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September 23, 2023 @ 7:30 am - 11:30 pm


PM’s Independence Day Speech 2023

In his independence speech this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned that the poor in India are moving to the “middle-class” category.

This indicates a rising level of prosperity for all. “When the purchasing power of the poor increases, the power of the middle class to carry out business grows too… And our economic cycle is interconnected.”

What is the context of this statement on poverty?

The statement is likely a version of “poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere,” – a part of the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration of Philadelphia from 1944. This was one of the several fundamental principles that were to guide the ILO in its work.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030, of which the first one was called ‘No Poverty’. It said, “Eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.

What the quote means?

The statement simply affirms that poverty reduction itself cannot be a society’s goal, but that poverty should be eradicated as a whole.

How Poverty is linked to Growth?

For a country like India, the subject of poverty has been closely linked to its growth as a nation. At the time of independence, as most Indians lacked basic facilities for access to health and education, a majority of the population had low productivity and was in the throes of extreme poverty.

With advancements across all sectors since then, as the economy and public sector developed, various indicators have shown that millions have been lifted out of poverty.

However, even as the kind of severe poverty that existed earlier for most people has been falling through the decades, there has been a realization that poverty cannot just be about not earning a certain sum in a day.

The Multidimension angle of Poverty

Traditionally, measuring poverty was restricted to government-mandated cut-offs on daily wages earned by a person or the calories consumed by them. But poverty is now understood as being multidimensional, affecting life in a variety of ways.

For example, a recent NITI Aayog report titled ‘National Multidimensional Poverty Index: A Progress Review 2023’ noted that one in seven Indians is “multidimensionally poor”.

They might lack access to the right nutrition, sanitation, housing, and so on, and a comprehensive analysis across multiple indicators is important to assess whether they are benefitting from not simply being above the poverty line for a good quality of life.

The Changing fundamentals of Poverty in Contemporary times

Also, over time, the fundamentals required to live a good life might change. Today, access to the internet is one such essential, and having it can influence the ability to access knowledge, education, public services and so on.

And why should poverty eradication matter to the non-poor?

There are many moral and ethical arguments to be made for the general population to care about those who are not as well-off as them.

The most basic one relates to the treatment of all human lives as equal, recognising their need to self-actualise and meet their potential. Poverty inhibits this potential.

There is then a utilitarian argument to be made (meaning where the focus is on maximising the general happiness of a society). A country where more people are well-off, healthy and actively participating in society means a general rise in living standards, ushering in prosperity.

The Economic Angle of Poverty

Then there is an economic argument, as the PM alluded to. When more people are healthy and educated, the share of the population that is a part of the workforce will improve.

They would earn more, demand more goods and services and stimulate economic growth through consumption, investments and savings. This would be of importance to the businesses, the shopkeepers and the private sector in general.

Further, poverty is also often at the centre of political instability and attempts to defy the existing administrative systems in place.

Even in a prosperous society, if a few groups see a divide in how others are well-off while they are not, it could compel them to defy authority for what they see as attempts to cement their safety amid vulnerability. In a real sense then, poverty is a threat to prosperity and a country’s social fabric.

Initiatives of India in Poverty Reduction

  1. National Food for Work Programme.
  2. Swaranjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY)
  3. Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY)
  4. Rural Housing – Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY)
  5. Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana (PMGY)
  6. Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP)
  7. Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY)
  8. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
  9. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA)
  10. Antyodaya Anna Yojana
  11. Swaranjayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana
  12. Integrated Waste Land Development Program



September 23, 2023
7:30 am - 11:30 pm
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