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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty : Cause, Effects and Methods to Alleviate it

"Poverty is but the worst form of violence."
Mahatma Gandhi

About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations.

According to Wikitionary Poverty is the quality or state of being poor or indigent; want or scarcity of means of subsistence; indigence; need.It may be defined as is deprivation of common necessities that determine the quality of life, including food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking water, and in broad sense it may also include the deprivation of opportunities to learn, to obtain better employment to escape poverty, and/or to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens.

According to Mollie Orshansky who developed the poverty measurements used by the U.S. government, "to be poor is to be deprived of those goods and services and pleasures which others around us take for granted."

About 1/2 of the human population suffers from poverty. Poverty can be measured in terms of absolute or relative poverty. Absolute poverty refers to a set standard which is consistent over time and between countries. An example of an absolute measurement would be the percentage of the population eating less food than is required to sustain the human body (approximately 2000-2500 calories per day for an adult male). The main poverty line used in the OECD and the European Union is based on "economic distance", a level of income set at 50% of the median household income. The US poverty line is more arbitrary. It was created in 1963-64 and was based on the dollar costs of the United States Department of Agriculture's "economy food plan" multiplied by a factor of three. Planning Commission of India also defines it in terms of daily Calorie intake and varies fro Rural and Urban people.

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than US$ (PPP) 1 per day, and moderate poverty as less than $2 a day, estimating that "in 2001, 1.1 billion people had consumption levels below $1 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than $2 a day."

Relative poverty views poverty as socially defined and dependent on social context. Income inequality is a relative measure of poverty. A relative measurement would be to compare the total wealth of the poorest one-third of the population with the total wealth of richest 1% of the population. There are several different income inequality metrics. One example is the Gini coefficient.

A range of factors which poor people identify as part of poverty includes :

  • precarious livelihoods
  • excluded locations
  • physical limitations
  • gender relationships
  • problems in social relationships
  • lack of security
  • abuse by those in power
  • dis-empowering institutions
  • limited capabilities, and
  • weak community organizations.
Causes of Poverty includes many different factors have been cited to explain why poverty occurs. However, no single explanation has gained universal acceptance.

Some of them includes :
  1. Environmental factors
  2. Economics
  3. Health Care
  4. Governance
  5. Demographics and Social Factors
Effects of Poverty : The effects of poverty may also be causes, as listed above, thus creating a "vicious cycle of poverty" operating across multiple levels, individual, local, national and global.

Methods of reducing Poverty : reduction of poverty required a collective effort from all the stakeholders of society and must be multipronged strategy rather than individual efforts.

We have seen numerous times how government efforts go in vane in absence of required support from other sectors. Economic development must trickle down to the bottom and the benefit of Globalisation must be shared by rich and poor both otherwise the gap will increase and chaos may happen.

Improving the environment and creating a better infrastructure for one and all and not merely in urban areas alone. Better delivery of health services and monetary and other incentives to poor people is the need of the hour. Better management of development programmes and involvement of NGO's is sine-quo-non to reduce the poverty.

NREGA (National Rural Employment Gurantee Act)
legislation enacted on August 25, 2005 by Govt. Of India. The NREGA provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage. This is one great effort by Government and except few impediments its impact is exemplary.

Similary achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 is one such good effort by international community. UNDP works to strengthen the capacity of national partners to achieve the MDGs. For your information the first goal of MDG is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

The condition of poors in the India is very precarious even after 60 years of independence India still has the world's 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 areas.

'STAND UP AGAINT POVERTY : Everyone can make a difference'

A street play and photo exhibition at Dilli Haat, New Delhi on 17th Oct. 2008 from 4 PM to 7 PM

Help end world hunger

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