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Poverty alleviation programs Plans to reduce poverty levels and bridge the gaps in distribution of wealth have been a part of the Government’s policy since India got its independence. Some of the initial programs concentrated on making the poor self sufficient with respect to basic necessities like food. Immediately after independence, making food grains available to all residents at controlled prices was an important part of poverty reduction programs. Employment opportunities, agricultural development, primary education and good infrastructure are some of the objectives of programs designed by the Government. National Rural Employment Programs, Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Program, and Jawahar Rojgar Yojna are some of the programs introduced by the Indian Government. Poverty alleviation programs address the root cause for poverty like illiteracy, high population growth rate, high dependence of farmers on monsoons and outdated techniques to cultivate their lands. Poverty reduction has also been an important part of India’s five-year plans. The current plan aims at reducing the headcount ratio of consumption poverty by 10 percentage points. It is also expected to reduce educated unemployment, increase work opportunities and increase the real wages for unskilled workers – thus reducing poverty amongst labor classes. Effectiveness of the programs According to a study, the percentage of India’s population living below the poverty line in 2004-05 was estimated at 27.8 percent. The Government has been able to reduce this rate by only an average of 0.74 percent since 1993. Statistics clearly indicate that the poverty alleviation programs have had a minimal effect on poverty levels in India. The plans look effective on paper but their implementation in reality has been a major setback. The actual funds that reach the beneficiaries are very little compared to the funds allocated for welfare schemes. Former Prime Minister, Rajeev Gandhi had once

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