Poverty is an economic and philosophical, political and social phenomenon. One third of the world’s population is living in poverty in spite of the achievements of mankind in the scientific and technological fields. Poor people are not only the individual members of a society, but also the entire countries and even continents. The worst part is that poverty makes a negative impact on all spheres of life.
The issue of poverty is far more acute in India as it is widespread in all areas of society. A person who is unable to maintain the required level of life is poor. According to World Bank survey, lots of people are living on less than $1 a day in India. Thus, there are over 220 million of people living below the poverty threshold in India. This is almost 25 percent of the total number of residents (Gupta 2). This fact demonstrates the scale and depth of poverty in the country. Even if, the proportion of poor people has fallen to some extent during the past years; however, the absolute numbers could not become rapidly different. Although India had achieved independence, it has not been able to cope with the problem of poverty.
World Bank study shows that one third of the population is poor in India. Level of malnutrition among children (up to 3 years) is one of the highest in comparison with other countries. In a state of poverty, local residents go to extremes in order to stay alive. Some children go to work instead of studying at an early age. Others become beggars or collectors of garbage as a secondary raw material. In such a way, they can feed themselves and their families. A great number of poor families work round- the- clock. Women carry bricks on their heads; even little girls become accustomed to such hard work from an early age. Such scenes excite pity.
The poorest category of people does not live with the other lasses. Slums are the place of their residence. Some people are unable to maintain their families in the countryside. That is why villagers migrate to cities in search of work. If they can not find an additional income in the city, they have no money to pay for rent. As a result, those people arrive on the outskirts of the city and form numerous slums there (Malik 46). In other words, miles of strange buildings and debris are homes to many of poor Indians.
Low level of health service and education indicate the issue of poverty in India. Proper education can help people in inventing the strategy for their own development and progress. However, Indian education is at a very low level. It alienates people instead of brining them together and strengthening a sense of empowerment. Apart from education, health service is one more indicator of poverty in the country. Most Indian people do not have a sense of health, proper dieting and sanitation. Moreover, they have lots of problems relating to health (Malik 6).
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Poverty level is higher in rural areas. Hence, most alleviation measures are taken in order to reduce rural poverty. These measures are divided into following categories: self-employment and wage-employment programs, social security and food safety programs (Malik 77).
Integrated Rural Development Program belongs to self-employment programs. It was started in rural countries in order to increase the source of income of small farmers. However, banks refused to provide credits to the poor unskilled landless laborers. Taking into account the drawbacks of this program, the government replaced it with Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana. This program was focuses on the organization of poor people into self-help groups of 10 to 20 members in order to join them to the economic development of the country.
Jawahar Rozgar Yojana Prograam is one of the wage-employment programs, which main purpose was to provide a livelihood during drought and flood periods in India. JRY was aimed to improve the village infrastructure and reduce the unemployment rate. Then the program was revised and named as Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana. Creating the economic infrastructure for the village was a new objective of the program. However, JGSY was even less effective than the previous one. Later on all wage employment programs were combined into one program – Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana. Its objective was a nutrition and employment security and infrastructure creation.
In regard to food security program, Public Distribution System assumes importance. Those who are below the poverty threshold are faced with the problem of access to food. The malnutrition is observed in all age groups. Creating a demand for food grains was the main objective of PDB. One of its disadvantages was the fact that a quota of the food grains was increased to 20 kg. As a result, the poorest could not buy such large quantity of food grains at once. PDS had a great potential in protecting the poor from starvation, however, some implementation problems have reduced its potential (Malik 83).
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Social security programs are needed for those who are facing destitution. National Social Assistance Program, Annapurna, National Family Benefit Scheme and National Maternity Benefit Scheme were launched by government in order to provide help by means of money payment or food supplying to those who are below the poverty line (Gupta 61).
Poverty reduction has been a major goal of government since independence. However, this problem will be easier to overcome with people’s participation in the process of its solving. Stimulation of people’s own ideas for a better life is the best way to ensure the success of governmental efforts.