Is India still under poverty?


The title of the third largest economy in the world will befall upon India soon, with towering buildings in her largest cities, mega-corporations employing tens of thousands, infrastructural developments, widening national highways, ever increasing consumer spending power, and the fastest missiles in the world. While the political clowns jumping in and around Tihar eagerly proclaim, “Shining, shining, India is shining”, do we citizens ‘above’ the poverty line, realize that much remains to be questioned of the pathetic state the rest of the country is in?

We are a country with more poverty than any other nation that is comparable to us in terms of size and population. Forty one per cent of the country has less than a daily income of Rs. 60 to survive on; of which 25% thrive on not more than Rs. 30 a day. Two hundred and seventy five million people are malnourished, without medicine, without access to water and sanitation, and are ill-treated and abused in households and work places across the country.

A recent visit with CRY to the Kolar District had confirmed my fears to be true. “You don’t have to go to Somalia to see the malnourished, you can find it here in Kolar,” exclaimed Naranya Swami, Director of the NGO, TREES. He argued that the food subsidies provided by the government is a mere 38 paise allocation per child even though it is supposed to be Rs. 5. “The government claims to have all under control, but the funds and support have rarely trickled down. There is not enough that is done for them. It’s as though no one wants them to come out of poverty,” he added.

It is not that the shoddy state of affairs has been hidden from the public; rather, it is the numbness of the urban masses to the predicament of those in suffering. There are few who are content to say, ‘It is not my responsibility, it is the government’s job’, but if there is no one to keep the government in check, there would be no action at all. It is time for us Indians to address this inequality. One just has to look around to find the means to combat poverty. One can volunteer with organizations who help the poor, judiciously fund the right organizations, find out how much of what you invest reaches the poor, empower organizations that educate the poor, spread the awareness, write articles, talk to your friends, question the government, question their motives, and support NGO’s, amongst others.

We will never be able to eradicate poverty by simply changing the definition of how the government defines the poverty line. Regardless of large or small scale efforts, only through collective action can we the Indian citizens’ nurture and spread the commitment to tackle poverty and work towards the prosperity of our nation.

Authors: Tej Prakash, Samuel John and Alex Jacob
Editors: Ayushman JamwalAnkita Mishra and Ram Kumar Ramaswamy
Illustration By: Sanjukumar P. S.

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9 thoughts on “Is India still under poverty?

  1. India is going to be third largest economy surpassing Japan in next 3-5 years.Its GDP growth was fantastically hitting around 9 until recently. GDP stats show it an “all is well” country. But just see where have we grown in the last two decades. Its majorly manufacturing and services sector(employing 30% in total) where things look good whereas agriculture( supporting and employing 60% country’s population) is declined steadily over the years. Actually, we are celebrating a superficial victory. Rich are getting richer and Poor staying poor.And the mother of all problems is that all of them are inter-linked and form a viscous cycle. You try to throw one of them out, others will pull them in.We should try to solve the problem not its symptom.An effort which is more centered towards the root cause is needed.There is no one night solution and we all know that.
    There is one more aspect that needs to be pointed out. India currently has youth constituting 30% of its population. That has been one of the strongest reasons in India’s growth in last decade.In next 20 years, its youth population will increase by 250 millions approximately.This statistics is certainly a blessing for the Indian democracy.If we teach one child today,make him a responsible citizen tomorrow,or at least, make him able enough to sustain his life along with his/her family.In the next few years ,we need to focus more on improving the primary education system.Increase the portion of funds for primary education.Reach out to each and every village. Some people might say that there is already enough corruption in that system that any effort wont trickle down to the lowest level. But I do not think that there is enough option left.People can keep an eye on the flow of funds.But you cant expect the system to be 100% efficient every time.

  2. What is most disturbing is our numbness to the entire issue. We will have to understand that the nation is made up of us, its citizens and it is our responsibility to take initiative in that direction rather than closing our eyes and blaming govt for everything.

  3. Interesting post. I am wondering about our approach toward it. We are trying to quantify a subjective experience, and failing at fixing matters for decades now. Is it time to look at it in a more psychological approach?

    Just thinking that a poor farmer may still have rations at home from his fields if he owns any. His work may not involve other expenses. On the other hand, another poor person may need far more money for survival even though he may earn more. A nomad can virtually survive on barter alone except for very few essentials.

    These factors are difficult to generalize, and they are the real poverty.

    Is it time we looked to create opportunities for people to fix their own problems rather than quantifying according to some imposed standard, or addressing solutions to these imposed numbers rather than people’s immediate necessities. An example that comes to mind would be forming some system for urban entities like business organizations, educational institutions or individual philanthropists to adopt or sponsor rural entities – villages, individuals, specific activities… and help them achieve a more satisfying existence. In whatever way seems necessary and within the capacity of the assisting entity. Whether it is sponsoring computers for local school, or devising ways to promote agricultural experiences as educational tourism.

    Social research would be needed to device effective solutions. But I think we are getting too stuck with numbers and too blind to individuals and their needs.

    • Brilliant, Vidyut, I must say you have opened my eyes to what the possibilities are with the radical line of thought. Your response is exactly the kind we were hoping for when we started this forum. Give a man a fish vs teaching him to fish vs empowering him to teach others to fish. Social research needs to be done.

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