Poverty as a Challenge - Revision Notes

 CBSE Class 09 Social Science

Revision Notes
Chapter 3

In our daily life we come across many poor people such as land less labourers in villages, people living in jhuggis, daily wage workers at construction sites, child labourers in dhabas, rickshaw-pullers, domestic servants, cobblers, beggars, etc.

About 30 crore people live in poverty.

Poverty : Usually the levels of income and consumption are used to define poverty. In India, poverty can be defined as the lack of common things like food, clothing and shelter , safe drinking water, medical care  and education, which determine quality of life.

Poverty has both dimensions economical and social.

Other Indicators of Poverty: Now poverty is looked through other social indicators like illiteracy level, lack of access to health care, lack of job opportunities, lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation, etc. Nowadays, the concept of social exclusion is becoming very common in the analysis of poverty.

Social exclusion means , generally poor are excluded in the community of better off people.


Vulnerability describes the greater probability of certain communities  or individuals of becoming, or remaining, poor in the coming years.

The people from backward cast, individuals like widows, physically handicapped are  more vulnerable.

They possess greater risks at the time of natural disasters.

Poverty Line 

It is based on the income or consumption level.

A person is considered poor if his or her income or consumption level falls below a given 'minimum level' necessary to satisfy basic needs.

Poverty line varies with time place.

For the year 2009-10, the poverty line for a person was fixed at  Rs.673 per month for rural area and Rs. 860 for the urban areas.

The poverty line is estimated periodically by conducting sample surveys by National Sample Survey Organisation. ( NSSO)

Estimates of Poverty: The incidence of poverty in India was around 55 per cent in 1973 which declined to 36 per cent in 1993 and further to 26 per cent in 2000.

The poverty in India is reduced percent wise but number wise it is huge.

Social groups which are most vulnerable to poverty are Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe households.

Inequality of Incomes within a Family: In poor families, old people, women and female children are denied equal access to family’s available resources. They are the poorest of the poor.

Inter-State Disparities : The proportion of poor people is not the same in every state. In 20 states and union territories the poverty ratio is less than the national average. Orissa and Bihar are the poorest states of India with poverty ratios of 47 per cent and 43 per cent respectively. Lowest incidence of poverty is found in Jammu and Kashmir with poverty ratio of just 3.5 per cent.

Global Poverty Scenario: There has been substantial decline in global poverty. However, it is marked with great regional differences. Poverty has declined more in China and South-East Asian countries.

World bank has defined poverty as the people earning less than 1.25 $ per day.

The Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations call for reducing the proportion of people below poverty line to half the 1990 level by 2015.

Causes of Poverty : There are a number of causes for the widespread poverty in India.

One historical reason is the low level of economic development under the British colonial administration.

There are some other reasons.

These are :

1. Rapid growth of population, particularly among the poor is considered a major cause of Indian poverty.

2. Our agricultural sector has failed to generate much employment opportunities for the farm labourers. Similarly, our industries could not provide much job for the job seekers.

3. One of the major causes of poverty is the unequal distribution of land and other resources. Various land reform measures introduced after Independence could not improve the life of millions of rural poor because of their poor implementation.

4. Social factors: People in India, including the very poor, spend a lot of money on social occasions like marriages, festivals, etc. Poor people hardly have any savings; they are, thus forced to borrow. Unable to pay because of poverty, they became victims of indebtedness.

Joint family system has prevented people from doing hard work.

  • Steps taken by the Government for Poverty Alleviation

Our government’s strategy to poverty reduction has been twofold. One, promotion of economic growth and, two, targeted poverty alleviation programmes.

Poverty Alleviation Programmes: To address the poor, a need for targeted anti-poverty programmes was strongly felt.

Some of them are given below :

1. Prime Minister Rojgar Yojana (PMRY): The aim of this programme (which was started in 1993) was to create self-employment opportunities for educated unemployed youth in rural areas and small towns.

2. Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP): REGP was launched in 1995 to create self-employment opportunities in rural areas.

3. Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY): SGSY was started in 1999. The programme aims at bringing the assisted poor families above the poverty line.

4. Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana (PMGY) was launched in 2000.

5. Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) for ‘the poorest of poor’s and elders.

6. National Food for Work Programme (NFWP) was launched in 2004.

7. National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was passed in September 2005. The Act provides 100-days assured employment every year to every rural household in 200 districts.

  • The Challenges Ahead : Though poverty has declined in India, poverty reduction remains India’s most compelling challenge. We will have to do something special to fight against wide regional disparities. We must broaden the definition of poverty from ‘a minimum subsistence level of living to a reasonable level of living’. Bigger challenges before us are: providing health care, education and job security for all the achieving gender equality.