Poverty in India after 1990's


The Republic of India is currently facing one of the biggest problems in global scale, which is poverty. One third of the population lives beyond the poverty line and it does not look like things are going to change drastically in the near future. Living in such an inhumane conditions is not fair, that is why the problem of poverty is not mere a problem of one country. The whole world must become even more aware of this phenomenon, trying to reduce it forever. Some actions towards poverty reduction have been already made.

Public Distribution System and Midday Meal Scheme are a good evidence of it. However, corruption, caste system, distrust in government does not fasten the process. In such a case the best solution is to borrow anti-poverty schemes from the countries who are more successful and, with a strict supervision and control, implement them at home. By doing this India could create more working places and dwellings, put their farming industry into a new level, economically secure their citizens, and, step-by-step, become a country with the least poverty rate in the world.

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The poverty has been one of the biggest problems of the mankind. People throughout the world are suffering from this phenomenon, and there are some countries which live beyond the poverty line. One of such countries is India which is situated in South Asia. The paper deals with the poverty in India after 1990’s. It provides statistics, explains the situation of poverty, and how it effects in population. The paper also examines the experience of third world countries in their battle against poverty.  

Overall Situation

The Republic of India is the second most populous country in the world. According to the recent data, the number of population in it has risen to almost 1,3 billion people. It is increasing very fast which is, in its turn, triggers the increase in labor supply. In such conditions, the wage rate is shrinking, so people are not payed decently for their work. The families are very big, small children cannot work, and per capita income is very low which means low standard of life. 

Climate conditions aggravate the situations, as those tribals who live on mountains or drought prone areas have higher degree of food insecurity.  The hot weather decreases the capacity of people to work while frequent earthquakes, floods, cyclones damage the agriculture. According to statistics, 70% of India’s population lives in rural areas and makes money from land cultivation.     

According to Indian laws, people who earn less than 33 rupees a day in cities and 27 rupees in villages fall into the category of poor people. At the same time the prices are sky-high and most of the population cannot afford things of the first necessity. Lots of people live in streets, they are dirty and hungry. Schools and universities are a big luxury in India. 1 dollar is equal to 68,19 rupees, thereby people in urban areas have 0,49 cents a day to feed themselves and their families while the loaf of fresh white bread costs 26,70 rupees which is equal to 0,39 cents. Hence, poor Indians can buy only a loaf of bread a day and literally nothing more. Tribal people and labor class come to be the poorest in the country. Women, infants, children, old people are also very vulnerable as they do not work and must rely on their families or governmental programs. 

Caste System

The caste system in one of the reasons of poverty in India. Even though, officially, the caste system was abolished in 1950, it is close to impossible to get rid of it. The things are harder for Dalits (150 million people) or untouchable, who are outcastes. Any landowner would not offer them a job, because they are considered to be thefts. This prejudice came from old times, that is why these people are prone to live beyond the poverty line. 

The unequal distribution of wealth and access to opportunities makes things even worse. There is a big gap between upper and lower caste. People of upper caste have better opportunities, jobs, access to commodities while those from lower caste die from hunger. They are exploited, oppressed and discriminated. There was an incident when the whole family committed suicide because they simply did not have anything to eat. People from lower caste make the majority of population which comes to be illiterate, lacking proper kind of skills and training. In the world, where education is a key factor of economic changes, India has nothing to offer and that is why it is so deeply immersed in the state of poverty.

Private Property Losses

The biggest responsibility for the situation in India lies on the government which is ignoring the harsh life conditions of its citizens. For instance, it does not control private property. Anyone can come and take away someone’s else land without paying decent compensation. People simply do not trust their government, so they do not want to invest much in their land and make them more profitable. 

Jobs, Housing and Education

The government also does not care about creating more jobs, social institutions, housing. People who moved from villages have to live in slumps, because there is no room for them in cities. Of course, those who have some relatives or friends in cities do better, but the rest are less fortunate. 

Speaking about statistics, a half of population in India does not have proper dwelling, 70% do not have access to toilets, they live in unhygienic conditions. Such people are prone to different bacteria and diseases. The water supply is very bad, nearly 35% of housing areas live without any water source. As to the education, the things here are even worse. People in villages are illiterate as 85% of them does not have secondary schools. The same is with infrastructure in villages, 40% of them do not have proper roads. Taking into account that 70% of population is rural, it can be concluded that the overall situation with wellbeing in the country is on decline. 


Gender discrimination still exists in India. Girls are sees as a financial burden, while boys are the only source of income. In the prevailing conditions of poverty, women are forced to look for employment to make a living, and very often they face hard, exploitative and even dangerous jobs. Women cannot get proper education, lack of childcare facilities and disability to be mobile keep women in marginal sectors. In such conditions women are totally dependent on their husbands or fathers.

Health Problems

The effects of poverty in India result in malnutrition, because healthy food is expensive and most of families just cannot afford to buy high quality food. Then comes health problems including different diseases, sometimes life-threatening, access to medicine and life-expectancy. Only those from upper caste can benefit from the medicine which is on high level in India. The rest of the population suffer from diseases, mainly caused by malnutrition and climate issues. As to life expectancy, it is much lower than in more developed counties, like the USA. The average life duration is up to 30 years less than in the rest of the world. Another serious problem is child mortality. 13,5% of children dies before the age of 5.

