- Intro – stating facts on India’s poverty decline.
- Brief reference of government schemes reducing poverty.
- Delineate the factors in declining rural poverty.
A World Bank report has pointed that extreme poverty in India has halved b/w 2011 – 2019, from 22.5% to 10.2%. The reduction was higher in rural areas from 26.3% to 11.6%. The rate of poverty decline b/w 2015 – 2019 was faster compared to 2011 – 2015.
This reduced poverty is significantly due to government’s thrust on improving living standards through schemes like Ujjwala Yojana, PM Awas Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission, Jan Dhan, in addition to Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-NRLM and improved coverage under NFSA.
The key factors contributing to reduction in rural poverty:
- Identification of deprived households by Socio-Economic Caste Census data 2011, has helped in creating policies for well-being of poor, irrespective of social barriers. Since deprivation is the key criterion in identifying beneficiaries, SC & ST communities got higher coverage and larger share of benefits in the erstwhile backward regions. It included Gram Sabha validation to ensure that the project reached the targeted groups. This has ensured a balanced development.
- Coverage of women under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana and SHGs increased from 2.5 crore (2014) to over 8 crore (2018). This resulted due to 75 lakh SHGs’ close cooperation with over 31 lakh elected panchayat representatives, 40% of whom are women. The PRI-SHG partnership created a social capital and catalysed changes to reduce poverty.
- The social capital of SHGs ensured availability of institutional credit. The NRLM prioritized livelihood diversification & implemented detailed plans for credit disbursement.
- Finance Commission transfers were made directly to gram panchayats creating basic infrastructures like pucca village roads & drains at a faster pace. The high speed of road construction under PM Gram Sadak Yojana has created opportunities for employment in nearby areas through enhanced connectivity & mobility.
- In the two phases of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, benefits like gas & electricity connections, LED bulbs, life insurance, immunization were provided to over 6000 villages having high SC-ST population.
- Thrust on universal coverage for individual household latrines, LPG connections and pucca houses ensured ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’.
- High amount of public funds were transferred to rural areas through extra-budgetary resources.
- Thrust on people’s campaign “Sabka Yojana Sabka Vikas” for preparing Gram Panchayat Development Plans & ranking villages on human development, economic activity and infrastructure parameters along with robust community participation have strengthened accountability.
- Competition among states (Competitive federalism) to improve performance on rural development has improved livelihood diversification, besides improving infrastructure
All these factors have contributed to improved ease of living of deprived households and enhanced asset base. Much has been achieved, yet much more remains to be done. The pandemic induced economic recession and global shocks from geopolitical events, pose challenges to the gains made in poverty reduction, for which the government must remain ever vigilant.