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Poverty in India Essay
India is the world’s largest democracy and fastest-growing economy. It is one of the chief developing nations with an international level of influence. Yet, it is still viewed as a poor man’s country.
Our Union, as well as State governments, have collaborated with many private and public sector institutions. Together they have been able to roll out successful schemes to keep their citizens satisfied. They are trying their best to provide us with our daily requirements.
Yet this task has not helped remove poverty at all. The situation of poverty in India cannot be solved by judging it by its face value. It is essential to understand the nature of polity in India through a historical context. That way, we would be able to find reforms that can be implemented to curb this social evil.
Origin of Poverty in India
From the earliest kingdoms to the Mughal era, India has always had a rich history. Historians had given the Indian sub-continent the title ‘Golden Bird’. The vast reserves of gold and resources were the major indicators of a prospering economy during that era.
Invaders over time, plundered these resources. And the economical health of this golden bird rapidly deteriorated. The most significant damage was done by the colonials. They entered our land as traders but slowly established their monopoly over various regions and services. And the entire sub-continent was then in their control.
Around the 19th and the 20th century, poverty bloomed under the British Raj. Industrial expansion and agricultural exports were increasing day by day. Farming was forced upon every labourer in India even when they were not farmers by profession.
Though employment existed in the form of farming, farmers were being underpaid. While Nawabs and Maharajas enjoyed wealth and privileges, the majority of these workers could not even buy one proper meal a day.
By 1943, poverty had reached a point where millions of people died of starvation, disease, and destitution (during the Bengal famine). Sir Antony MacDonnell, a civil servant of British India, quoted in the 1900’s “people died like flies”.
Poverty in Free India
Post-independence, India was divided into two different countries. This caused an inflow of refugees along the western border. This further aggravated the condition of poverty prevailing in the nation. According to B.S. Minhas, an economist, about 65% of the Indian population was living in poverty during the 1950’s.
In the 1960’s, a new poverty line was set for the country to be at ₹ 20 a month. The estimated percentage of the population below this line was found to be 44%. The following decades noticed the common man’s frustration about the poor economic condition of the nation. Slogans like ‘Garibi Hatao’ were being raised, and people were desperate to improve the condition of society.
Over the years, many committees redefined the poverty line as per the changing dynamics of the Indian economy. At present, as per the World Bank estimates, 5.4% of our population is still suffering from extreme poverty.
The figures have improved since the last century. Poverty can only be abolished if the developmental schemes keep evolving according to the needs of the country. Also, they need to be enforced thoroughly.
Poverty and its relation to India’s development
Poverty refers to a scenario wherein a section of society is excluded from the necessities of life. Though it is not their fault, the poor are denied many things. Their living conditions are ghastly. To them, development has been stagnated for years together.
To this date, we remain as one of the low-income developing countries. We are yet to create a huge impact in the global marketplace. With nearly 24% of people living under poverty, India faces grave developmental issues in the 21st century.
The low income per capita is a major problem that India needs to tackle. In 2014 it was about $1,560. In the same year, the per-capita Gross National Income (GNI) of the USA was 35 times that of India. And the same for China was five times higher than India.
Eradication of poverty depends on the development of the nation. Poverty will hence exist as long as the developmental issues stay in power. The vice versa is also true. As long as people remain impoverished, they would lack the wisdom for solving these issues.
Causes of Poverty in India
Many factors directly contribute to the continual rise of poverty in India. To address and solve them, we need first to identify these factors. Here we have listed down some of these causes:
- Demography of a country plays a vital role in its state of poverty. Rural areas have larger families who owe to a lower per capita income. Ultimately, this results in a low standard of living.
- The increasing urban population has raised the rate of poverty in our country. The migration of rural people to urban areas has diluted out the wages. People eventually get closer to the poverty line.
- One of the major economic causes includes the surge in unemployment. The survey reports of 2015 say that 77% of Indian families lack a regular source of income.
- India is marked for its unequal distribution of assets. These assets and shares are disproportionately distributed among masses having different economic levels. 20 % of our population is reaping the seeds of 80 % of the total wealth.
- The rich continue to grow richer. And poor people continue to suffer. The economic gap is alarmingly increasing day by day.
- People living in slum areas are mostly illiterate. They send their children to work because they cannot afford their education.
- Maximum economic value cannot be attained when we have an abundance of the unskilled labour force in our country.
- Moreover, the caste system has caused marginalization and discrimination of specific portions of our society. Some places still exist where lower caste people are treated as untouchables.
- Outdated farming techniques and poor agricultural infrastructure has affected the crop yield. As a result, farmers are not able to earn sufficient money for their families.
- Individuals who give in to gambling and drinking drain their family’s income. They leave their near and dear ones with poverty.
- Besides, corruption is one of the leading causes of poverty. The poor are being neglected, whereas the wealthy can bribe their way to get their jobs done.
Effects of Poverty in India
The effects of poverty are far-fetched. One of its most disturbing effects includes the overall health conditions. Poor people are often malnourished. Children are devoid of a balanced and nutritious diet.
Their poor immune system makes them prone to several ailments. Poverty makes them susceptible to anaemia, impaired vision, cardiac issues, etc. This is the reason why 38 out of every 1000 infants die before turning 1.
India’s economy is correlated to its poverty rate. Poverty determines the possibility of rendering adequate amenities to the underprivileged people of our society. And providing resources to the poor still drains our economy. This also impairs the productivity of individuals and increases their stress levels.
A poverty-ridden society is vulnerable to violence and crimes. Poor people indulge in criminal activities to feed themselves. Apart from that, homelessness is a typical outcome of poverty. This risks the safety of women and promotes child labour. It also increases terrorism.
Solutions for Ending Poverty in India
The following measures will help us fight against poverty in India:
- Increasing employment opportunities in India is a beneficial option.
- Farmers must be provided with proper agricultural resources. It will help them make a profit and will control their migration to urban regions (in search of jobs).
- Growing population must be checked. Schemes promoting birth control must be implemented.
- The gap between the rich and the poor must be narrowed down.
- The Government must invest in the poverty-stricken states of India.
- Free education and healthcare units must be set up.
- Public Distribution System must be effective in its duty. People below the poverty line must be able to access free food and fresh water.
- Illiterate labourers must be provided with skill-based training so that they can make a better living out of it.
- Most of all, corruption needs to end if we want to eradicate poverty.
Poverty is a social handicap that has been crippling India for centuries. And it must be dealt with immediately. It is the biggest barrier to our country’s development. However, if we identify the shortcomings and implements effective measures, India is soon bound to become a superpower.