Steps to Improve Poverty

Since 1990’s some things to improve poverty in the country were done. However, it cannot be said that poverty was eliminated for good. These are only some steps to reduce in and much more is yet to be dome to move people from the position below the poverty line to at least middle class. These are the implementation of Public Distribution System, Child Development Services, Midday Meal Scheme as well as the creation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. 

Agriculture has always been one of the most vulnerable sectors in India. So the main emphasis was made on capitalizing on connectivity between rural areas and cities. Even though, majority of the population lives in rural areas, they are not fully independent, they share economic conditions form urban areas. According to recent data, the Republic of India is about to spend two trillion rupees on building new roads connecting small rural areas with large cities. 

Then, labor market which is the country currently working on. The overall labor income has increased since 1990’s and people’s purchasing power is a bit bigger than it used to be. However, these actions are not enough, for instance, the government’s objectives must be on creating more jobs, especially in more productive sectors, as the unemployment rate is still high. Creating more housing areas comes along with creating working places.  

It has to be mentioned that in 2005, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was introduced in India. According to which, people in rural areas are guaranteed the right to work. Those families, where adult men agreed to do unskilled manual work are provided with at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year. Most villagers have “Job Card” which allows them to get employed on local public works for some time. This literally saves lots of families from hunger. 

Since 1997 Public Distribution System distributes subsidized food to poor areas in the country. Ration shops were established in several regions and people can come there to take some food or non-food products. For instance, an average family receives 35kg of rice every month at a symbolic price. Even though the system is not flawless, because fallouts and corruption is present in it, it works and slightly, but facilitates lives of the poorest. 

Midday Meal Scheme which has been working from 1995 is a solution for malnutrition. According to the scheme, children receive a free lunch on working days at school. The program is successful and it has lots of benefits, including the increase of literacy rate and overall socializing, as it attracts children from disadvantaged sections to school. 

Another welfare program launched by the government is Integrated Child Development Services which aims to provide children under 6 years of age and their mother with food, primary healthcare and preschool education. Within this program girls have the same rights to be supported as boys. So, Integrated Child Development Services reduces gender inequality. However, a study carried out in 2005 have shown that the program was not very effective as not all regions could get equal assistance. The poorer regions received less funding than the richer ones. This is the result of red tape which is dying hard the country. 

The government has also made a small progress in the Health Care System since 1990’s. Comparing to the past, vaccination programs have increased throughout India. Now people have higher chances to be  cured straight away. However, it is not enough as deaths from untreated illnesses are still high.

Third World Countries’ Experience

Poverty is a big problem worldwide and lots of countries are suffering it nowadays. However, in changing economics, more and more nations are on their way to first reduce and then overcome the this phenomenon. Such steps as increasing of education quality, access to health care, economic security have been already taken in the countries of the third world.

Vietnam is a good example of the country which has achieved a lot in the process of crisis reduction. For example, they improved infrastructure, created more jobs, upgraded educational institutions. Additionally, they increased people’s awareness for better living standards. As a result primary and secondary enrolments increased 90% and 70% respectively. Certainly, some portion of the population are still suffering poverty, but, in general, the situation there is improving and people have all chances to overcome poverty.   

Brazil is also working on the improvement of education. The government paid families regular help if they complied with the rules of a program called Bolsa Familia. According to it, every family received a monthly subside to send their children to school and to undergo medical examinations. They also received money if children under 17 attended school, pregnant checked at doctors on a regular basis, children by the age 5 were immunized. The program turned to be very successful and could serve as an example to other countries.  

As to the improvement in Health Care System, the Oxford researchers discovered that in Bangladesh, child mortality has decreased by 60% since the turn of the millennium. The number of mother dying while delivering a baby has fallen threefold. Approximately 88% of children are immunized against measles, diphtheria and polio comparing to 1% in 1985. 

The agriculture in Ethiopia is as developed as in India, so this country greatly focused on their battle against poverty. It has introduced new agricultural practices which are reducing poverty by 4% every year. It has also launched a social program which helps people with food and other necessities, build schools, infrastructure, and hospitals. The results show that the program lifter 1,5 million of people out of poverty.

From the experience of these countries, the first step, India is to take in reducing poverty, is introducing more social programs with a string supervision and control, so that people could not steal from them. And, of course, education is of vital importance. The very first measure is to teach teenagers to be aware that the poverty can be eliminated, that everybody deserves equal rights and attitude. A new generation must know nothing about gender discrimination, girls should receive education in the same amount as boys, they should be offering jobs in any company according to their expertise. Building new roads and infrastructure is necessary to connect distant rural areas from cities to enable farmers sell their products. The government should work hard on overcoming corruption. Step by step, poverty can be beaten and people in India will live the life they deserve.

To sum up, poverty is poor state when people lack sufficient food, proper shelter and other basic necessities. This phenomenon is widespread around the globe. India is one of the countries where poverty is very high, and very few things is being done to improve the situation. The poverty in India has very deep roots, the majority of the country lives under the poverty line, people are dying from such harsh conditions, they do not receive enough treatment, they do not believe the government and they, literally, survive. No one deserves such life and while in the West pensioners, for example, travel and discover new things, the elderly in India is decreasing as t life expectancy is very low. There are a variety of countries which are working on eliminating poverty. They are introducing new strategies and policies, improving Health Care System, economically support their citizens and all this work. So, India has all chances to adopt such experience and start everything over, and build a strong and a rich country.


Mar 23, 2020 in Informative
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