Poverty as a Challenge,
Question 1. Describe how poverty line is estimated in India.
(a) While determining the poverty line in India, a minimum level of food requirement, clothing, footwear, fuel and light educational and medical requirement etc are determined for subsistence. These physical quantities are multiplied by their price in rupees.
(b) The present formula for food requirement while estimating the poverty line is based on the desired calorie requirement.
(c) Food items such a cereals, pulses, vegetables, milk, oil, sugar etc together provide these needed calories. The need of calories depends on age and the work done by a person.
(d) The accepted average calorie requirement in India is 2400 calories per person per day in rural areas and 2100 calories per person per day in urban areas.
(e) The calorie requirement of the people in rural areas is higher than that of the people living in urban areas because they do more physical work as compared to urban people.
(f) On the basis of these calculations for the year 2000, the poverty line for a person was fixed at ₹ 328 per month for the rural areas and ₹ 454 for the urban areas.
Question 2. Do you think the present methodology of poverty estimation is appropriate?
Answer : No, the present methodology of poverty estimation is in appropriate because it takes into account only the basic needs of food clothing, fuel, etc. But the quality of these basic necessities is the lowest quality available, which is not appropriate.
(a) The amount which is fixed as the poverty line does not include the margin for price fluctuations and price rise which is constantly occurring.
(b) The poverty line should include some correction for inflation and to take care of the market fluctuations.
Question 3. Describe the poverty trends in India since 1973.
There was a substantial decline in poverty ratios in India from about 55 % in 1973 to 36 % in 1993.
(a) The proportion of people below poverty line further came down to about 26 % in 2000.
(b) If the trend continues, people below poverty line may come down to less than 20 % in the next few years.
(c) Although the percentage of the people living under poverty declined in the earlier two decades (1973-1993) the number of poor remained stable around 320 million for a fairly long period.
(d) The latest estimates Indicate a significant reduction in the number of poor to about 260 million.
Question 4. Discuss the major reasons for poverty in India.
The various causes of poverty in India are Colonial Economic Policies
(a) One historical reason of poverty in India is the low level of economic development under the British colonial administration
(b) The policies of the colonial government ruined traditional handicrafts and discouraged developments of industries and textiles.
(c) The low rate of growth persisted until the 1980’s. This resulted in less job opportunities and low growth rate of incomes.
(d) The government failure on both fronts. i.e.. promotion of economic growth and population control perpetuated the cycle of poverty.
Not Enough Jobs in Industries
The Industries set up in the public and private sector provided jobs to many people but the number of job seekers was far more than tile jobs available and a large number of people remained unemployed leading to poverty.
Revolution and Employment
(a) The Green Revolution enabled multiple cropping or growing of 2 to 3 crops in, year, which created demand for labour in the agriculture sector. However, the Green Revolution was limited mainly to Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh and provided limited opportunities of work.
(b) The poor farmers could not buy inputs for farming and landholdings were small. Thus their production was low and the poor peasant families could hardly survive.
(c) The poor, especially in rural areas had to take loans for farming inputs and many times were unable to repay the loan. Thus they fell into a debt trap, leading to a worse situation.
(d) Another cause of poverty has been the huge income inequalities.
One of the major reasons for this is the unequal distribution of land and other resources.
(e) Many communities like the Dalits, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes had traditionally been deprived of education, land and social status.
Consequently, they have not been able to raise their standard of living in the absence of education, land and other resources.
(f) To fulfill social obligations and observe religious ceremonies, people in India including the very poor, spend a lot of money. They hardly have any savings, so they borrow money and are unable to repay the loans because of low income, thus falling into a debt trap leading to extreme poverty.
(g) Small farmers need money to buy agricultural inputs like seeds fertilisers, pesticides etc tor which they have to take loans which they are unable to repay, thus tailing into a debt trap leading to extreme poverty.
Question 5. Identify the economic and social groups which are most vulnerable to poverty in India.
(a) The social groups which are most vulnerable to poverty are scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households.
(b) Similarly, among the economic groups, the most vulnerable groups are the rural agricultural labour households and the urban casual labour households.
