are mostly illiterate and un-skilled, there are very few employment opportunities open for them. Due to unemployment, many poor people are forced to live an unfulfilled life.
- Hygiene and sanitation: These people have little knowledge about hygiene and proper sanitation system. They are not aware of the harmful consequences of not maintaining proper hygiene. The government is taking initiatives to make available clean and safe water, and proper sanitation system to them.
- Feminization of poverty: Women are the worst victims of poverty. Poverty effects greater number of women then men. The total of poor women outnumbers the total population of poor men. The causes include low income, gender-inequality, etc. They are deprived of proper-diet, medicines and health treatment.
- Social tensions: Poverty is often characterized with income disparity and unequal distribution of national wealth between the rich and the poor. Concentration of wealth in the hands of few rich people lead to social disturbances and revolts. Fair or even distribution of wealth leads an overall improvement in general standard of living of people.
We have to solve this problem of India’s poverty.
- Farmers must get all facilities for irrigation.
- They should be trained and educated.
- Agriculture must be made profitable.
- The ever-rising population should be checked.
- Family planning schemes should be introduced.
- More and more industries should be set up to meet the needs of our country.
- Corruption must end. Our offices should work efficiently.
These are some of the ways by which our poverty can be removed.
Also read: How to Stop Poverty in India
Poverty is a national problem and it must be solved on a war footing. The government is taking a number of steps to mitigate poverty. Eradication of poverty would ensure a sustainable and inclusive growth of economy and society. We all should do everything possible and within our limits to help alleviate poverty from our country.
Also read: Complete Essay on Poverty in India
Last updated: 04.07.2015
Category: Essays, Paragraphs and ArticlesTagged With: Poverty in India