Poverty in Indian Andthe World

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India is defined as an ‘emerging and developing
economy'[1]. For the purpose of this paper I
will be discussing what progress has been
made in reducing poverty in India over the last
two decades. Poverty can be defined by ‘a
condition in which a person or community is
deprived of, or lacks the essentials for a
minimum standard of well-being and life.'[2]
Our understanding can be further developed by
the concept of a poverty-line. This is the
threshold of ‘the money an individual needs to
achieve the minimum level of welfare' and
have an adequate standard of living.[3]
As a summary measure, the updated World
Bank international poverty line of $1.25 a day
in 2005 PPP shows that there has been a
decrease in global poverty numbers. The
revised World Bank statistics estimate that
‘global poverty rates fell from 52% in 1981 to
26% in 2005'[4]. Consequently, statistical
estimates for India also show a decline in
poverty levels; the population percentage living
below $1.25 a day declined from ‘60% in 1981
to 42% in 2005[5]'. We note that 41.01% of
the world's extreme poverty (under $1.00 a
day) is concentrated within India.[6] It is
important to distinguish that ‘India's income
poverty line is the monetary equivalent of a
minimum daily calorie intake - 2400 calories
per person in rural areas and 2100 calories
per person in urban areas.'[7] Therefore,
poverty statistics may vary depending on the
measures used. For the purposes of this paper
UN data and the $1.00 a day poverty line will
be used unless mentioned otherwise.
India's Poverty Gap Ratio gives us a better
understanding (See appendix 1). India's PGR
fell from 13.6% in 1994 to 10.5% in 2005.[8]
Furthermore, the total population below the
poverty line has fallen from 36% in 1994 to
28.6% in 2000.[9] The CIA World Fact-book
puts this figure at 25% in 2007.[10] Whilst the
absolute levels of poverty are decreasing, there
is increasing disparity between urban poverty
and rural poverty. Academics also acknowledge
India ‘has recorded impressive gains in many
areas and significant reductions in the intensity
of poverty, but there is still much ground to
cover in terms of ending human
Finally, there needs to be a clear distinction
made between Poverty Alleviation (PA) and
Human Development (HD). PA can be defined
as ‘any process which seeks to reduce the level
of poverty in a community, or amongst a
group of people or countries.'[12] Greater
clarity can be found if we think in terms of
reducing number of people under the poverty
line. Furthermore, ‘the objective of [human]
development is to create an enabling
environment for people to enjoy long, healthy
and creative lives.'[13] This includes greater
access to knowledge, nutrition and health
services, more secure livelihoods, security
against crime and physical violence. This first
section of this paper aims to explore the
progress made in decreasing rural poverty. The
second section focuses solely on HD factors
which effectively alleviate urban poverty.
The bulk of the rural poor are constructed by
agricultural wage earners, small and marginal
farmers and casual workers engaged in non-
agricultural activities.[14] Furthermore,
statistics show ‘as late as 1993-94, about 70%
of the population was dependent for work on
agriculture in rural areas.'[15] Therefore, the
rural poor are more affected by changes in
food prices and agricultural conditions. In
reference to Millennium Development Goal 1
(MDG1: eradicating poverty and hunger)[16]
there has been much progress made in rural
India. Kumar notes that in times of bad
harvests stronger urban food demand lead to a
flow of food-grains to urban areas which
decreases the availability of food in rural
areas. This tends to push food-grain prices up
in rural areas.[17] As a result there is a double
marginalization problem; poor harvests mean
the rural poor face decreasing employment...
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