Question 6. Give an account of interstate disparities of poverty in India.
(a) The proportion of poor people is not the same in every state.
(b) Government has made many efforts to reduce poverty by following various programmes but the success rate of reducing poverty is different in different states.
(c) In 20 states and union territories the poverty ratio is less than the national average.
(d) Poverty is still a serious problem in Orissa, Bihar, Assam, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.
(e) Orissa and Bihar continue to be the two poorest states with poverty ratios of 47% and 43 % respectively.
(f) There has been a significant decline in poverty in Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and West Bengal.
(g) States like Punjab and Haryana have traditionally succeeded in reducing poverty with the help of agricultural growth rates.
(h) In West Bengal, land reform measures have helped in reducing poverty
(i) In Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, public distribution of Food grain has been responsible for the reduction of poverty.
Question 7. Describe global poverty trends.
Answer : The proportion of people in developing countries living in extreme economic poverty i.e, on less than $ 1 per day as defined by World Bank has fallen from 28 % in 1990 to 21 % in 2001.
There has been a substantial reduction in global poverty, but it is marked with great regional differences
(a) Poverty declined substantially in China and South Asian countries as a result of rapid economic growth and massive development.
(b) The number of poor in China has come down from 606 million 1981 to 212 million in 2001.
(c) In the countries of South Asia ( India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan) the decline has not been so rapid, it has declined marginally from 475 million in 1981 to 428 million in 2001.
(d) In the Sub Saharan Africa, poverty rose from 41 % in 1981 to 46 % in 2001.
(e) In Latin America the ratio of poverty has remained the same.
(f) Poverty has resurfaced in some of the former socialist countries like Russia, where it was non-existent earlier.
Question 8. Describe current government strategy of poverty alleviation.
The current anti-poverty strategy of the government is based broadly on two planks Promotion of Economic Growth
(a) India’s economic growth gained momentum and since the eighties has been one of the fastest in the world.
(b) The growth rate jumped from the average of about 3.5 % a year in 1970’s to 6 ‘o during the 1980’s and 1990’s.
(c) The higher growth rates have helped significantly in the reduction of poverty.
(d) It is becoming clear that there is a strong link between economic growth and poverty reduction.
(e) Economic growth widens opportunities and provides resources to invest in human development.
(f) This also encourages people to send their children. including girls. to schools in the hope of getting better economic returns from investing In education.
Targeted Anti-Poverty Programmes
Promotion of economic growth was a long term time solution to the problems. but a need was felt for short term target oriented anti-poverty programmes which the government ultimately undertook. Some of the programmes to remove poverty are
(a) National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) 2005
(b) National Food for Work Programme (NFWP) 2004
(c) Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) 1993
(d) Rural Employment Generation Programme.(REGP) 1995
(e) Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) 1999
(f) Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yozana (PMGY) 2000
(g) Antyodaya Anna Yozana (AAY)
Question 9. Answer the following questions briefly
- What do you understand by human poverty?
- Who are the poorest of the poor?
- What are the main features of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005?
(i) Human poverty is a definition of poverty which takes us beyond the general definitions of poverty i.e, not having enough money. Being able to earn a fixed amount as set by the government as poverty line does not actually free them from poverty.
A person who is unable to get proper education and shelter and nutritious food, or if a child is forced to child labour or they face social and caste discrimination, then they come under human poverty.
(ii) Women, elderly people and female infants are the poorest of the poor is society.
Women, elderly people and the girl child are systematically denied equal access to the resources available in the family. That is why they and considered the poorest of the poor.
(iii) The main features of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 are
(a) The act provides 100 days assured employment every year to every rural household in 200 districts. Later the scheme will be extended to 600 districts.
(b) 1/3rd of the proposed jobs would be reserved for women.
(c) The central government will also establish National employment Guarantee Funds. Similarly, the State Government will also establish the State Employment Guarantee Funds for the implementation the scheme.
(d) Under the scheme if an applicant is not provided employment within 15 days he/she will be entitled to a daily unemployment allowance.