Poverty as a Challenge

Introduction One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to eradicate poverty and hunger by 2015. Poverty is a situation where people are unable to get basic amenities of food, clothing and shelter. Typically two cases of poverty are generally observed. In rural areas, poor comprises of landless farmers, casual and unskilled workers who are illiterate, have poor health/malnutrition, etc. In urban areas, poor comprises of rickshaw pullers, street cobblers, rag pickers, beggars etc who have migrated to urban areas in search of job opportunities.

Social scientists view poverty as multidimensional problem which include illiteracy, lack of general resistance due to malnutrition, lack of access to healthcare, social exclusion, vulnerability. A poor person is usually barred from enjoying certain basic pleasures of life which the people in the mainstream society are able to enjoy. To measure the poverty we use poverty line which is the threshold limit based on income or consumption level. In India, this threshold limit is 2400 calories per person in rural areas and 2100 calories per person in urban areas.

Based on this threshold limit we find that poverty estimates is not same for all social groups and economic categories in India. Certain communities are more vulnerable to poverty than others. Data suggests that there is a larger percentage of poor among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The data also reveals that there is inter-state disparities as Bihar, Orissa are amongst the poor states.

Global poverty Scenario shows that there has been a substantial decline in global poverty but this decline is more inclined towards percentage and not towards the number of poor and again it is marked with great regional differences.

The low level of economic development under colonial rule, poor implementation of policies, unequal distribution of land, etc. are the leading causes of poverty in India. Although Government has initiated several anti-poverty measures like MNREGA, Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yozana, Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yozana, etc. but on critically analyzing the situation we find that poverty reduction remains India’s most compelling challenge.

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