Gandhi Ji once said that “poverty is the worst form of violence”
Poverty can be defined as the condition in which a person or a community lacks of basic amenities like health, education, sanitation, etc. The government of India has formulated many programmes or schemes for the alleviation of poverty from India. However, before understanding about the various poverty alleviation programmes in India, Let us understand the concept of poverty.
World Bank defines poverty as “if any person’s income is less than $1.9 per day, the person is living in poverty”. It can be concluded that if a person is unable to acquire the basic goods and services, necessary for survival with dignity, is living in poverty.
According to census 2011, In India, 21.5% of people are living in poverty which is approximately 33 crore individuals.
Earlier poverty estimation was carried out by the planning commission but now it is estimated by the NITI Aayog task force by using the data of NSSO which comes under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
The estimation of the poverty line was used to be carried out based on the consumption level (calorie level) but the trend has changed and now it is being estimated based on the income level.
Various committees established from time to time to estimate the poverty line like:
1. Alagh Committee 1979: which determines the poverty line based on a daily requirement of 2400 and 2100 calories for Rural and Urban people respectively.
2. Lakdawala Committee 1993
3. Tendulkar Committee 2009: This Committee calculated poverty levels for the base year 2004- 05 and recommended four major changes;
1. Shift away from calorie consumption-based poverty estimation to income level-based poverty estimation.
2. Uniform poverty line basket across rural and urban India.
3. Change in the price adjustment procedure to correct spatial and temporal issues with price adjustment.
4. Incorporation of private expenditure on health and education.
The Tendulkar committee advised the government to fix the poverty line to Rs 446.68 per capita per month in rural areas and Rs 578.80 per capita per month in urban areas in 2004-05.
4. Rangarajan committee 2012: After the Tendulkar committee, the Rangarajan committee 2012 estimated the poverty line.
This committee published it’s report in 2014 and estimated the Monthly Per Capita Expenditure as Rs. 1407 in urban areas and Rs. 972 in rural areas.
Schemes or programmes for Poverty alleviation in India:
1. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA): It aims to improve the livelihood of poor people by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed right base and demand-based wage employment in a financial year to every household members who want to work unskilled manual work.
Beneficiaries need to be rural ones as well as unskilled manual labourers, Even seasonally unemployed labours can also work. The wage and the material ratio have to be maintained at 60:40.
No contractors and machinery are allowed, as it provides manual work.
The central government provides the 100% wage cost of unskilled manual labour and 75% of the material cost including the wages of skilled and semi-skilled workers.
Good thing is that if work is not provided within 15 days of applying, the applicants are entitled to an unemployment allowance.
This scheme is implemented by the gram panchayats.
Also, at least one-third of the beneficiaries shall be women, it empowers women financially. Social audits have to be done by the gram sabha at least once in every 6 months.
This scheme focuses to create durable assets as per the local needs.
2. National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013: It aims to provide subsidized food to approximately 66% of India’s population. A combination of 75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas will be covered under this act.
It converges the various existing food security schemes into legal entitlements through this act.
This act is a kind of change of government policy from a welfare-based approach to a rights-based approach.
This scheme is an inclusion of the midday meal scheme, ICDS scheme, and PDS scheme. It also recognizes maternity entitlements.
Under this scheme, each beneficiary is entitled to 5 kilograms of food grains per month at Rs. 3, Rs. 2, and Rs. 1 per kg for rice, wheat, and coarse grains respectively.
The beneficiaries under Antyodaya Anna Yojana will keep receiving the Rs. 35 kg/household/month at the same rates which means that this scheme is not covered under the NFSA.
NFSA also guarantees age-appropriate meals, free of charge through local Anganwadi for children up to 6 months, and one free meal for children in the age group of 6-14 years in schools for improving their nutrition level.
Also, every pregnant and lactating mother is entitled to a free meal at the local Anganwadi as well as maternity benefits of Rs.6,000 in installments.
However, this scheme excludes maternal benefits to the Government employees.
The identification of eligible households is left to the state governments. It also has provisions for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries in the case of non-supply of entitled foodgrain.
3. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin: This scheme aims to provide shelter to the poor through the replacement of Indira Awas Yojana which was launched as a subscheme of Jawahar Rozgar Yojana in 1985.
Indira Awas Yojna aims to help rural people who are below the poverty line. It also assists in the construction of dwelling units and up-gradation of the existing kutcha house.
Beneficiaries are mainly people belonging to SCs/STs, bonded labourers, widows and retired members of the paramilitary forces, disabled persons, and minorities.
It will be implemented in rural areas across the country except for Delhi and Chandigarh.
The target of the Government is to construct one crore pucca houses for the rural poor in the next three years.
This project will be implemented in three years and expected to boost job creation in rural areas.
The beneficiaries for this project will be chosen from the Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011. An allowance of Rs.120000 in plain areas and 130000 in hilly areas will be provided in form of assistance. Funds will be transferred directly to the account of the beneficiary through DBT.
4. PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana: This scheme was launched to accomplish the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and aims to supply free food grains to migrants and the poor.
80 crore individuals approximate two-thirds of India‘s population would be covered under this scheme.
They will be provided 5 kg free wheat/rice per person/month along with 1 kg free chana to each family per month.
Families belonging to the Below Poverty Line, identified by State or UTs, are eligible for this program.
Special provisions will be given to those households which are headed by the widows or disabled persons or persons aged 60 years or more with no assured means of subsistence or societal support.
Landless agriculture labourers and marginal farmers as well as rural artisans or craftsmen and persons earning their livelihood on daily basis in the informal sector in both rural and urban areas.
All eligible Below Poverty Line families and HIV-positive persons are also included in this program.
5. Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana: National Rural Livelihood Mission/Aajeevika has been subsumed into Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana.
This scheme is assisted by the World Bank and it aims to create efficient and effective institutional platforms for the rural poor to enable them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services.
Features including Universal, Social, and Mobilisation in which at least one woman member from each rural poor household is to be brought under the Self Help Group network.
The responsibility of identification of the beneficiary for this scheme is given to the Gram Sabha and approved by the Gram Panchayat.
In this scheme, the provision of financial inclusion through a bank account in the name of women is also g which leads to promotes financial literacy among the poor.
6. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana:
This scheme aims to provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport to connect remote villages with key services and amenities.
It was implemented in 250 blocks only on a pilot basis for a period of 3 years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
Under this scheme, community-based Organisations will provide interest-free loans from their own corpus to the Self Help Group members for the purchase of vehicles.
It has dual objectives of adding diversity to the incomes of the rural poor families and cater to the career aspirations of rural youth.
It also aims to transform rural poor youth into economically independent.
This scheme is focused on rural youths between the age of 15 and 35 years from poor families.
7. National Social Assistance Program:
It is a social security and welfare program to provide support to aged persons, widows, disabled persons, and bereaved families on the death of primary bread earners, belonging to below poverty line households.
Still, India has the largest population under poverty and there is a need to prioritize the removal of poverty.
If India wants to achieve a sustainable development goal there is a need to remove poverty as early as possible otherwise the burden of poverty will impact India’s growth in a negative way which India in the future can not sustain.
This article is written by;
Mr. Pankaj Kumar Gupta
(Email ID: [email protected])