Forget 2022, more than 110 million Indians would remain poor forever -Richard Mahapatra

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published Published on Oct 29, 2017   modified Modified on Oct 29, 2017
-Down to Earth

The next generation of the current poor Indians has high probability of remaining poor as well. Lack of access to resources like forests and social discrimination have set in the dreaded chronic poverty among India’s socially marginalised groups, ironically the target of poverty eradication programmes since last 70 years

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to eradicate poverty in India by 2022, or in the next five years, is more of a political slogan than an informed prime ministerial promise. It is for sure now that close to 111 million Indians, or a bit more than 41 per cent of current poor population of India, would remain poor forever. The future has more shocks: studies show that poverty is getting transmitted to the next generation. This means a vicious cycle of poverty for close to 10 per cent of India’s population.   

On September 25, during the national executive meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Modi made the promise that India would be poverty-free by 2022. This is one of the main objectives of the much talked about ‘New India’ vision. This ultimately appeared in the resolution of the national executive as well.

But going by seminal research works of the Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), an international association of researchers and academicians, poverty is becoming chronic and hereditary in India, at least for a sizeable population. Chronic poverty is defined as “people, households, and social groups who are poor for sustained and significant or extended periods of their lives and whose families and children may inherit this persistent condition. While chronic poverty is dynamic in that people do climb out of, or fall into poverty in significant numbers, exiting such poverty can prove difficult.”

There are a series of surveys, mostly not discussed or debated in popular forums, which have been pointing out that a significant number of poor in India are not able to escape out of the poverty trap, and most of these chronic poor belong to socially disadvantaged sections like the scheduled castes and tribes. “Studies done on the state of poverty in the 1970s and 1980s pointed out that close to 50 per cent of poor remained poor despite efforts to eradicate poverty. And more than just economic growth leading to eradicate poverty, these sections of people remained poor for various social and ecological reasons,” says  Shashanka Bhide, director at Madras Institute of Development Studies. He has been researching chronic poverty in India.

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Down to Earth, 25 October, 2017,

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