Poverty is a problem that is faced by each and every type of society. Society, as affluent as the USA, also has 14-15% of poor people. Usually, poverty in developing societies is more widespread. As already discussed, developing societies often face a scarcity of resources. On account of this, they fail to meet the need of their vast population which aggravates the problem of poverty in such societies.

It was only in the early 60s that there was recognition of the prevalence of poverty around the world. For most of the countries poverty, earlier was only an economic problem. In recent times there have been acceptances of poverty as a social problem.

Poverty in India:

India lives in villages. As many as 72% of the Indian population reside in rural areas. This makes the nature of India predominantly agrarian. Agriculture is an activity-dependent on monsoon put a question on the income generation of farmers. This pushes a huge number of people, In India, into the lap of poverty.

Systematic discussion on poverty in India started in the 1960s.The experts at that time calculated that if the income of the person is less than$20/- per capita per month he is said to be below the poverty line. The amounts were different for urban areas. The amount was based on what is needed to buy a specific amount of calories (2400 calories per person per day)

Types of poverty

There are 2 types of poverty

  • Absolute poverty
  • Relative poverty

Absolute poverty:-

It is referred to as the ability of the person to fulfill his basic necessities. It is sometimes also called subsistence poverty. It is the condition of acute physical wants, starvation, malnutrition, and lack of other basic needs like shelter or medical care.

Relative poverty:-

According to the concept, poverty is defined as per the standards of society at a given time and place. Since the standards of society keep on changing the definition of poverty also changes. However, different dimension and standards makes it difficult to arrive at a particular and universal definition of poor.

The perspective of poverty:-

  • Income perspective
  • Basic needs perspective
  • Capacity perspective

Income perspective

If a person cannot fulfill his basic needs and he falls` below the poverty line according to national standards, he is confirmed as poor, Global criteria is that if a person has an income of less than one dollar a day, he is considered as poor.in some countries, poverty is measured in terms of shortage of food, nutrition, or calorie count which is a result of income poverty.

Basic needs perspective

It includes deprivation in terms of basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, health education, etc. Generally, it is the result of unequal distribution of resources.

Capacity perspective:

It refers to the lack of opportunities for leading a meaningful life as a useful and required individual in the society such as no choice of participating in the political process, having is role or status in the society such as no choice of participating in the political process, having is role or status in the society, etc.

Characteristic of poverty:-

  • Hunger, malnutrition
  • Poor health
  • Limited economic opportunities
  • Lack of basic facilities
  • Gender inequality

Hunger, malnutrition

Hunger is, above all, a consequence of poverty; some who are poor have insufficient money for food but also can’t provide for their own health and can’t invest in education. People who are poor are more likely to be affected by different forms of malnutrition.

Poor health

People are also faced with many problems for their health issues. They can’t buy any expensive medicine because they don’t have sufficient money. They suffer many diseases and they die from these diseases.

Limited economic opportunities

The economic problems related to rural areas are the inability to adopt high cost of inputs, underprivileged rural industries, low income, indebtedness, and the existence of inequality in landholdings and assets.

Lack of basic facilities

Lack of basic facilities includes adequate water and sanitation, shelter, cloth, and medical care. These basic needs for rural areas are often challenging.

Gender inequality:

Extreme poverty disproportionately affects women because they do not have as many opportunities as men to receive an education or own property.

Cause of poverty:

The cause of poverty can be understood by realizing that it is a problem deep-rooted in our social structure itself. Poverty has been with human culture and civilization for ages. At the beginning of the development of human society, human beings were at a low level of social organization and technological developments.

Following are some major factors that cause poverty:

  • Rapidly rising population
  • Low Productivity in Agriculture
  • Under-utilized Resources
  • Low Rate of Economic Development
  • Price Rise
  • Unemployment
  • Shortage of Capital
  • Social and political

Rapidly rising population

The population during the last 45years has increased at the rate of 2.2% per annum. On average if million people are added every year to its population which raises the demand for consumption goods considerably.

