Poverty in India

Poverty in India

by Amit Prabhu | Updated on 01 September 2023

by Amit Prabhu | Updated on 01 September 2023

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What is poverty?

Food, water and shelter have been defined as the basic needs of man. The modern list adds health, education and sanitation to the 3 stated earlier. The inability to fulfil these basic requirements is termed as poverty. The Union Cabinet now defines a household to be below poverty line (BPL) if the annual income of the household is less than 27,000.


After gaining independence in the year 1947, instead of eradicating the poverty, India has seen a rapid increase in the rate of poverty across the country. The fact that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer is alarming.

Decreasing rate

Since 2001 and over the last decade, although poverty levels have declined from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 29.8% in 2009-10, a whopping number of 250 million poor people is estimated to be living in India.

Efforts taken by the govt

The poverty minimization programs by various governments in the past and now the  policies of Modi Government are well intended, yet the impact is not so much visible on poverty eradication and the people living below the poverty line are still in large number.


According to a survey conducted by the World bank, every 1 in 5 Indians is poor. 80% of these poor people belong to the rural areas and villages of the country. 60% of the poor still reside in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The reason for these states to be in the category of the poorest state is because 85% of tribal people live there. Also, most of these regions are either flood-prone or suffer from calamities. These conditions hamper agriculture to a great extent, on which the household income of these groups depends.



The exponential growth in the population is one of the major reasons for the poverty to be ever increasing in our nation. This increase in population leads to unemployment and further brings the household below poverty line.


Illiteracy across the nation makes the people take up jobs as laborers based on a payment of daily wages. Unskilled workers get paid very less as compared to the amount of physical work done every day. The problem lies with the unorganized sector as owners do not bother the way their workers live and the amount they earn. Their area of concern is just cost-cutting and more profit.


The ever-increasing price of the basic commodities also contributes to the major causes of finding a large population of the country below poverty line.

Gender discrimination

India is a country where till today there is discrimination on the basis of gender. The weak status attached with women is hugely responsible for the poor condition of women.

Social factors

The growth of economy is also hampered by the social factors. Caste system and unequal distribution of income and resources is another reason of poverty in India. In a research, it has also been observed that the poverty is highest among the Scheduled Tribes followed by the Schedule Castes.

Poverty in cities

Earlier, poverty was thought of as a rural phenomenon, but with urbanization pouring in rapidly, poverty in urban areas was realized. While rural poverty might comprise people not getting 2 square meals a day, urban poverty is different and might involve living in unsafe and unhygienic housing and deteriorated standards of living which is very much present in India. The slums in urban areas of India reflect the urban poverty condition.



Lack of financial stability amongst the households leads to improper health care and hygiene. This leads to the spread of many diseases and such individuals and their families suffer from malnutrition. Further, when these people get ill, they do not have enough money to visit a doctor and buy medicines. Many such poor people die on a daily basis due to prolonged illness etc.

Child labor

Due to poverty, poor people to send their children to work instead of sending them to schools. This is because the families fail to bear the burden of their child/ children. Among the poor families, children start earning at an average age of 5 years only.


The increasing rate of poverty in the country also leads to the rise of terrorist activities. Youngsters from poor families are usually targeted and involved in terrorist activities. These people are offered huge amount of money in exchange of which they are assigned with a destructive task of terrorism.


India has taken up various schemes and programs to provide employment to the poor so they can earn a daily wage since 1980s. Some of the successful aids are mentioned below-

National Rural Livelihood Mission: Ajeevika (2011)

This scheme was launched in 2011 by the Ministry of Rural Development. It aims at providing employment to the poor so that they have a regular income on a monthly basis.

The Fight Hunger First Initiative (FHFI) Program (2011)

It is often seen that though numerous programs and schemes are started to help those in need, the assets do not reach the people who are in most need of them, be it due to lack of awareness, exploitation or other reasons. The Fight Hunger First initiative was taken up by the government in 2011 to improve access of communities to the rights and entitlements accrued to them by the government schemes.

Food Security Bill (2013)

The Food Security Bill was tabled in the Parliament in 2011 and became an act on 12 September 2013 making it one of the largest food security schemes across the world. Under the provisions of this law, beneficiaries would get five kg of grains per person per month, including rice at Rs. 3 per kg, wheat at Rs. 2 per kg and coarse grains at Re 1 per kg. The roll out entails covering 75% of the rural population, since they happen to be the most deprived section in the society, and up to 50% of the urban population.

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (2015)

This scheme was launched by the Cabinet in March 2015 to provide skill training to 1.4 million youth with an overlay of Rs 1120 crore.

Farm Loan Waiver (2016-2018)

Just before the State elections 2018 in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the government waived farmers’ loans thus freeing them of the debt they were facing.


Focusing on the agricultural sector

India is an agricultural country. The roots of our nations are buried deep down the soils in the farms. There is a lot of unemployment and a lack of stability in the agricultural sector. If strengthened, this sector can help us reduce poverty to a greater extent.

Affordable commodities

Bringing in stability in the pricing of the essential commodities will also help, making them affordable to everyone.


Drinking water and sanitation should be made available to all. A country can grow if and only if it is physically healthy. So, the first major area to focus up on is the hygiene in the villages and the rural areas.

Family planning

The ever-increasing population in the country has been not just a root cause of the poverty, but also many other serious issues. Thus, there is a need to impose proper laws with regard to the family planning. We can also start working on this by conducting family planning workshops in the rural areas.


Education is a remedy to all. Once you get educated, you can find some or the other way to earn a living. Thus, by providing affordable education to children, we can eradicate poverty from the country at a great pace.

Minimum wage standards

The government should really find a way to impose minimum wage standards for these workers. At the same time, the government should ensure that this is implemented well.

Agenda 2030

The UN has taken up goals for sustainable development and eradication of poverty and hunger. This shows that the need of the hour is focusing on the poverty and its most drastic side effect of hunger.

Thus, by working together, we can eradicate the poverty from India as every person has the right to live a healthy and a prosperous life!

If you want to have a brief idea about how to present these points in front of a group, do watch the video-


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