Here we have provided an elaborative essay on poverty in India. Despite being the world’s fastest-growing economy, India is still fighting hard to eliminate poverty from its soil. In this essay on poverty in India, we will go in detail through the general definition of poverty, the status of poverty in India, poverty estimates in India, poverty threshold in India, causes of poverty in India and anti-poverty measures taken by the government of India. This essay on poverty in India is useful for students and children of standard 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and above. Read on for essay on poverty in India.

What is Poverty?

Poverty is a disability to acquire basic needs, such as food, education, health, etc primarily due to lack of money and resources. It is directly related to the low income that is insufficient to acquire basic amenities and needs. Continue reading the essay on poverty in India.

Status of Poverty in India

India is one of the fastest-growing economies of the world and poverty in India is on the decline. According to a report published by the World Bank, India has halved its poverty rate since the 1990s.

In 2017, the then Finance Minister of India, Mr. Arun Jaitley had stated that India will become the third-largest economy of the world surpassing China and the United States. While addressing a group of college students in Delhi, the minister further added that he is hopeful of poverty in India falling below 10% by 2025.

The words of the minister were not completely out of place, as the poverty in India has witnessed a persistent decline since the early 2000s. In 2004-2005 the percentage of poor in India was 37%, which came down to 22% and 17% in 2011 and 2019 respectively. Going by these figures it is clear that around 232.8 million people among its strength of 1369.5 million are poor.

The latest statistics as of October 2019 also reveal that poverty is more prevalent in the rural population of India, as compared to the urban. Around 25.7% of the total rural population in India lives under the poverty line, while in urban areas it is lowered to 13.7%.

Poverty Estimation in India

The Niti Ayog of India, a policy think tank for the Government of India has been conferred to decide the poverty line estimation. This was formerly done by the Planning Commission of India till it was dissolved in 2014. Niti Ayog does the calculations for the poverty line on the basis of data provided by the National Sample Survey Office, which functions under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI).

The poverty line calculation in India is carried out based on the consumption expenditure but not on the income level, due to the following reasons-

  • The income of many unorganized sectors like daily wage, laborers, and small farmers, is highly variable while the patterns of consumption are much stable.
  • While considering income, the side income, whatsoever, couldn’t be considered, making the income data less reliable.
  • Keeping track of the income of unorganized sectors isn’t possible. A family may not show income in a particular month but may generate enough in the next to feed itself. Such discrepancies are addressed while considering consumption criterion.

Poverty Threshold of India

The poverty threshold of India is below Rs 47 per day in cities and Rs 32 per day in villages. That is a person spending less than Rs 47 in the city and Rs 32 in the village are considered as poor.   

This threshold was provided in the report submitted by the Rangarajan Committee on 30th June 2014. The committee was constituted by the Planning Commission under the Chairmanship of Dr. C. Rangarajan.

Causes of Poverty in India

There are many factors that could be associated with the poverty prevalence in India. Some of the most significant of them are explained below-

1) Rapid Population Growth

The population of India has shot up to 1, 341 million people in March 2020 from 359 million people in March 1951. That is an average rise of 13.5 million annually. Such rapid growth in the population puts a strain on the natural resources and also generates unemployment. Providing any kind of assistance to the poor becomes difficult as the consistent population growth add to their numbers.

2) Unstable Agriculture Sector

India is primarily an agriculture based economy. Agriculture is the largest employer that employs nearly 50% of India’s total workforce. Sadly, the India agriculture sector is highly unstable and depends largely on climatic conditions. The ups and downs in the industry are unpredictable. A farmer may generate decent income in a given year through crop production, while the next year he may go totally bankrupt. Cases like these also keep on fluctuating the poor population of India.

3) Ineffective Land Reforms

Land reforms were introduced to ensure equal distribution of land among the poor and the farmers. The idea was to give every poverty ridden person, decent piece of land which he could cultivate for livelihood. Land reforms have been the most revolutionary steps of India’s land policy since independence; though, somewhere down the line their implementation got compromised by poor political will and slacky administration. 

4) Unemployment and Underemployment

Unemployment is another factor that is responsible for the existence of poor population in India. The jobs generated are not on equal terms with the population, forcing many to work on extremely lower wages. Daily wage labourers in several parts of India are not paid accordingly to the work. Also, this sector is highly unstable and fails to provide regular employment.

Anti-Poverty Measures by the Government

Removing poverty in a 130 billion strong country is a challenge to hold. The government is using a two way tactics to deal with it – firstly, by promoting economic growth and secondly, by inducing anti-poverty programs. Following are some of the major anti-poverty programs introduced by the government of India.

1) Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana (JGSY)

The main objectives under the JGSY Yojna are listed below-

  • Came into effect from 1st April 1999.
  • Development of rural infrastructure likes, roads, schools, hospitals, etc.
  • To give sustained wage employment to the villagers listed Below Poverty Line (BPL).
  • Village Panchayat acted as the main governing body of the Rs 1, 848.8 crore project.

2) National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS)

The main objectives under the NOAPS Scheme are listed below-

  • Came into effect from 15th August 1995.
  • Providing a pension of Rs 2000 p.m. to the poor above 65 years of age, who could not fend for themselves.
  • The amount may vary according to the state’s contribution.

3) National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)

The main objectives under the NFBS Scheme are listed below-

  • This scheme was started in August 1995.
  • Scheme comes under the State Government’s community and rural department.
  • On the occasion of the death of a primary bread winner of a family, the immediate next in kin is awarded a sum of Rs 20, 000.

4) Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP)

The main objectives under the IRDP Program are listed below-

  • Initially introduced in selected areas in 1978-79 and later covered all areas by the end of 1980.
  • Providing income generated assets to the poorest of the poor.
  • Creating opportunities of sustainable development for rural families living below poverty line.

5) Annapurna

The main objectives under the Annapurna scheme are listed below-

  • Started in 1999-2000 this scheme provides food senior citizens not listed under NOAPS and who have no one to take care of.
  • Eligible senior citizens are provided 10 kg of free food grain every month.
  • Mainly targets poorest of the poor.

6) National Maternity Benefits Scheme (NMBS)

The main objectives under NMBS scheme are listed below-

  • To provide a sum of Rs 6000 in three installments to all the mothers older than 19 years.
  • The monetary benefits can also be availed in case the child dies.
  • First installment of Rs 3000 in first trimester.
  • Second installment of Rs 1500 at the time of delivery.
  • Third installment of Rs 1500 at the time of birth registration.


Poverty is a major hindrance to India’s economic and social growth. It is directly related to state of health, education and other essential services. Necessary poverty eradication measures with solid resolve must be implemented by the government if India has ever to transit from developing to developed nation’s league.

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By Abha

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