Mains Daily Question
March 11, 2020

Q. India is still home to the largest number of poor. Discuss the underlying factors responsible for the prevalence of poverty in India and suggest strategy in order to accelerate poverty eradication in a sustainable manner? 


  • In brief define poverty with current statistics of poverty in the country.

  • Discuss the various causes of poverty in India.

  • Discuss the strategy to combat poverty.

  • Mention few of the government schemes in this regard.

  • Conclude with giving a way out to accelerate poverty eradication in a sustainable manner

Model Answer

Poverty is a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs and the person is unable to fulfil the basic necessities for the sustenance of life. According to the 2018 global Multidimensional Poverty Index(MPI) released by the UN, over 270 million people in India moved out of poverty in the decade since 2005-06. But India is home to 26% of the global extreme poor.  Global Hunger Index 2018 placed India at 103rd position out of 119 countries.

There are different dimensions to poverty in India such as:

 Economic causes:

  • Slow economic growth leads to increase in unemployment and poverty.

  • Decreased agricultural output due to unpredictable weather patterns leads to some serious inflation issues.

  • Due to inadequate industrialization in certain areas employment opportunities become limited.

  • Uneven concentration of wealth and resources in the country.

  • Unemployment and Under-employment.

Social causes:

  • Social evils like untouchability affects democratic rights like employment etc. which leads to poverty among certain lower castes.

  • Widespread ignorance and illiteracy: Uneducated people are unaware of their full potential which leads to limited earning sources.

  • Mass migration to cities causes increased competition in the employment sector especially in cities which leads to poverty even among the educated population.

  • High divorce rates and unequal employment opportunities to women leads to feminization of poverty.

Geographical Factors:

  • Selective fertility of land creates fertile islands in the country and the unfertile lands are

  • pushed towards poverty naturally.

  • Environmental and climatic factors include floods, droughts etc. 

Now there is more focus on job creation via entrepreneurship and converting job seeker into job creator through hand holding approach in terms of targeted loans under Mudra Scheme, Start-Up India, Stand-Up India, Aspire etc.

 Providing employment also mitigates poverty in following ways:

  • Better wages provide access to education as well as health care thus, providing future avenues of poverty alleviation

  • Increased Income also provides better access to government services, even if they are for free.

According to NITI Aayog, the strategy for combating poverty must rest on two approaches, that

is, that are:

  • Sustained rapid growth that is also employment intensive and

  • Making anti-poverty programs even more effective.

Thus, rapid growth alone is not a sufficient condition for rapid expansion of social spending, but it is a necessary condition nonetheless. There needs to be focus on combating Poverty through efficient anti-poverty programmes as well to ensure direct help to the poor in terms of addressing specific aspects of poverty such as food and nutrition, water, toilets, literacy, health etc.:


Various steps taken by the government to mitigate poverty:

  • National Food Security Act: Providing 75% rural population and 50% urban population with 5 kg of food grains per month, ensuring health and prospects of coming out of poverty.

  • MGNREGA: provides with specified wage in a given year to unskilled labour, thus providing them some source of income, thereby increasing their purchasing power for essential needs.

  • Housing for All- rural and Urban to enable affordable asset creation for poor covering shelter part for the poor.

  • In order to make anti-poverty programs effective, the government has taken a lot of efforts like channelizing the potential of JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar, and Mobile) trinity, providing biometric identity to the poor to avail the benefits of government schemes. 

These direct measures towards poverty reduction are required to support poor families to ensure basic necessities are available and accessible for the poor. At the same time, job creation is also important to empowering them so that they continue to fulfil their needs.

 To have sustainable poverty reduction, these areas must be focused:

  • Accelerate rural poverty reduction: Capitalize on growing connectivity between rural and urban areas, and between the agriculture, industry and services sectors, has been effective in reducing poverty.

  • Creating more and better jobs: Efforts are needed to address tepid job creation in labour intensive sectors.

  • More focus is required on the low participation of women in the labour market and the slow progress among Scheduled Tribes.

  • Smart Cities along with Smart Villages are required (PURA model).

  • Improve human development outcomes for the poor which are central to improving their quality of life.

  • Special Employment Schemes for the Poor such as MGNREGA.

  • Need to incorporate technology for identification of beneficiaries to prevent leakages of various subsidies, adopt direct benefit transfers such as in PDS.

  • Revolutionizing the anti-poverty programmes by replacing the current cumbersome and checking the leakages in the distribution of benefits.

  • Adopting a holistic definition of poverty should be considered instead of the current expenditure-based poverty line etc.

Poverty is a multi-faceted problem so the solution also needs to be a multi-faceted one. We have taken leaps in poverty reduction with the increased employment based growth and efficient anti-poverty scheme implementation, but more needs to be done to take poverty heads on. Overcoming poverty should be seen as a fundamental right of the citizens and should be given its due importance.

Subjects : Polity
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