Low Productivity in Agriculture

The level of productivity in agriculture is low due to subdivided and fragmented holdings, lack of capital, use of traditional methods of cultivation illiteracy, etc. This is the main cause of poverty in the country.

Under-Utilized Resources

The existence of underemployment and disguised unemployment of resources and underutilization of resources have resulted in low production in the agricultural sector. This brought a downfall in their standard of living.

Low Rate of Economic Development

The rate of economic development in India has been below the required level. Therefore, there persists a gap between the level of availability and requirements of goods and services. The net result it poverty.

Price rise

The continuous and step price has added to the miseries of the poor. It has benefited a few people in the society and the persons in lower in the group find it difficult to get their minimum needs.


The continuously expanding army of unemployed is another cause of poverty. The job seekers are increasing in number at a higher rate than the expansion in employment opportunities.  Shortage Capital and able entrepreneurship have an important role in accelerating growth but these are in short supply making it difficult to increase production significantly.

Social & political factors

The social setup is still backward id not conducive to faster development laws of inheritance, caste systems, traditions, and customs are putting hindrances in the way of faster development and have aggravated the problem of poverty.

In independent India, the development plans have been guided by political interest. Hence, the planning has failed to tackle the problems of poverty and unemployment.


Lack of infrastructure rural poverty is often a product of poor infrastructure that hinders development and mobility. Rural areas lack sufficient roads that would increase access to agricultural inputs and markets.

Education and social service inadequacies lack access to education and limited opportunities to improve one`s skill set inhabit social mobility.

Lack of education also leads to malnutrition among the rural poor. Social isolation makes access to health care facilities difficult for the rural poor. This results in increasing malnutrition, infant mortality rate, and others disease.

Limited access to employment here are few employment opportunities in rural areas except agriculture which results in food and income insecurity. The rural poor often lack access to capital markets and financial institutions, hindering their abilities to establish savings and obtain credit that could be used to purchase their supply of raw materials poor access to credit and capital perpetuates rural poverty.

Anti-poverty programme

Pradhanmantri gramodaya yojana was started in 2000 and its main focus was village level development, especially in five areas including primary health care, primary education, housing, rural roads, and drinking water and nutrition In 1997, a targeted public distribution system was launched with focus on the poor. Under this, the states are required to formulate and implement proof arrangements for the identification of the poor for delivery of food grains and for its distribution in a transparent and accountable manner.

Autodaya anna yojana is a step in the direction of making a targeted public distribution system aimed at reducing hunger among the poorest segments of the below-the-poverty-line population. This section of the population can be called as hungry.

Indira awas yojana aims at creating housing for everyone. This scheme provides money to the poor to build houses. It also provides loans to people at subsidized rates to make houses.

Pradhan mantra gram sadak yojana aims at building roads and linking the entire village to the nearest towns and cities. This could help in reducing poverty by increasing connectivity and market access to the rural population.

Nirmal bharat is another programme that aims to improve drinking water and sanitation facilities in rural areas.

Bharat nirman is a plan for creating and regulating basic rural infrastructure. It comprises projects on irrigation, roads, housing, water supply, electronification, and telecommunication. The infrastructure is the most important factor which can help the poor to come out of the clutches of poverty.

An interest subsidy scheme for housing the urban poor is a programme initiated by the central government to help the poor in realizing their dream of `my home` by financially assisting in the form of lending house loans at a subsidized rate of interest.

Rajiv awas yojana for the slum dwellers and the urban poor envisages a `slum-free India` through encouraging states/uts to tackle the problem of slums in definitive manners. It will support slum development and the construction of affordable housing.


In conclusion, poverty is not the problem of a person but of the whole nation. Also, it should be dealt with on an urgent basis by the implementation of effective measures. In addition, eradication of poverty has become necessary for sustainable and inclusive growth of people, society, country, and economy.


BY :-Sarojini Barik
MSW (Master of social work)
Narasingh choudhury autonomous college ,Jajpur