Dynamics of Rural Poverty in India

Tuesday 29 March 2016

While poverty is something quite subjective, it can be broadly defined as the inability to secure minimum requirements of life – food, shelter and clothing. As per the findings of the 11th National Development Plan, more than 300 million people in India are labelled as poor. In the recently released rankings of countries from the perspective of GDP, food, health, life expectancy, etc (check this, it was released just now), India ranks 118 out of the 180 countries of the world. Even though the level of poverty and the number of poor have come down substantially during the last few decades, a lot more needs to be done in order to provide decent living standards to many people in India. Almost one-third of India’s population lives below the poverty line. Most of the poor people in India are based in rural areas. Poverty remains a chronic condition for almost 30 per cent of India’s rural population. The incidence of rural poverty has declined somewhat over the past three decades as a result of rural to urban migration but the situation still continues to remain worrisome.

The roots of poverty in India run the deepest among the members of scheduled castes and tribes in the country's rural areas. In 2005, these groups accounted for 80 per cent of poor rural people, although their share in the total rural population is much smaller. Donate money to social organizations today to help bring down the effects of poverty in India.

Causes and Effects of Rural Poverty
The nature of rural economy in India is such that it is extensively dependent on agriculture. Most of the people in rural areas are involved in agriculture which in turn is dependent on the vagaries of nature. In India, agriculture is largely reliant on monsoon which is unpredictable and can also get erratic. This often leads to insignificant yield or excess yield of a crop (which cannot be properly consumed). Shortage of irrigation facilities and recurring droughts add to the woes of farmers and they are hard pressed for money throughout the year. Many take loans which they struggle to repay. Sometimes, the situation gets so bad that many farmers end up committing suicide. The effects of abject rural poverty are such that many rural areas are devoid of even basic facilities like sanitation, infrastructure, communication, and education.

Personal attributes of people also contribute to the spread of poverty. For instance, a lot of people living in rural areas do not maintain good hygiene. This in turn leads to illnesses and to treat them, people end up spending huge sums of money and again get caught in the vicious cycles of poverty. Unwillingness to work, lack of education, alcohol and substance abuse, getting involved in anti-social activities, all lead to poverty in different ways.  Another very crucial reason for widespread poverty is extreme population growth in rural areas and among poor families. Big families find it difficult to sustain economically and have to live off limited means.

How NGOs Can Play a Role in Helping Poor
Along with civic bodies and different government agencies, independent, grass root-level Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can play (and are playing) a major role in curbing the extent of poverty in India. NGOs engage with the communities and work in the areas of sanitation, disease control, healthcare, education, emotional support, anchoring those in need etc. to help people move past the debilitating hurdles in life which keep them poor. NGOs like Save the Children are working amongst the most impoverished communities of India with an aim to empower them, especially children, to stand up on their feet. Education is a great enabler and empowers people to make it big in life and break free from the shackles of poverty. Save the Children has taken up the cause of educating the most disadvantaged children of India to give them opportunities to learn and make it big in life. Support an NGO today and help fight the menace of poverty.

Several complex reasons are responsible for rampant poverty in rural parts of India. A host of measures: government initiatives, schemes and work by NGOs are desperately needed to combat this menace.