India may have reduced extreme poverty far more effectively than most of us are aware of. The last official data is eight years old. In 2011, 268 million people were surviving on less than $1.90 a day, the World Bank measure for extreme poverty. The next round of data on household consumption is likely to come out in June, and it may well show a drastic drop in the number of poor. According to the World Data Lab — which monitors global poverty using advanced statistical models — less than 50 million Indians may be living on less than $1.90 a day now. Economists said rapid economic growth and the use of technology for social sector programs have helped make a significant dent in extreme poverty in the country. The ruling political party on Monday cited global think tank reports to say that India is moving fast towards a poverty-free situation and gave credit to policies of the Govt of the day for it. On this edition of the big picture we analyse what more needs to be done to eradicate poverty
How far have we come in our fight against poverty?
We have done well. But the number mentioned above is closer to 150 or 200 million and not less than that. Each govt after 1991 has seen the number of people in absolute poverty coming down.
The incident of absolute poverty continues to be high in rural areas. Further the problem is compounded in rural areas where it lacks irrigation benefits.
What have been the measures introduced by successive governments to reduce poverty?
- We see the fall in poverty after introduction of 1991 reforms
- Without high economic growth, we can’t reduce the poverty
- Various programmes like employment guarantee, employment generations, subsidies help in reducing poverty
- PMAY (awas yojna) is one another program
- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan aims to reduce the out of pocket health expenditure of poor families
- Ayushman Bharat will go long way in reducing poverty
- Promotion of SHG, MSMEs, and ensuring skilling of the population are some measures which will bring prosperity and reduce poverty
What has really worked in our fight against poverty?
Different governments have experimented ways to reduce poverty. The previous govt was keen on developing a welfare state which highlights state’s social responsibility for its citizens. The present govt is more inclined towards improving the potential and facilitating growth rather than creating a dependency culture.
- Not enough productivity coming out of land
- Agriculture is still the dominant form of occupation in rural areas
- 2/3rd of the agricultural land is still rain-fed
- India has struggled to convert high rates of economic growth into good jobs
- Greater investment in agriculture rather than subsidies to increase productivity
- Create infrastructure in rural areas to prevent migration
- Cross subsidization to tackle wealth inequality
- We should start providing income support to all farmers
- We need to invest in public infrastructure so that cost of living goes down
- Empowerment is a better strategy than going for entitlement
- Link untouched areas to the market