Poverty: Poverty in India, Reasons, Estimation, Definition | UPSC Notes

By K Balaji|Updated : June 30th, 2022

Poverty is the condition of lack of income to support a sustainable livelihood or a minimum standard of living. Traditionally Poverty refers to the only lack of the basic necessities of life, but modern economists have extended the term to include access to education, healthcare, and even transportation.

Estimation of Poverty in India is carried out by the NITI AAyog’s task force the calculation of the poverty line. The calculation is made with the help of data captured by the National Sample Survey Office under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI). Estimation of poverty in India is made on the basis of consumption expenditure, and not by income levels.

Poverty finds its relevance in the UPSC Syllabus, and every UPSC aspirant must know about the poverty and developmental issues, poverty alleviation programs in India, and other related information relating to poverty that would help candidates prepare for the UPSC CSE exam.

Table of Content

What is Poverty?

Poverty definition in India is the state in which an individual or a group lacks the financial means and necessities of a basic level of living.

  • It is also defined as a situation in which one’s earnings are not enough to meet the basic human requirements.
  • The World Bank defines poverty as the individuals living less than $1.90 per day which is also known as the International poverty line.
  • In India, the National poverty threshold is given by Tendulkar Committee.

Reasons for Poverty in India

Poverty in India can be seen due to various factors such as government-related issues, economic reasons, social causes, etc. Let’s take a brief look at all these factors below.

Governance-related Issue

  • Low tax base, high tax evasion, and avoidance by rich people.
  • Formation of a vicious cycle where people are poor and hence low tax collection and which in turn lead to the lower expenditure of on welfare scheme on poor.
  • Regional inequality like in North East and East India leads to poverty as well as the emergence of issues like Naxalism which further breeds poverty.
  • Corruption and leakages in government schemes and Programmes.
  • The poor condition of health and education infrastructure could have been an accelerator for poverty removal.
  • Lack of infrastructures like roads, connectivity, and electricity hinders Employment generation and the attraction of private investment.

Economic reason

  • Disguise unemployment in agriculture and Agriculture is not a profitable sector as more than 50% population are engaged in agriculture still it contributes to just around 15% of GDP. It shows that most of the poor people are concentrated in the agriculture sector.
  • jobless growth which is witnessed after 1990 where although the GDP size has increased most of the jobs created in skilled sectors and hence income do not get downward filtrated to the lower strata of people.

Social causes

  • The prevailing caste system and social condition which forces the lower caste to do the menial work and poverty keep on passing to the next generation.
  • Gender discrimination and patriarchy lead to lower female labor force participation, and sexual harassment in the workplace and lead to lower wages and perpetual poverty for women.
  • Lack of family planning and high birth rate.

Some New Miscellaneous Emerging Issues :

  • Climate change and its negative impact on agriculture productivity and extra burden on adaptation and mitigation for the Poor. It impacts people's income and livelihood opportunities.
  • The aftermath of the covid-19 crisis: Surge in the unemployment rate and due to the extra burden on health substantial populations have had been pushed below the poverty line.

Poverty Estimation in India

Poverty estimation in India is done by NITI Aayog’s task force through the calculation of the poverty line.

  • Estimation of poverty in India is based on the consumption of expenditure and not income levels.
  • Poverty is measured based on the National Sample Survey Organisation and consumer expenditure surveys.
  • The ratio of the number of poor to the total population expressed as a percentage to calculate the incidence of poverty.
  • Alagh Committee (1979) determined poverty line based on the requirement of 2400 to 2100 calories for an adult in Rural and Urban area respectively.
  • Lakdawala Committee 1993, Rangarajan Committee (2012), and Tendulkar Committee (2009) did the poverty estimation.

Poverty Definition in India

Poverty in India can be defined as follows

  • Alagh committee (1979): it is based on the calorie intake 2100(Urban area) and rural 2400(Rural area).
  • Lakdawala (1993): Along with calorie intake added clothing and shelter.
  • Suresh Tendulkar committee (2005-09): Shifted calories to per capita monthly expenditure and decided monthly expenditure of 816 for rural areas and 1000 for an urban area.
  • C. Rangarajan Committee (2012-14): Monthly expenditure for a family of 5 for rural areas 4860 and for urban areas 7035.
  • SECC( socio-economic caste census): Although it is not made to count poverty but is used to decide beneficiaries for various government sector schemes.

