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8th December 2020 – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. A ‘duet’ for India’s urban women
  2. Investing in India’s youth



The COVID-19 crisis has drawn attention to the insecurities that haunt the lives of the urban poor specially women.


GS Paper 2: Poverty and associated issues

Mains Questions:

  1. Public works could provide valuable support to the urban poor, especially if women get most of the jobs. Discuss. 15 marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • About Urban Poor in India
  • Causes of urban poverty
  • Issues related to urban poor
  • Measures taken by the Government
  • Way Forward

About Urban Poor in India

India has witnessed tremendous growth over the last two decades, the proportion of poor below the poverty line has dropped from 45% to 22% between 1994 and 2012. Close to 133 million Indians have been lifted out of poverty. The Indian government is committed to poverty eradication which the Honourable Prime Minister of India noted “remains the greatest unfinished business of the 20th century”.

  • In India’s development strategy, removal of poverty became a dominant objective initially in the Fifth Five-year Plan (1974-79).
  • According to the report of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (2001) about 23.5% of urban households are slum dwellers.
  • This percentage had decreased to 17% by 2011 even though the total number of households living in slums had gone up from 10.5 million in 2001 to 13.75 million in 2011.
  • The majority of urban poverty growth happens in mega cities.
Povert Line in India er-ca 
Committee on Poverty 
Tendulkar committee 
Ran ara•an Committee 
ita er month at 2011-12 
rices All data or 2011-12 
Rs. 816 
Rs. 72 
Rs. 1000 
Rs. 1407 
30. % 
Urban All India 
21. %

Causes of Urban Poverty

  • Uncontrolled migration:
    • The lack of infrastructure in rural areas, forces inhabitants of these regions to seek out work in India’s mega-cities.
    • As more and more people make this migration, the space left to accommodate them becomes less and less.
    • Urban development can’t keep up with the growing numbers of informal settlers and leads to an increase in the number of slums.
  • Lack of investment:
    • Urban poverty is a result of the lack of opportunities and skills training for most of the working age population.
    • Over the years, a shortage of adequate investment in quality education and basic services like health, sanitation, waste management and skill training has had its consequences.
    • It has led to generations of malnourished, uneducated, unaware and unskilled or semi-skilled people who find it difficult to find decent paying jobs.
  • Lack of infrastructure in villages:
    • Due to lack of basic amenities and employment options in villages people migrate to cities.
    • Agriculture is barely a lucrative option in villages, so their only job option is to seek out work in the cities’ informal economies.
    • Millions migrate to the cities every day to take up informal jobs such as domestic help, taxi driving, construction site work, etc.
    • However, this creates overcrowding in the already packed urban infrastructure.

Issues related to urban poor

  • Housing Vulnerability: Majority of urban poor generally live in low quality unhygienic areas such as slums. They have no ownership rights and entitlements. As occupants construct on the empty land, the civic body does not provide them basic amenities- therefore they have no access to individual water connection, toilets, electricity, and roads. Also, poor live in unhealthy and insanitary living conditions. According to Census 2011, 17.7% of urban population comprising 65 million people lives in slums.
  • Economic Vulnerability: Irregular employment with low wages makes them more vulnerable. This restricts availability of formal credit from banks, they have no access to formal safety net programmes, and productive assets.
  • Social Vulnerability: The income inequality creates divergence between lower strata of society i.e. poor and middle class. It increases social differences in education and skill development programmes.
  • Personal Vulnerability: At personal level, poor are more vulnerable for getting social justice in their day-to-day work. The poor are victims of all types of injustice and violence. Particularly, low caste people and minority, especially women, children, the elderly, disabled and destitute have no access to social justice.

Measures taken by the Government

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) is the nodal agency at the Centre responsible for development of urban poor. There are various schemes which address various vulnerabilities of the urban poor.

  • To address Housing Vulnerability: The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the MoHUPA, in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022. The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers.
  • To address Economic Vulnerability:
    • MoHUPA is implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) for reducing the poverty and vulnerability of urban poor households since 2013. The Mission covers all the statutory towns, to be decided by the State as per local need and capability.
    • Also, the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 aims to protect the rights of urban street vendors and to regulate street vending activities. So far 33 States/UTs have notified the scheme. Meghalaya has its own Street Vendors Act.
  • To address Social Vulnerability: Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) and Atal Pension Yojana (APY) seek to bring unorganised sector workers and poor across the country (including rural areas) under the safety net of insurance and pension.

