India has been characterized by poverty and malnutrition. The question arises, “How to end Poverty in India?”
What is Poverty?
Poverty refers to the poor state of being when people are deprived from sufficient food, shelter and other basic necessities of life.
India’s current population is around over 1.25 billion. Of the total population, approximately 70 per cent live in rural India. There has been some debate on the precise dimensions of poverty in India. It has been estimated that around 21 percent of the total population of India live below the poverty line.
Poverty Line is defined in term of a nutritionally adequate diet or a minimum desirable level of income.
Rural Poverty: In rural India, a large chunk of people live in deep poverty and most of them are victims of inadequate nutrition. The rural poor devote, on average, something like 80 per cent of their expenditure on food items. The absolute magnitude of the poor has been increasing by substantial amounts and will continue to increase in both rural and urban Indian.
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Urban Poverty: In urban areas, while the very poor show a percentage going to food almost identical to that of their rural counterparts, the overall average is less at about 75 per cent, partly because as one moves away from the very poor in the urban situation, the claim of rent upon resources is relatively high. The most striking aspect of the consumption patterns of the poor both rural and urban is for present purposes the extremely high proportion of their expenditure given to food.
How to Stop Poverty in India?
Several measures can be undertaken to stop or eradicate poverty in India. Some of them are discussed below:
Increase in per capita food production: The rate of growth of production of food grains as a whole has barely kept ahead of population growth. An increase in per capita food production would ensure steady supply and stable price. An examination of the different components of food grain output is very revealing. Superior food grains, i.e., wheat and rice have done perceptibly better than the coarse grains, and wheat has done very significantly better. It is true that the Green Revolution strategy, particularly in relation to wheat has been very successful. However, there is much that need to be done.
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Agricultural and land reforms: In Indian conditions, radical socio-economic changes are required to ensure the self-reliant, long-term growth of the economy. These changes should ensure reforms of the land tenure system helpful to the poor and middle peasants, liberate them from the hard grip of the moneylenders, ensure supply of agricultural inputs to working farmers, widen irrigation facilities and help a quicker advance of agro-industries.
Increase in production of essential items: In the industrial sphere, units manufacturing luxury consumer items must be made to refashion their patterns of production in terms of export potential and the limited range of internal consumption potentialities, and use the rest of the productive capacity towards producing low-cost essential commodities like inexpensive textiles, bulbs, tube lights, transistors, shoes, cycles, etc.
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Tackle the problem of income disparity: To bring about this change in our private sector production mix, however, exhortations will be self-defeating, since production thus conceived, is much less profitable per individual commodity produced. Apart from considerations of social justice, even purely in terms of economic development, glaring income disparities have to be quickly tackled.
Ceiling on maximum income: A ceiling on maximum individual incomes has to be defined and strictly enforced, whether an individual is in a job, profession or business. Individual incomes above the ceiling should be impounded for the building up of a national development fund by the Government. This would ensure, firstly, substantial financial resources for the Government to make planned investments and secondly, drastically reduce internal demand leaving them largely for export.
Tackle the problem of black money: The black money menace, of course, has to be frontally attacked at all levels along with these measures. This is urgent to bring about a balance between the available goods and services and money in circulation in short to fight the inflationary pressures on the economy; to mobilize maximum public finance for developmental activities and to eradicate the chances of corruption, market manipulation and conspicuous consumption.
Massive investment in public sector: A massive investment and expansion programme in the public sector is required. This expansion has to embrace not only infrastructural areas like power, energy and so on but also the key and consumer sectors of the industry along with the commercial and distributive agencies. This expansion has become urgent to safeguard the working people from the vagaries of hoarding and price manipulation of the traders.
Education: Illiteracy is a major national problem and a major cause for poverty. Illiterate people living in villages and small towns find it hard to get employment. Around 51 percent of rural families are engaged in casual labour jobs, while another 30 percent is engaged in agriculture. Education will empower them to engage in better jobs, which in turn would help them come above the poverty line. In this regard, women education is also considered very important. Educated women can make better earnings and support the family. Educated mothers have great influence in the academic progress of the child. It is rightly said that, “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Rules the World”. Hence, educated mothers can monitor the academic performance of their children and help the country to eradicate illiteracy and poverty.
Skill development: Most industries engage skilled labours. There is a decline in demand for un-skilled labours in most factories and mills. In such a situation, there is a need to stress on development of skills for specific trade, so that these modern industries can get technically skilled labours. Establishment of Vocational Education and Training (VET) institutes is a big step towards the eradication of poverty from our country.
Also read: Vocational Education and Training (VET) in India
Check on population growth: Due to massive increase in population, the demand for basic necessities such as housing, food and shelter is at its peak. The resources are limited. The growth in demand for essential commodities far exceeds the supply of these commodities leading to a situation of prise-rise (inflation). Awareness campaigns explaining the benefits of controlling the population growth should be widely circulated.
Women empowerment: Women (and girls) forms around 50 percent of the world population. Since ages, they have been treated as a burden to the society. They were deprived of equal opportunity for education, food, nutrition, and economic participation leading to the situation of ‘Feminization of poor’. Women empowerment and education would strengthen them to bring economic benefits both at individual and national level. The government and social organisations are taking significant steps towards creating awareness regarding the importance of education of girl-child.
Conclusion: The above steps would be helpful to stop poverty in India. Poverty is a menace and need to be checked. Sections of big business connected with the commercial capital and black money would be seriously upset, but none of them have mass base nor do they play an essential economic function. All they do is to create confusion by their cry of economic crisis.