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Poverty in India: Facts, Causes, Effects and Solutions

14 Mar 2019

Poverty is defined as the state of being poor and not having access to adequate necessities. Poverty is a multifaceted concept, which also includes social, economic, and political elements. It is a social condition wherein human beings do not have enough financial means to meet the most basic standards of life that is acceptable by the society. Individuals suffering from poverty do not have the means to pay for basic needs of daily life such as food, clothes and shelter. Those who suffer from poverty also do not have access to social tools of well-being such as education and health requirements. The direct effects of poverty are hunger, malnutrition and susceptibility to diseases. These have been identified as huge problems across the world. It affects the individuals in a socio-psychological manner. This condition disables them from being able to afford simple recreational activities and getting progressively marginalized in the society. There can be various different causes of poverty. These may be categorized as follows:

1. Demographic – One of the biggest reasons of poverty in India is over population. India is a highly populated country. The growth of population in India is way beyond the growth in economy and the gross result is such that the poverty figures have remained more or less constant. As far as the rural areas are concerned, the basic size of the family is bigger which eventually leads to lowering the per capita income values and consequently lowering of standard of living of an individual.

2. Economic – There are many economic reasons behind poverty. These are:

a. Poor Agricultural Infrastructure – Agriculture is the backbone of the economy in India. India is an agricultural country. The only area where India lacks is the agricultural infrastructure such as outdated and old farming practices; obsolete technology and lack of formal agricultural education amongst the farmers. The income is too less for a farmer to meet the economic needs of his/ her family.

b. Unequal distribution of assets – The Upper and middle income groups in India see a faster increase in earnings as compared to the lower income groups. The scenario in India is such that 80% wealth in the country is controlled by just 20% of the population.

c. Unemployment – Unemployment is one factor that hugely increases and multiplies the effect of poverty by 10 times. Almost, 77% of families do not have a regular source of income in India.

3. Social – The various social issues that contribute largely to poverty are:

a. Education and illiteracy – Lack of education and growing illiteracy is majorly responsible for poverty in India. Due to the increase in the illiteracy rates, unemployment rises and resultantly poverty rates increase.

b. Outdated Social Customs – Social customs like caste system cause segregation and marginalization of certain sections of the society also play a major role in spreading poverty. 

c. Gender inequality– India is a country where till today there is discrimination on the basis of gender. The weak status attached with women is hugely responsible for the poor condition of women.

d. Corruption – Although the government promises to make considerable efforts every now and then in order to make India corruption free but the reality is very different. Corruption is deep rooted in India. It is immensely difficult to make India corruption free. Due to the rise in the rates of corruption every hour, poverty is increasing simultaneously.

4. Individual – Individual lack of efforts also become a huge reason behind increase in the poverty rates. There are people who are lazy and do not wish to work hard. Such people suffer from poverty due to lack of personal efforts.

Effects of Poverty: Poverty is like a disease that has devastating effects on an individual and his family. The major effects are as follows:

1. Effect on Health – The biggest effect of poverty is poor health. Those who suffer from poverty do not have access to enough food, adequate clothing, medical facilities, and clean surroundings. The lack of all these basic facilities leads to poor health. Such individuals and their families suffer from malnutrition. Further, when these people get ill, they do not have enough money to visit a doctor and buy medicines. Many such poor people die on a daily basis due to prolonged illness etc. Further, these people are unable to afford a clean house for themselves, which also makes them prone to diseases.

2. Effects on Society – The effects of poverty on society are as follows:

a. Violence and crime rate –Occurrence of violence and crime have been found to be geographically coincident. Due to unemployment and marginalization, the poor people often indulge in wrong practices such as prostitution, theft and criminal activities such as chain snatching etc. 

b. Homelessness – Poor people are usually homeless. They sleep on the road sides at night. These makes the entire scenario vey unsafe for women and children. 

c. Stress – Due to lack of money, poor people suffer from a lot of stress which leads to a reduction in the productivity of individuals, thereby making poor people poorer.

d. Child labour – Poverty forces poor people to send their children to work instead of sending them to schools. This is because the families fail to bear the burden of their child/ children. Among the poor families, children start earning at an average age of 5 years only.

e. Terrorism – Youngsters from poor families are usually targeted and involved in terrorist activities. These people are offered huge amount of money in lieu of which they are assigned with a destructive task of terrorism.

3. Effect on Economy –Poverty is a directly proportional to the success of the economy. The number of people living under the poverty is reflective of how powerful is the economy.


The measures that should be taken in order to fight the demon of poverty in India are follows:

1. A check should be maintained on the population rate in India.

2. The employment opportunities must be increased by inviting more foreign investments into the country.

3. A check should be maintained upon the gap that remains in the distribution of wealth.

4. Few Indian states are more poverty stricken than the others like Odisha and the North Eastern states. Government should work in order to encourage investment in these states by offering special concessions on taxes.

5. Primary needs of people such as food, shelter and clothing should be taken care of by the government especially for those who are unable to afford these facilities.

By: Anuja Arora

Posted By - Assistant Editor