Way Forward

COVID-19 has forced us to look at imbalanced growth planning of cities and an impoverished urban population. In such a scenario, following suggestions could be implemented to tackle the persisting challenges-

  • Reform the Urban Governance: Rebuild urban governance model on the following pillars: Convergence and accountability; urban populace specific schemes; wider public participation; and use of the latest technologies. Also Urban local bodies must be financially and administratively strengthened.
  • Build a credible Database of the urban poor and migrants, along with mapping their skills that is maintained centrally at the district level. The national migrant database, announced by the National Disaster Management Authority is a step in this direction. o This data shall also assist policy makers in developing tailor-made schemes for the urban populace.
  • Decentralise urban growth: Urban planning should be decentralised by focusing on smaller cities and towns. This will lessen the burden of migrant population on megacities and also enhance the liveability within the city.
  • Address Health and social vulnerability: Learning from COVID pandemic should be incorporated to focus on social determinants of healthcare by creating a robust, equitable and sustainable infrastructure that should be inclusive for all levels of society and ensure strong grassroots level partnership with communities



With the largest youth population in the world, India faces the difficult task of educating every citizen to become a productive member of society.


GS Paper 2: Social Sector & Social Services (health, education, human resources – issues in development, management);

Mains Questions:

  1. “Demographic Dividend in India will remain only theoretical unless our manpower becomes more educated, aware, skilled and creative.” What measures have been taken by the government to enhance the capacity of our population to be more productive and employable? 15 marks
  2. With the largest youth population in the world, India faces the difficult task of educating every citizen to become a productive member of society. Discuss

Dimensions of the Article

  • Status of skill development in India
  • Why skill development is needed in India
  • Issues related to skill development in India
  • The government initiatives related to skill development
  • Way forward

Status of skill development in India

India is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 54% of the total population below 25 years of age. India’s workforce is the second largest in the world after China’s. While China’s demographic dividend is expected to start tapering off by 2015, India will continue to enjoy it till 2040. However, India’s formally skilled workforce is approximately 2% – which is dismally low compared to China (47%), Japan (80%) or South Korea (96%).To leverage our demographic dividend more substantially and meaningfully, the Government launched the “Skill India” campaign along with “Make in India”.

Key Findings of India Skills Report 2020

  • Employability of India’s youth has remained stagnant for the past three years, lingering at 46.21% of participants who are job-ready.
  • Female employability witnessed an upward trend at 47% while that of male workforce declined from 47.39% in 2019 to 46% this year. This reflects the opportunity for the industries to leverage female resource pool.
  • Top 5 skills that Employers emphasize on are domain knowledge, adaptability to the environment, learning agility and positive attitude and interpersonal skills.
  • Only 60% of students were aware of the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS).
  • About 50% of employers acknowledge the role of government initiated programmes in recruitments, of which almost 9 in 10 employers admit that candidates meet their requirements.
Dear PM Modi, India is Already Land of Self-Employed, and It Ain't Working  - Vivek Kaul's Diary

Why skill development is needed in India:

  • High unemployment rates: There is a direct link between India’s under skilled workforce and high unemployment rates.
  • Demographic dividend: India is expected to have the largest workforce in the world by 2025. To utilize this demographic dividend effectively, skill development must take primacy.
  • Moving towards innovation: As we aspire to become a knowledge-based economy, development of highly skilled human capital is the key to raise innovation quotient of the workforce.

Issues related to skill development in India

  • Poor accreditation process- The Quality Council of India (QCI) has often compromised with the quality of accreditation and affiliation process. For e.g.- It had not followed the prescribed National Council for Vocational Training norms with respect to building infrastructure, equipment, and faculty.
  • Multiplicity of norms, procedures, curricula, certification- Policies and initiatives related to skill development are spread across nearly 20 ministries and hence lacks coherency and holistic approach.
  • Reluctance of the industry in providing a wage differential for skilled workers, leading to low absorption of skilled manpower.
  • Poor Industry interface- For instance, there are too many sector skill councils (industry bodies mandated to ensure that skill development efforts are in accordance with the actual needs of the industry), each trying to maximise their business. Also, there is no of credible assessment board to uphold the accountability of these sector skill councils
  • Lack of integration with formal education and lack of focus on outcomes.

The government initiatives related to skill development

  • A Department of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was created under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in July, 2014 and was subsequently upgraded to full-fledged ministry in November 2014.The role of the Ministry involves coordinating and evolving skill development frameworks, mapping of existing skills and certification, industry-institute linkages among others.
  • Draft National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015: The objective of the Policy is to meet the challenge of skilling at scale with speed, standard (quality) and sustainability. It aims to provide an umbrella framework to all skilling activities being carried out within the country, to align them to common standards and link skilling with demand centres.
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY): This is a flagship outcome-based skill training scheme aimed at benefiting 24 lakh youth. A monetary reward is provided to trainees on assessment and certification. The steering Committee for PMKVY is responsible for providing directions for implementation.

Way Forward

The new National Education Policy (NEP) aims to provide vocational education to 50% of all learners by 2025. Schools are encouraged to provide students access to vocational education from Grade 6 onwards and to offer courses that are aligned to the local economies and can benefit local communities. This will be possible only if the existing skills development systems are leveraged effectively. Hence, for the vision of the NEP to be fulfilled, a robust coordination mechanism for inter-ministerial cooperation is necessary for bringing the skills development and vocational education systems together.

December 2023