Some of the most challenging issues facing India today are poverty, development of rural India and building infrastructure. We are a billion-strong country today and our human capital is the biggest asset.

In the last six decades, India has taken a number of economic policies. Providing minimum basic needs to the people and reduction of poverty have been the major aims of the economic policies in independent India. The pattern of development that the successive five-year plans envisaged laid emphasis on uplifting the poorest of the poor (Antyodaya), integrating the poor into the mainstream and achieving a minimum standard of living for all.

While addressing the Constituent Assembly in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru had said, “This achievement (Independence) is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the great triumphs and achievements that await us… the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.”

However we need to know where we stand today. Poverty is not only a challenge for India, as more than one-fifth of the world’s poor live in India alone; but also for the world, where more than 260 million people are not able to meet their basic needs.

Poverty has many faces, which have been changing from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways. Most often, poverty is a situation that people want to escape. So poverty is a call to action — for the poor and the wealthy alike — a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities.

To know what helps to reduce poverty, what works and what does not, what changes over time, poverty has to be defined, measured and studied — and even experienced. As poverty has many dimensions, it has to be looked at through a variety of indicators — levels of income and consumption, social indicators, and indicators of vulnerability to risks and of social/political access.

What is Poverty?

Two scholars, Shaheen Rafi Khan and Damian Killen, put the conditions of the poor in a nutshell –

  • Poverty is hunger.
  • Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor.
  • Poverty is not being able to go to school and not knowing how to read.
  • Poverty is not having a job.
  • Poverty is fear for the future, having food once in a day.
  • Poverty is losing a child to illness, brought about by unclear water.
  • Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.

What do you think?


Who Are The Poor?
How Are Poor People Identified?
The Number Of Poor In India
What Causes Poverty?


Bibliography : NCERT – Indian Economic Development



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