The problem of poverty is an economic problem. It is one of the most important problems that India is facing today. Poverty is one of the important challenges in many developing countries. In past times India was known as ‘Sone ki Chiriya’ or ‘Land of Plenty’ was full of riches.
But coming of the Turks, the Mughals, the Arabs, the Mongols and the British for extending their empires or for trade depleted its resources to a great extent, and today, poverty is a harsh reality for a large section of the Indian population.
The Meaning of Poverty:
Poverty is a situation in which a person is unable to get minimum basic necessities of life, i.e. food, clothing and shelter for his or her sustenance. It is defined as the state of person or family to take care of basic needs. Such as food, clothing and housing. Denial of minimum consumption needs causes human misery.
Nature of Poverty in India:
According to the Human Development Report of 1977, poverty is the denial of opportunities, to lead a long, healthy creative life and to enjoy a decent standard of living, freedom, dignity, self-respect and the respect of others. Hungers are the extreme situation of poverty.
Measurement of Poverty:
In our country, we might see some of our neighbors finding it difficult to get food even twice a day. Some children in our neighborhood may look weak and highly malnourished because they do not get sufficient and nutritious food. They may not even be having enough clothes to wear. In our country larger section of people are deprived of these basic necessities.
During 1999-2000 about 26 crore people in India are reported to be poverty ridden. In 1999 using income approach the government found 720 lakh families living below poverty line.
Poverty line is drawn on the basis of minimum desirable nutritional standards of calorie intake. Poverty line is a line of measurement to judge the intensity of poverty prevailing among different classes of the people. In 1999-2000, 26.02 crore people were living below the poverty line. According to the UNDP Human Development Report 2003, India is home to the largest number of hungry people 23.3 million.
The Causes of Poverty in India:
The problem of poverty is grim in India. In Orissa, extreme poverty has forced parents to sell their children for money. Poverty leads to many ills in the society. Illiteracy, child labour, crime, corruption and prostitution are some of them. Poverty is the cumulative effect of many factors operating in the Indian society. One of the main causes of poverty in our country is the continuous population growth.
All the progress made by us is neutralized by the alarming rise of population. Illiteracy is also another important cause of poverty in our country. Because of their illiteracy the farmers in the villages and workers in the towns are cheated by everybody and they roam about as a man in the wilderness. In the rural areas poverty is mainly due to low and base. It largely emanates from the semi-feudal relations of production in the agriculture unemployment, both in the urban and the rural areas are forced to lead the life of want and hunger.
Improper sectoral investment and widening inequalities of incomes are also responsible for aggravating poverty. Social factors like-large size of families, law of inheritance, caste-system, and corruption are also responsible for prevalence of poverty-ridden people.
Removal of Poverty:
Since Independence, removal of poverty has been one of the major objectives of the economic planning in India. Several land reforms measures such as abolition of Zamindari system, security of tenant farmers, and fixation of rents and distribution of surplus land among small and landless farmers were undertaken by the government.
Cottage and small-scale industries, which employ more labourers and less machinery, were encouraged. Efforts for the development of green revolution and heavy industries have been made to create employment opportunities and incomes.
In the 1980s the government has undertaken some of the poverty alleviation programmes. Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) was launched in April 1999 to help the families below poverty line by providing financial assistance and technology arrangement. Another programme Jawahar Gra Samridhi Yojana (JGSY) was generating employment for those men and women who do not get sufficient days of employment in rural areas.
Prime Ministers Rozgar Yozna (PMRY) and Swaranajayanti Shahari Rojgar Yojana (SJSRY) were launched to provide self-employment to the educated unemployed in the urban areas. Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS and Pradhanmantri Gramodya Yojana (PMGY) were launched in 1999 and 2000-01 respectively. The objective of these schemes was to create wage employment for families below poverty line and improving the quality of life in rural areas.
Eradication of poverty needs very great strength. We have been able to alleviate poverty to some extent through various governmental programmes and schemes. The benefits did not percolate to the lower levels too much because of adverse institutional framework.
Finally, the objective of removal of poverty can be fulfilled if the poor themselves become conscious improve their education and capabilities, become organized and assert themselves.