Poverty and Developmental issues

The more are the people below the poverty line the less will be the social capital and human capital of that country. It hinders the country's economic growth and international stature.

  • There is a scope of getting converted population dividend into population disaster.
  • It proves to be a breeding ground for separatism, left-wing extremism(Naxalism), and regionalism and thus hinders Development which makes a vicious cycle of poverty.
  • People with a lack of financial resources are not in a position to provide quality education and health facility to the next generation and hence people are trapped in inter-generational poverty.
  • The poor people are more vulnerable to the exploitation by coercive corruption, forced labor, and sexual exploitation and thus have been the major cause for concern for the human rights violation

Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India

Following are the Poverty alleviation programmes in india

Employment generation programme:

  • MGNREGA: it promises to give minimum hundred days of unskilled manual work to rural households.
  • Skill India and stand up India.
  • National Rural Livelihood Mission which provides skills and loans in rural areas.

Contain Hunger: Hunger is intricately linked to property and for the removal of poverty programs like the Public Distribution System(PDS) one Nation one ration card scheme and Mid-day meal scheme are being run by the government

Health: Schemes like Janani Suraksha Yojana, PM Matru Vandana Yojana Ayushman Bharat, Mission Indradhanush, etc. targeted to reduce MMR and IMR.

Social security scheme: PM KISAN, Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM-SYM), Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, financial inclusion like Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana.

Poverty-Way Forward

Economic Survey suggested Universal basic income to eliminate exclusion and inclusion errors and to check the leakage in government schemes.

  • The government recently started e-RUPI (cashless voucher-based mode of payment )which need to be extended to different schemes for targeted transfer.
  • More focus on regional equality gender equality and developing infrastructure in backward regions.
  • Push for Employment generation in employment-intensive sectors like the food processing industry, textile sector, and tourism.
  • Further improving ease of doing business and credit intake, formalization of the economy will go in a long way toward creating employment and innovation.
  • It has been rightly said that Poverty anywhere is a threat to everywhereas poverty makes fertile ground for terrorism, cessationism, and National and international peace. SDG goal Number 1 talks about ending poverty in all its forms. Hence, international and national cooperation is needed to contain and check the poverty.

Poverty UPSC

Poverty is mentioned in GS-1 of the UPSC Mains under the poverty and developmental issues, and also in GS-2 as issues related to poverty and hunger. Further, government schemes are one of the favorite areas in the UPSC Prelims and most of the government schemes are centered around poverty elimination so it is also important in UPSC Mains. Even in the Essay, one of the Essays is generally centered around poverty. Poverty Notes can be used for GS 1 to 4 of the UPSC Mains Syllabus.

Poverty UPSC Notes PDF

It would be wise to have a PDF format of the Poverty Notes while preparing for the UPSC Exam. Poverty is an imperative part of the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus. Additionally, questions from Poverty can be asked during the Interview round and that’s why candidates need to be fully equipped with the Poverty UPSC Notes. We have provided a direct link to download the PDF file of Poverty below.

>> Download Poverty UPSC Notes PDF

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FAQs on Poverty

  • Poverty is the condition of lack of income to support a sustainable livelihood which includes food, shelter, sanitation, education, and Health.

  • The things which are measured is also acted upon. Further, India has a Welfare state so, it is the duty of the government to check the impoverishment caused by poverty. It is also added under different directives in PART 4 of the constitution. Also, the Identification of the poor is needed for the targeted delivery of schemes

  • MGNREGA, Public Distribution System, Janani Suraksha Yojana, PM Matru Vandana Yojana Ayushman Bharat, Mission Indradhanush, PM KISAN, Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM-SYM), Atal Pension Yojana, ​​Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana.

  • Issues like hindrances in the identification of the poor, Inclusion and exclusion error in schemes, corruption, Inadequate employment generation, and prevailing social issues are the major reason.

  • Universal Basic Income, Direct Benefit transfer, Ease of Doing Business, Employment generation in Employment intensive sectors.

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