Poverty As Challenge
Question 1: Describe how the poverty line is estimated in India?
Answer: As per 2011-12 figures; a family of five which is earning less than Rs. 4,080 per month is considered to be living below the poverty line. This figure is Rs. 5,000 per month for the urban area.
The expected calorie intake has been fixed at 2400 calories per person in rural areas and 2100 calories in urban areas. A person consuming less than this amount is considered to be living below the poverty line.
Question 2: Do you think that present methodology of poverty estimation is appropriate?
Answer: Any method of poverty estimation cannot be appropriate. However, the current methods give some starting point to discuss the issue and to tackle the problem. The goal of poverty alleviation is a moving target because definition of poverty changes with time. Once the basic needs of all the people are fulfilled then some higher needs would need to be taken into account to address the issue of poverty.
Question 3: Describe poverty trends in India since 1973?
Answer: The percentage of poor people has declined from 54.9% in 1973 to 26.1% in 2001. This shows a significant decline. However, the absolute number of poor has remained more or less static at 320 million. Recently it has declined to 260 million.
Question 4: Discuss the major reasons for poverty in India?
Answer: The British policies during the colonial rule were not in favour of the local economy. Traditional handicrafts declined and not much of the modern industries could develop during that period. This is considered to be a major reason for abject poverty in India at the time of independence.
The low growth rate persisted till 1980s. This was coupled with a high growth rate in population and resulted in a higher number of poor.
Green Revolution helped in reviving the agricultural sector but its effect was limited to certain parts of the country; mainly in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh.
The secondary sector did not generate enough employment opportunities. This forced many rural migrants to go for unskilled works.
Inequality of income is another major reason of poverty in India. In spite of land reform initiatives, a major portion of land is in the hands of a selected few and a large portion of farmers are landless.
There are many socio-cultural factors which also contribute to poverty. An average Indian has to spend huge amount on marriage and other rituals because of socio-cultural pressure. This creates a heavy drain on savings.
Question 5: Identify the social and economic groups which are most vulnerable to poverty in India.
Answer: Scheduled tribes, scheduled castes, rural agricultural workers and urban casual labourers are the most vulnerable socioeconomic group in India.