Report Stresses Need to Identify the ’Poor’ in India

Monday, September 12, 2011

In India the poor are visible everywhere in villages, hamlets, in forestland or degraded lands, along coastal regions, in the mountains, in urban centres and in industrial areas. For all the visible signs of poverty, there is a huge chunk of these which are invisible.
It comes back to the question of what makes the poor, poor. This is the question that should plague those who are at the forefront of policy and its implementation of poverty alleviation programmes in the country.

To reduce poverty you need to first identify who is poor. You need a set of parameters that would clearly show up who is resourceless, who is pushed to the edge of survival, who needs benefits of development to reach them on a priority basis.

There are a number of agencies and bodies that have attempted to define poverty. According to the NC Saxena Committee, under Rural Development Ministry, half of India’s population is poor. The guidelines by the noted economist, Arjun Sengupta pegs poverty figures at 77 percent, while National Development Council’s Suresh Tendulkar Committee holds that India has only 37.2 percent poor.

All this is very well but why is poverty not reducing? What are the obstacles? Growth is evident in the economy, across several sectors. In terms of development, there are a number of schemes for tackling poverty, yet the rate of poverty is increasing. According to some sources, the number of people who go to bed hungry everyday in India is equal to around the population of a dozen countries in the world. The condition of those at the bottom end of the ladder is precarious.

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