In India poverty line is measured or calculated considering the following factors required for subsistence:
1. Minimum level of food requirement,
4. Fuel and Light
5. Education and
6. Medical requirement etc.
These physical quantities are multiplied by their prices. The present formula for food requirement is based on the desired calorie requirement. On the basis of these calculations in 1999 - 2000, the poverty line in the rural areas was fixed Rs.328 per capita per month and in urban areas, it was Rs.454. People earning more than this amount were considered above the poverty line and earning less than this amount were considered as living below the poverty line.
The present methodology of poverty estimation does not look appropriate. It only takes one factor in view and that is the economic factor. Moreover it considers about a “minimum” subsistence level of living rather than a “reasonable” level of living.
Poverty has many dimensions. It is no longer confined to economic factors alone. With development, the definitions of what constitutes poverty also changes. Its concept has broadened to human poverty. A few persons may have been able to feed themselves but if they are without education, without shelter, without health-care, without job security, without self-confidence, without social equality, they are considered poor. If poverty is to be removed in real sense and the people are to be brought above the poverty line, not only that we need to increase their income but also, we have to provide the people with education, shelter, health-care, job-security, respect, dignity all.
As per the data, there is a substantial decline in poverty ratio in India from 55 percent in 1973 to 36 percent in 1993. There was further decline from 36 percent in 1993 to 26 percent in 2000. Although the number of poor people remained stable (about 320 million) in the earlier two decades (1973 to 1993), there was significant reduction in the number of the poor to about 260 million till 2000. It may also be noted that poverty ratio always remained higher in rural areas compared to urban areas.If the present trend continues, the people below poverty line may come down to less than 20 percent in the next few years.
The major reasons for poverty in India are:
→ Colonial Rule: India went through a long phase of low economic development under the British colonial administration. The policies of the colonial government ruined traditional handicrafts and discouraged development of industries like textiles.
→ High growth in Population: The rapid growth of population, particularly among the poor, is considered one of the major causes behind Indian poverty. Poor people are illiterate and have traditional outlook. Hence, they are either ignorant of birth control measures or not convinced of the need of birth control. Moreover, they consider male child as an asset, that is, as a source of income and a source of security during old age.
→ Low Rate of Economic Development : The actual rate of growth in India has always been below the required level. It has been around 4 per cent since 1951. This has resulted in less job opportunities. This was accompanied by a high growth rate of population.
→ Unemployment : Another important factor that can be held responsible for the incidence of high poverty in India is the high degree of unemployment and underemployment. The job seekers are increasing at a higher rate than the increase in the employment opportunities.
→ Unequal Distribution: Although national income of India has been increasing since 1951, it was not properly distributed among different sections of the society. A large proportion of increased income has been pocketed by a few rich. They become richer. Consequently, the majority of people have to live below the poverty line.
→ Social Factors : Various social factors, viz., caste system, joint family system, religious faiths, law of inheritance, etc., have blocked the path of economic development.
Identify the social and economic groups which are most vulnerable to poverty in India.
Social Groups Vulnerable to Poverty :
→ Scheduled caste households
→ Scheduled tribe households
Economic Groups Vulnerable to Poverty :
→ Rural agricultural labour households
→ Urban casual labour households