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Sansad TV: Poverty Eradication- IMF Report on India

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Introduction:

Poverty is the general scarcity of a certain amount of material possessions or money (< $1.25/day) and includes social, economic, and political concepts. Absolute poverty (as defined by UN) is “a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information.”

Poverty alleviation programs in India since Independence:

  • Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP)
  • Jawahar Rozgar Yojana/Jawahar Gram Samriddhi Yojana
  • Rural Housing – Indira Awaas Yojana: The Indira Awaas Yojana (LAY) programme aims at providing free housing to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in rural areas and main targets would be the households of SC/STs.
  • Food for Work Programme: It aims at enhancing food security through wage employment. Food grains are supplied to states free of cost, however, the supply of food grains from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns has been slow.
  • National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS): This pension is given by the central government. The job of implementation of this scheme in states and union territories is given to panchayats and municipalities.
  • Annapurna: This scheme was started by the government in 1999–2000 to provide food to senior citizens
  • Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana (SGRY): The main objective of the scheme continues to be the generation of wage employment, creation of durable economic infrastructure in rural areas and provision of food and nutrition security for the poor.
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005: The Act provides 100 days assured employment every year to every rural household. One-third of the proposed jobs would be reserved for women.  The central government will also establish National Employment Guarantee Funds.
  • National Rural Livelihood Mission: Ajeevika (2011)
  • National Urban Livelihood Mission
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana: It will focus on fresh entrant to the labour market, especially labour market and class X and XII dropouts.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana: It aimed at direct benefit transfer of subsidy, pension, insurance etc. and attained the target of opening 1.5 crore bank accounts. The scheme particularly targets the unbanked poor.

Challenges:

  • India is still far from achieving SDG 1.
  • Incidence of extreme poverty continues to be much higher in rural areas than in urban areas.
  • Despite rapid growth and development, an unacceptably high proportion of our population continues to suffer from severe and multidimensional deprivation.
  • The resources allocated to anti-poverty programmes are inadequate and there is a tacit understanding that targets will be curtailed according to fund availability.
  • There is no method to ensure that programmes reach everybody they are meant for.
  • Lack of proper implementation and right targeting
  • There has been a lot of overlapping of schemes.

Way Forward:

  • Accelerating rural poverty reduction:
    • It’s not just about agricultural growth, which has long been considered the key driver of poverty reduction. In fact, rural India is not predominantly agricultural and shares many of the economic conditions of smaller urban areas.
  • Creating more and better jobs:
    • The road out of poverty in India has been built on the performance of the labor market, but also benefited from rising transfers and remittances, and favorable demographics among other factors.
  • Focusing on women and Scheduled Tribes:-
    • The most worrying trends are the low participation of women in the labor market and the slow progress among scheduled tribes.
  • Creating more good locations:-
    • Where people live largely shapes their prospects in life. India’s states continue to see large and growing differences in poverty levels and basic opportunities.
  • Improving human development outcomes for the poor:
    • This is central to improving their quality of life and income earning opportunities.
  • Banking and credit sector reforms.
  • We need to start taxing wealth and not only income.

Would a Universal Basic Income (UBI) have been better?

  • It would probably have been easier to implement, but would have come with a bigger financial tabeven if the top two income deciles are excluded.
  • Remember, however, that developed economies have experimented with UBI, but have not been persuaded of its efficacy.
  • It is difficult to begrudge a welfare measure targeted at the poorest people in a country that even to this day.

Conclusion:

  • Poverty eradication should not be the goal of the government but goal of the government policies should be to create prosperity.
  • The indicator is based on the health and education statusof a population apart from per capita income, bringing us back to the relevance of income generation to poverty.
  • It has been estimated that if the absence of such services is accounted for, poverty in India would be found to be far higher than recorded at present.
  • The budgetary implication of the scale at which public services would have to be provided if we are to eliminate multi-dimensional povertymay now be imagined.
  • This allows us to appraise the challenge of ending effective povertyand to assess the potential of the income-support schemes proposed by the main political parties.