Poverty and India: An overview, Download PDF

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

Poverty is the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and lack of participation in decision-making. Poverty is a multidimensional social phenomenon. Definitions of poverty and its causes vary by gender, age, culture, and other social and economic contexts. What constitutes poverty has always been a contentious issue. This primarily flows from the fact that poverty and in a broader sense deprivation is a cultural construct specific to a point in time. It is inconceivable that the sense of what constitutes poverty would remain unchanged as society becomes wealthier, incomes rise and modern amenities become widely available. Progress by its very nature inherently does and should recalibrate the very notion of what constitutes poverty and deprivation.

Extreme poverty has long been defined by the World Bank as living on or below $1.25 a day, but the World Bank’s adjustment in October 2015, now sets the poverty line at $1.90 a day.

According to the Human Rights Commission’s Report3, the concept of poverty can be stated in three different ways.

  • The first and most effective definition of poverty is that Poverty is a situation in which there is a dearth of essential facilities, resulting from inadequate income’.
  • The second definition of poverty is based on basic or fundamental needs, i.e. a failure to meet the basic human needs; or to remain deprived of such needs is a state of poverty. The basic human needs include not only food, clothing, and dwelling, but also health and education.
  • The third way of defining poverty is in respect of lack of opportunities. The tacit denial of opportunities pushes them into unemployment resulting in loss of income and finally inability to meet the basic human needs. Here, the emphasis is shifted from the individual to the surroundings.

2015 marked the transition from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals. The MDGs played an important role in galvanizing global development, yet with a projected 700 million people living under $1.90 a day in 2015, extreme poverty still remains unacceptably high. It has also become more concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The very first goal out of the 17 goals mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals is “No Poverty- End Poverty in all its forms everywhere” which has been adopted by UNGA in the “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

Researchers at Brookings Institution have opined that it is Nigeria that is home to the highest number of people in extreme poverty. This means India isn’t topping the charts anymore. Does this mean this has led to India winning the battle against poverty? Let us examine various nuances related to poverty in India below.

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