The main causes of poverty in India are low economic growth during the colonial rule, population explosion, lack of job opportunities, Irregular low-paying employment, inequitable distribution of resources and indebtedness.
Anti-poverty measures taken by the Indian government are based on two main objectives: Increasing economic growth in the country and launching anti-poverty programmes for specific groups of people. Economic growth provides more resources and opportunities for human resource development like education, training and healthcare.
The Government of India has launched several anti-poverty programmes like the Prime Minister Rozgar Yojna, Rural Employment Guarantee Programme and Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojna which are aimed at generating self-employment opportunities in rural areas.
The Prime Minister Rozgar Yojna was launched in 1993 to create self-employment opportunities for educated, unemployed youths in rural areas and small towns. This programme assists such people in setting up small industries and business.
The Rural Employment Guarantee Programme launched in 1995 also aims to generate self-employment opportunities in rural areas and small towns. The Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojna started in 1999 aims at organising poor families into self-help groups and providing them bank loans and government subsidies to start small businesses and industries.
The Antyodaya Anna Yojna was started in 2000 to provide food grains to poor families at subsidised rates. The National Food for Work Programme was launched in 2004 in the 150 most backward districts of the country. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was passed in 2005. This act provides assured employment of 100 days per year to every household in rural areas. One-third of these jobs are reserved for women.
A person not provided employment within 15 days of registering under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, is entitled to a daily unemployment allowance.
Human poverty extends beyond the traditional definition of poverty to include lack of housing, education, healthcare, job security, and lack of equal opportunities or dignity, due to discrimination based on caste, colour or gender.
India’s future in combating poverty appears bright. Rising economic growth, falling population growth rate, radical schemes for free elementary education for all and empowerment of women and the weaker sections of society, should result in an appreciable reduction of poverty in the years to come.