(The Problem of Poverty in India. Questions taken from ISC Economic published by Frank Bros.Suitable for class XI ISC schools)
Q1.What do you mean by the "Poverty Line" in the Indian context. Explain the extent of poverty in India.
Poverty is defined as that situation in which an individual fails to earn income sufficient to buy him the bare means of subsistence. "Bare means of subsistence" consists of minimum quantities of cereals,pulses,milk butter etc. If a person does not have sufficient income to enable him to purchase this he is categorized as poor.
To measure the number of poor people in the country the concept of poverty line is used.Poverty line has been defined in term of food poverty.The poverty line indicates the income level which is just sufficient to buy the basic minimum quantity of food required for subsistence. The Planning Commission has defined the poverty line in terms of nutritional requirement of 2,400 calories per day per person for rural areas and 2,100 calories for urban areas.
During the period of 1956-57 about 65% of the rural population was below the poverty line. This decreased to about 46% in 1973-74.The percentage of urban poverty was about 50% during this period.The total number of people below poverty during this period was about 215 million. However, with the increasing GDP poverty has been coming down steadily. Only 22% of the population was estimated to be below poverty in 2004-05. On account of the population increase the total number of people below poverty is estimated to be about 260 million.
Q2."Despite economic growth massive poverty continues to exist in the country". How would you explain this phenomenon?
Upto the Fourth Plan, the government focused on economic growth to reduce poverty. It was thought that the trickle down effect of economic growth would reduce poverty. However, inspite of economic growth, poverty continues to exist in the country on account of the big increases in population.The current economic growth of about 8% cannot eliminate poverty as long as the population keeps increasing.Besides, on account of the lack of education the benefits of economic growth has not percolated to the less educated groups and the weaker sections of the society. Economic growth has been driven by the growth in the service sector. As a result the rural poor have not significantly benefited by this growth and therefore poverty continues to exist in this country.
Q3.Discuss briefly three special poverty alleviation programmes presently in operation in India.
Since the Fifth Five Year plan onwards (1974-79)Poverty Alleviation Programmes(PAP) have been an integral part of the attack on the problem of poverty.Various Poverty Alleviation Programmes have been launched to eliminate poverty.These schemes generate employment for the poor residing in rural areas and small towns. Some of these are:
Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yogna
Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana
Employment Assurance Scheme
Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana
Food for Work Programme
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
Prime Minister's Rozgar Yogna
A detailed description of three of these are :
Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS): EAS was implemented from October 1993 in 1778 backward blocks situated in drought prone, desert,tribal and hilly areas. It was subsequently expanded to all rural blocks in the country.The cost of this scheme was shared by the Center and State governments in the ratio of 75:25.
The two main objective of the EAS are:
- to provide 100 days of work for 2 members of a rural family in an agricultural lean season.This is to create wage employment opportunities for rural people living below the poverty line.
- to use this scheme to provide the community with a durable productive community asset like irrigation canals,roads etc.
Food for Work Programme(FWP):This programme was launched in 2001.This programme was launched in drought affected rural areas of eight states. Under this scheme wage employment was created. Wages were paid party in foodgrains and partly in cash.This scheme was implemented by state governments.The Central Government helped the state government by providing food grain to be used as wage payment,free of cost.
Indira Awaas Yojana(IAY):This scheme is a poverty alleviation program used for constructing houses go be given to the poor.The rural poor were employed for the construction of houses for the poor,SC/ST and freed bonded labourers. This scheme is funded by the center and the states in the ratio of 75:25. Upto the end of 2006 153 lakh houses have been constructed under this scheme.
Q4.Assess the efficacy of poverty alleviation programme in the country.
Poverty alleviation programmes have been implemented from the Fifth Five year plan (1974-79). Since independence till the early 1970's there was no significant reduction of poverty in India. However, after the introduction of poverty alleviation programmes there has been a significant reduction in poverty.
The main achievement of the Poverty Alleviation Programmes are:
- the population below poverty has reduced from 55% in 1974-79 to 26% in 1999-2000.A 29% reduction in poverty is a significant achievement.
- the introduction of PAP has lead to an increase in wages in their area of operation.
- nutrition level of the poorest has improved.
- about half the increase in the income of the poor has been account of PAP.
All these achievements in about 17 years indicates that Poverty Alleviation Programmes have been successful in the country.