Currently, there are debates going on around raising the minimum hourly wage for the US residents to $15. This will help improve the quality of life in Americans. When looking at a broader picture, however, about 12.7% of the global population had to live at up to $1.90 per day in 2012. While this rate was down from 44% in 1981, the problem of poverty remains. India, with its 1.2 billion people (mid 2015) accounts for over 17% of the global population and adds significantly to the poverty index. When talking about global poverty reduction, it becomes evident that India’s poor should be considered among the first and that is what our sample case study about poverty.
South Asia, along with Sub-Saharan Africa, now accounts for the biggest share of poor people in the world. Together with East Asia and Pacific, these three regions comprise 1.6 billion of poor population (Multidimensional poverty Index, 2015). It means limited access to all kinds of resources, from food and shelter to education and even sanitation. For example, in India, around 50% lack proper accommodation, 35% of the country’s households lack clean water supplies, and 70% of the entire population live in the anti-sanitary conditions. At the same time, there are evident problems with schooling (85% rural locations do not have a school), infrastructure, and child labor.
According to India’s Socioeconomic and Caste Census (SECC), 73% of the country’s people live in rural areas. 95% of the rural population cannot afford paying taxes, and over 90% do not have regular jobs. The poverty problem goes along with low rates of illiteracy, as only 64.3% can read or write. While the worst cases of poverty are mostly observed in villages, the urban poor spend about 4/5 of all income on food.
India’s officials have been trying to solve the poverty problem for a long time. One of the obstacles is that the country’s definition of poor is based on one’s ability to afford a minimum diet requirement of 2,400 (rural population) or 2,100 (urban population) kcal per day. This way, all other people’s needs, except food, remain neglected. Besides, even if the daily critical income level was raised by 100% (up to $2.40), it would be much lower than in developed countries.
There are certain initiatives aimed at poverty reduction in India. Thus, in 2011, the number of the poor was almost 8% down as compared with 2009. Still, except for the targeted aid, too little is done to provide people, especially in rural areas, with the necessary resources, such as, education, sewerage, or proper roads. The policy makers should focus more on the country’s agrarian sector (due to the large percentage of rural population), as it would serve more efficient redistribution of human resources. Access to education is also essential in the context of poverty elimination.
The difference between India’s poor and the poor of the Western countries is vast. While in Europe, the USA, and a number of other developed countries, health care, clean water, basic education, and shelter are accessible even to those who are considered poor, all these things are thought of as a luxury by a large part of Indians.
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