Even more than 50 years after independence
from almost two centuries of British rule, large scale poverty remains the most shameful
blot on the face of India.
India still has the worlds largest
number of poor people in a single country. Of its nearly 1 billion inhabitants, an
estimated 350-400 million are below the poverty line, 75 per cent of them in the rural
More than 40 per cent of the population is
illiterate, with women, tribal and scheduled castes
It would be incorrect to say that all poverty
reduction programmes have failed. The growth of the middle class (which was virtually
non-existent when India became a free nation in August 1947) indicates that economic
prosperity has indeed been very impressive in India, but the DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH has
been very uneven.
The main causes of poverty are illiteracy, a
population growth rate by far exceeding the economic growth rate for the better part of
the past 50 years, protectionist policies pursued since 1947 to 1991 which prevented large
amounts of foreign investment in the country.
Poverty alleviation is expected to make better
progress in the next 50 years than in the past, as a trickle-down effect of the growing
middle class. Increasing stress on education, reservation of seats in government jobs and
the increasing empowerment of women and the economically weaker sections of society, are
also expected to contribute to the alleviation of poverty.
Eradication of poverty can only be a very
long-term goal in India.