Causes of Poverty and Antipoverty Measures

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Global Poverty Scenario

To check the global poverty scenario, we must first define what is poverty according to global terms. The World Bank defines poverty as an income of less than $1.9 per day and according to this standard, global poverty has declined from 36% in 1990 to 10% in 2015.

  • Although there is a marked decrease in global poverty, there are regional disparities. Poverty in China and other Southeast Asian countries has declined rapidly due to rapid economic growth and investments in Human Resource Development. China’s poverty came down from 88.3% in 1981 to 14.7% in 2008. This has further reduced to 0.6% in 2019.
  • In other Southeast Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan) there has been a decline from 34% in 2005 to 15.2% in 2014. Also, along with the%age decline, the number of poor declined palpably from 510.4 million in 2005 to 274.5 million in 2013.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, poverty declined from 51% in 2005 to 40.2% in 2018. In Latin America, the ratio of poverty has also declined from 10% in 2005 to 4%in 2018. Poverty has resurfaced in some socialist countries like Russia.

Meanwhile, the sustainable development goals of the UN aim to end all types of poverty by 2030.

Causes of Poverty

There are a few marked reasons for poverty in India. These can be categorized as follows −

  • Low level of economic development during British rule − This is a historical reason for low income in densely populated India. When combined with the growing population, low levels of economic growth in India created many poor individuals. This trend persisted till the 1980s which resulted in fewer job opportunities and low incomes. The failure to the promotion of economic growth and population control increased poverty.
  • Not enough job opportunities − After the independence and the green revolution, some jobs were created but these were not sufficient. Not being able to find regular jobs, people started working irregularly with lower incomes in cities. This caused urban poverty to set in.
  • Income inequalities − Despite many economic policies, India has not been able to tackle the issue of inequality in income. Some policies made by the central governments have not been implemented effectively by the state governments. As a lack of land resources is a major roadblock to economic growth, better implementation was missing which could have eradicated poverty to a large extent.
  • High indebtedness − Indian poor individuals follow many socio-cultural and religious norms for which they have to borrow money. However, since their income is limited, they cannot pay the indebted money back. This creates high indebtedness which is a reason for poverty.

Anti-Poverty Measures

In India, there was little per capita income growth and not much reduction in poverty lasting up to the early eighties. Official poverty estimates were 45% in the early 1950s which remained the same till the early eighties. However, since the eighties, India’s economic growth increased palpably and it was one of the fastest in the world. The growth rate increased from 3.5% a year in the 1970s to about 6% during the 1980s and 1990s.

Looking at India’s growth, it has been observed that there is a strong connection between economic growth and poverty eradication. Economic growth increases opportunities and offers the resources that are needed for human development. It was, however, felt later that the poor may not take direct benefit of the opportunities created by economic growth. Moreover, as growth in the agriculture sector was much below expectations, it had a direct bearing on poverty. This was due to the fact that a large number of rural poor people were dependent on agriculture.

There have been many schemes provided to enhance the betterment of the poor.

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 provides 100 days of wage employment to every household to ensure livelihood security in rural areas.
  • One-third of the jobs are reserved for women. The scheme has provided employment for 220 crore person days of employment to 4.78 crore households. SC, ST, and Women had shares of 23%, 17%, and 53%, respectively. In the scheme, the average wage was increased from Rs 65 in 2006–07 to Rs 132 in 2013–14.
  • Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) is a scheme that was started in 1993 to create self-employment opportunities for educated and unemployed youth in rural areas and small towns that helps in setting up small businesses and industries.
  • Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP) started in 1995 with the aim to create self-employment opportunities in rural areas and small towns. The target for creating 25 lakh new jobs were set for the programme under the Tenth Five Year plan.
  • Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), launched in 1999, aimed at bringing assisted poor families above the poverty line by creating self-help groups with a mix of bank credit and government subsidies.
  • Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yozana (PMGY) provided additional central assistance to states for basic services such as primary health, education, rural drinking water, rural shelter, and rural electrification. It was launched in 2000.

Challenges in Eradicating Poverty

India has been progressing at great speed, but poverty is still a big issue. There are many challenges that lie ahead in eradicating poverty. India will have to make a better infrastructure to deal with poverty. Moreover, the benefits of government schemes must reach the target.

The poor in India get very little exposure to government schemes as they mostly reside in rural areas. The social exclusion of the poor and their inability to break the inequality in the system leads to the failure of the anti-poverty measures taken by the government.

India must also decide what the meaning of poverty is. Usually, the definitions of poverty set the limit of income very low. So, to make the societies well-functioning, just taking steps to eradicate poverty is not enough. However, poverty must be addressed as strongly as possible to contain the overall progress holistically.


Poverty is a big challenge is a curse for people who are affected by it. In India, poverty is one of the major challenges to counter because the country cannot reach its intended economic growth and attain prosperity without considering the effects of poverty. Poverty is also a creator of social evil. It is directly linked with unemployment and when left uncontrolled, it impacts the economy hugely. Therefore, anti-poverty measures and a holistic approach must be taken to contain poverty to get rid of it.


Q1. What is the definition of poverty according to the World Bank?

Ans. According to the World Bank, people who have an income of less than $ 1.9 per day are poor.

Q2. What is the overall trend of poverty in the last few decades globally?

Ans. Global poverty is decreasing over the last few decades. Globalization is considered a major reason for the eradication of poverty.

Q3. When was the Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yoazana (PMRY) launched?

Ans. PMRY was launched in 1993.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47