Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development

Poverty is a condition where people lack adequate economic resources to fulfill their day-to-day basic requirements. According to the World Bank, ‘Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. Poverty also encompasses low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one’s life.’

Poverty is classified into two types:- 

Absolute Poverty: A state in which household income falls below the amount required to sustain basic living standards (food, shelter, housing). This condition allows for comparisons across nations as well. The “dollar a day” poverty level, originally proposed in 1990, defined absolute poverty by the criteria of the world’s poorest countries. The World Bank reset it to $1.90 per day in October 2015.
Relative Poverty: It is described from a social standpoint as a living standard in comparison to the economic standards of the surrounding population. As a result, it is a measure of income disparity. Typically, relative poverty is defined as the percentage of the population earning less than a certain percentage of median income.

Quick Facts:

  • As per the 2011 census In India, 21.9% of the population lives below the national poverty line.  In India, the number of people living in extreme poverty — defined by the World Bank as living on US$1.9 or less in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms — was 0.8% of the population in the pre-pandemic year 2019, stated the IMF paper, published on April 5, 2022. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty, at less than 1%, remained steady even during the pandemic

  • In 2018, almost 8% of the world’s workers and their families lived on less than US$1.90 per person per day as per international poverty line.

Causes of poverty in India 

  • Population Explosion: India’s population has gradually expanded over time. It has increased at a pace of 2.2% per year during the last 45 years, which implies that around 17 million people are added to the country’s population each year. This greatly boosts the demand for consumer products.

  • Low Agricultural Productivity: The agricultural sector’s low productivity is a key source of poverty. The causes for low productivity in the sector are numerous. It’s primarily due to fragmented land holdings, lack of capital infusion, ignorance about modern agricultural technology,  use of conventional farming practices, losses incurred due to inadequate storage, and so on. There is underemployment and disguised unemployment, notably in the agricultural sector. As a result, agricultural productivity has been poor, living standards have fallen and there has been underutilization of resources. 

  • Price Rise: Price rise has been steady in the country and this has added to the burden the poor carry. Although a few people have benefited from this, the lower income groups have suffered because of it, and are not even able to satisfy their basic minimum wants. 

  • Unemployment: Another element contributing to poverty in India is unemployment. The ever-increasing population has resulted in an increase in the number of job searchers. However, the growth of prospects is insufficient to meet the demand for work.

  • Lack of Capital and Entrepreneurship: A lack of capital and entrepreneurship leads to a low level of economic investment and employment creation.

  • Social Barriers: In addition to economic constraints, there are social factors impeding poverty elimination in India. Some of the obstacles in this respect are inheritance laws, the caste system, etc.  

  • Colonial exploitation: For over two centuries, the British occupation and dominance over India de-industrialized the country by destroying its indigenous handicrafts and textile industries. Colonial policies reduced India to the status of a raw-material producer for European enterprises.

  • Climate Change: The majority of India’s impoverished live in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, MP, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Jharkhand, among others. Natural catastrophes such as floods, disasters, earthquakes, and cyclones inflict significant harm to agriculture in these states. Unchecked, climate change will push up to 130 million people into poverty over the next 10 years—unraveling hard-won development gains—and could cause over 200 million people to migrate within their own countries by 2050. 

Poverty alleviation initiatives in India

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) – The Act provides 100 days of assured employment every year to every rural household.

  • National Rural Livelihood Mission: Aajeevika – Self-Help groups are formed at the village level to help the needy.

  • National Urban Livelihood Mission –  focuses on organizing urban poor in Self Help Groups, creating opportunities for skill development leading to market-based employment

  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana – It will focus on fresh entrants to the labor market, especially the labor market and class X and XII dropouts.

  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana –  It aimed at direct benefit transfer of subsidy, pension, insurance, etc., and attained the target of opening 1.5 crore bank accounts. The scheme particularly targets the unbanked poor.

  • According to the United Nations Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2018, 271 million people in India moved out of poverty between 2005-06 and 2015-16.   Over a ten-year period, the country’s poverty rate has virtually halved, falling from 55% to 28%. Still in India, a large portion of the population continues to live below the poverty line. Rapid economic growth and the use of technology for social sector activities have contributed to a major reduction in the country’s severe poverty. Despite fast growth and progress, an unacceptable share of our people remains impoverished on several fronts.  To alleviate poverty in India, a more comprehensive and inclusive strategy is necessary in collaboration of various stakeholders like Non-profits, corporates, and government agencies. 

  • In this context, poverty alleviation is the overarching goal and at the core of Responsenet’s work to support holistic transformational change which brings impactful improvements in people’s lives. Responsenet is a CSR implementation organization working across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards social-economic development in India. We plan, innovate and execute programs that are holistic in nature and cater to the needs of society. Our programs are customized and mapped as per the needs of the targeted geographical location to ensure maximum impact.

  • Our integrated development model for Poverty Alleviation emphasizes the following areas:

  • Livelihood Development for underprivileged youth, men and women.

  • Social Infrastructure Development includes sanitation facilities, safe drinking water units, solar street lights, waste management, and up-gradation of Anganwadi, health centers, and community halls, among others

  • Women empowerment initiatives. 

  • Quality Healthcare & Nutrition for healthy living

  • Quality Education to nurture and empower children for a better future

  • Agriculture Development to enhance efficiency, productivity, and earnings leading to a better standard of living 

  • Food and Nutrition initiatives to provide disadvantaged communities with proper nutrition.

  • We believe in community engagement and participation. We strongly focus on sensitization, awareness, and bringing behavioral changes through needful communications in all our initiatives for development and sustainability.