A Perspective on Rural Poverty

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

I. Rural poverty – Facts on rural poverty

Rural poverty Facts on rural poverty

Villages are the back bone of India. Nearly 72% of Indian population resides in villages, and 10% of rural households are reported to be landless. Agricultural wage earners, smallholder farmers and casual workers in the non-farm sector constitute the bulk of poor rural people. Within these categories, women and tribal communities are the most deprived. About 300 million young people aged 13 to 35 live in rural areas and most of them are forced to migrate seasonally or permanently, without the skills and competencies required by the modern economy that India is rapidly becoming.

Poverty in rural areas appears more in backward castes and tribes. The poorest cities of the country map are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. Most of the poor people of India live in the country’s semi-arid tropical region. In these areas shortage of water and recurrent droughts delay the transformation of agriculture that the green revolution achieved elsewhere. The major part of poverty appears in flood-prone areas like Uttar Pradesh, Assam plains and northern Bihar. Unavailability of claims to the natural resources in forest areas has made them even poorer. People who are living in coastal fishing communities are suffering from poor conditions due to environmental degradation, stock depletion and vulnerability to natural disasters.

Reduced economic growth and increased poverty levels are the major factors for the under development of the country. Poverty is continuing in rural areas with insufficient physical and social infrastructure, poor access to services, and inequalities in assets and status and power.

Causes of Rural Poverty:

Some of the basic reasons of rural poverty in India are:

• Unequal distribution of income
• High population growth
• Illiteracy
• Big families
• Caste system

Disadvantages of Rural Poverty:

Rural poverty poses below disadvantages to the society:

• Presence of malnutrition
• Illiteracy
• Diseases
• Long term health problems
• Unhygienic living conditions
• Lack of proper housing
• High infant mortality rate
• Injustice to women
• Social ill-treatment of certain sections of society

II. Factors responsible for the rural poverty

Factors responsible for the rural poverty

Various factors are responsible for the rural India poverty:

1. Personal factors

Various personal factors play a major role in determining the economic status of a person. In this modern scientific era, one may not believe in the fate but no one can deny the importance of personal capacity and efforts in his life style and life pattern. The important personal factors that cause poverty are as follows.

• Sickness

A person’s income decreases due to the unhealthy conditions. A major part of his income is spent for health purposes. As per Hunter “Poverty and sickness form a vicious partnership each helping the other to add to the miseries of most unfortunate of mankind.”

• Mental disease

Poverty, unemployment and incapability of a person to do anything also increase poverty.

• Accident

Some incidents in a person’s life make him incapable of working. When a person’s income sources decrease automatically the poverty increases.

• Idleness and extravagance

Idleness and overspending nature of rural people also cause poverty in India. So the cause of poverty is not because of the lower income but sometimes it may be because of over spending with low income.

• Demoralization

Due to the illiteracy and lower morale some persons are addicted to drinking, gambling and other social evils.

2. Biological factors

Population is also one of the considerable causes of poverty. More children exhibit low standards of living ultimately leading to poverty.

3. Geographical factors

Geographical factors

Geographical factors also play an important role in increasing poverty.

• Unfavorable climate and weather

Unfavourable climate and weather delay the work and production of agricultural activities and result in less production and poverty.

• Absence of natural resources

Natural resources are sources of income generation for a country. A country cannot develop in the absence of natural resources like fertile land, minerals, natural products etc.

• Natural calamities

Natural calamities and disasters like flood, earthquake, volcanic explosion, typhoons, tornado, cyclone etc cause serious damages to humanity. Absence of rain and drought causes heavy loss to agriculture thus increasing poverty.

4. Economical factors

Economical factors

Economical factors play a key role in widespread of the poverty. The important economical factors are as follows:

• Backwardness of agriculture

The main occupation of rural India is agriculture and they still depend upon the traditional old techniques. Lack of modern machines, tools, scientific methods, improved seeds, manures, inadequate irrigation facilities, constant fragmentation of land and exploitation by the landlords etc hampers the agricultural production to a great extent.

• Slow and defective industrialization

Industrialization has taken slow phase in India due to lack of financial resources, skilled and technically trained personnel, irregular supply of power and raw materials etc. Unavailability of resources in rural also deprives the rural poor from getting employment in industries.

• Unequal distribution

Unequal distribution of wealth leaves a majority of population in this state of unemployment.

• Unwise economic policy

Inability of utilizing the natural resources in a proper way results in economic backwardness of India.

5. Social factors

Religious and social factors play dominant role in the Indian society. All these issues lead to poverty.

6. Political factors

Before independence, the economy of India was exploited by the British rulers and after independence, our political leaders to some extent are responsible for ruining our country.

III. Steps to eradicate rural poverty

Steps to eradicate rural poverty

1. Poverty and unemployment are interrelated. Creation of more employment opportunities in agriculture sector may improve the situations. Thus, there should be a proper and good arrangement of irrigation through minor and major projects.

2. Development of agriculture marketing system may eradicate the agriculture unemployment in the country.

3. Strengthening the land reform system and redistribution of the lands to landless laborers and the marginal sub marginal farmers may help.

4. The government should encourage the animal husbandry, poultry and fish farming to overcome the malnutrition and unemployment.

5. Farmers should be engaged in other subsidiary industries such as furniture making, weaving, spinning, and match, barked and ropes etc when they were not engaged in cultivation.

6. Establishing some small scale industries in rural areas may create more employment opportunities to the rural people.

7. The poverty eradication programmes offered by the government should be implemented in a proper way. There should be a monitoring system to see whether the fruits of the government schemes are reaching to the poor or not.

8. Family planning and family welfare programmes should be implemented properly. Adequate awareness about small family norm has to be created among the people and steps should be taken to make it a people programme.

IV. Government of India efforts to remove poverty in rural areas

The government of India has taken many initiatives to eradicate poverty in India. Below are some of the measures which have been taken to remove rural poverty:

1. Legal Elimination of Bonded Laborers
2. Preventing the centralization of wealth by modifying the Law
3. Antyodaya Plan
4. Small Farmer Development Program (SFDP)
5. Drought Area Development Program (DFDP)
6. Twenty Point Program
7. Food for Work Program
8. Minimum Needs Program (MNP)
9. Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP)
10. National Rural Employment Program (NREP)
11. Rural Labor Employment Guarantee Program (RLEGP)
12. Jawahar Gram Samriddhi Yojana (JGSY)
13. Family Planning / Welfare Program for Population Control
14. Employment Assurance Scheme
15. Scheme for Rural Artisans / Craftsmen
16. DWCRA Program
17. Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana
18. Mahila Samriddhi Yojana
19. National Social Assistance Program (NSAP)
20. Group Life Insurance Scheme for Rural Areas
21. Rural Housing Program
22. Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana (PMGY)
23. Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana
24. Sampurna Gramin Rozgar Yojana
25. Indira Awaas Yojana
26. Samagra Awaas Yojana
27. Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yojana
28. Agriculture Income Insurance Scheme
29. National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

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