Environmental Indicators for Measuring Poverty in India

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Poverty has been a serious and long-lasting issue in India. Instead of focusing on the government structure, policy making or economic growth, environmental factors such as natural resources, should also be the used to measure poverty in India. While some scholars argue that environmental quality is not necessary for setting the poverty line, others determine natural resource degradation is crucial for indicating poverty. In order to reduce poverty, it is very critical for policy makers to understand how environmental factors affect the well-being of the poor. This research module will provide arguments and instances to support the use of environmental factors as indicators for measuring poverty in India.

Regarding the poverty issue on income and food security in India, factors like environmental degradation should play a key role. According to Agricultural Census in 1990-91, seventy-percent of people in India depend on agriculture directly or indirectly. Natural resource degradation can affect the availability of inputs which the poor use to grow food, and thus reduce their income and job opportunities. Residents in the western Orissa state of India claim that “over-dependence on forest is an indicator of poverty” since deforestation can diminish food stability and availability of the poor by “directly reducing the forest and aquatic products they consume” (Environment and Poverty). In this case, poverty-environment indicator such as “quantity of annual household consumption that is derived from forest products” would be more appropriate to measure income poverty in India than the economic indicators of the nation (Environment and Poverty).

Besides, other natural resource problems, such as water scarcity and natural disaster, should also be taken into account when measuring poverty in India. Water scarcity can worsen the living of the poor by compelling them to expend more effort on obtaining livelihood and income. In general, poverty-environment...
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