Home » Political-Corner  » Is Poverty in India Politically Motivated?

Is Poverty in India Politically Motivated?

Posted by Admin on April 23, 2014 | Comment

Flagging concern for the poor is one thing and working towards their upliftment is completely another. There’s a major chasm in India when it comes to preaching and practicing pro-poor agenda. Poverty has a direct impact on the economic and social indicators of a country, but unfortunately it hasn’t been able to receive consistent attention of the political parties.  A very recent example is the controversial benchmarking of poor by the UPA government.

Is Poverty in India Politically Motivated

The Planning Commission might claim a drastic decline in the percentage of poverty, but the issue has kicked up several stormy debates among the economists. The UPA government faced the public ire after it fixed the poverty line rate at just Rs. 33. That reflected how government perceives the poor and how distant they are from actually understanding the ground reality.

Reasons Why Poverty Still Exists in India

Both rural and urban poverty remains ubiquitous even after more than six decades of gaining independence from foreign yoke. Political leaders are held accountable for the country-wide misery existing in the form of poverty. According to the analysts, political parties find it convenient to exclude huge chunk of the population from the poverty census. Minority ethnic communities, tribal groups and the Dalits are often not included in the list of beneficiaries. This overt marginalization of poor is a by-product of deliberate ploy to keep burden at bay.

It has often been observed that communal tensions and strife between two regional parties disrupt the process of allowing concessions and solving poverty-related problems. In most cases, rural reforms are either stalled for indefinite period of time. Even if the measures are implemented, they are mostly half-measures and confined to short-term solutions that don’t do much good to India’s poverty reduction goals.

Results of Anti-Poverty Programmes: Success and Failure

Eliminating poverty is a pledge that almost every political entity takes during the election campaigns. Yet, they are the ones who are found exploiting poverty instead of implementing effective measures to tackle it. There has been spurt in poverty alleviation programmes in the late 60s and even today, we come across such programmes claiming to remove landlessness and joblessness in India. Be it the rural housing programmes, self-employment schemes or food subsidy bill, the initiatives suffer from delayed implementation. Some of the obvious reasons behind a marginal success of these welfare schemes are unrealistic policy-making, faulty implementation mechanism and rampant corruption.

Political parties talk about deploying more resources for the poor and ride high on populism just before the elections. However, they fail to stay true to their commitment in the long run, thus severely affecting the effectiveness of the schemes. Lack of a holistic vision leads to abject neglect of other facets of poverty. That’s exactly where political parties in India are going wrong.

There’s also a serious contradiction in what politicians claim and what action plan they devise. Take a look at the Food Security Bill for instance. While the government body claims that India’s poverty figure stands at 270 million people (as of 2011-12), the UPA government announced its intention of subsidizing food for 800 million people under food security scheme.

Is There a Lack of Interest Among Political Parties to Tackle Poverty?

Politicians need to gain insight into all aspects of poverty and not just blindly follow the statistics. They don’t seem keen on adopting a deep-dive approach and understanding for themselves that real wages are going down sharply in recent years and purchasing power of wage earners is on decline. The ruling parties tend to evade when questions such as creation of sustainable employment opportunities and reducing inflation crop up.

Exploitation of the vulnerable section of the society is almost a norm for the majority of political players and that leads to unwanted resisted in reforms. Moreover, corruption is all pervading. It is there at a district level, at a state level and a national level.  That doesn’t allow the welfare schemes to be more expansive and penetrating to the last layer of the poor. 

References: Poverty.org and media reports