Poverty in India is a major economic hurdle in the country’s progress. India is estimated to have a third of the world’s poor. An alarming 42% of the Indians are said to be living below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. India is said to have the largest number of poor as a single country.
The chief causes for this poverty in India are ascribed to the factors of exploitation under British rule, massive population exploitation and hence population burden, unequal distribution of income, casteism, and low literacy rate. The rural population of India mainly suffers from malnutrition, illiteracy, diseases and long-term health problems apart from unhygienic living conditions, lack of proper housing and sanitation facilities, high infant mortality rates, discrimination towards women, exploitation of children, child labor, low wages, and social ill-treatment of the lower sections of society.
Post- independence, the Indian government and non-governmental organizations have taken up several initiatives to alleviate poverty in India. These measures include subsidizing food and other necessities, increased access to loans, improving agricultural techniques and price supports, drought area and small farmer development programs, national rural employment programs, Rozgar Yognas, and promoting education and family planning. These steps have helped in eliminating famines, reducing absolute poverty levels by more than half, reducing the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots and also in dealing with the social evils of illiteracy and malnutrition. Initiatives have been taken for generating employment in all fields such as agriculture, industry, services, and business activities.
The persistent poverty of India can be attributed to a major system failure and leakages in the system. It clearly shows that the general economic development of India has been severely lopsided since independence. Increased public-private partnership along with committed and efficient bureaucratic machinery is the need of the hour to tackle the spreading evils of poverty in India.