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The Current State of Poverty in India

State of Poverty in India
As India is on track to become the most populated country in the world by the end of the year, many eyes are on the South Asian country in regard to its progress in eliminating poverty. Despite having suffered from chronic poverty for much of its modern history, India has made much progress in raising its poorest over the past few decades. Though factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic have complicated things, India continues to make great strides in its bid to eliminate poverty within its borders.

This Century’s Progress

In the past few decades specifically, the fight against poverty in India has come a long way. Since 2005, an estimated 415 million people have risen out of poverty in India – an impressive feat, considering that the country has a total population of 1.4 billion today. It has a diverse economy, which includes industries such as agriculture and handicrafts. Thanks to a well-educated population of English speakers, India has gained a global foothold in massive modern sectors such as information technology services and software workers. This increase in economic prosperity has given many of India’s poorest opportunities to rise out of poverty.

Old and New Challenges

Despite this amazing progress over the past 20 years, several hurdles remain in the fight against poverty in India. There are 229 million Indians who still live in poverty, which is the largest number of poor people in a single country anywhere in the world. In addition to this, the urban-rural divide of poverty remains very pronounced; as many as 21.2% of India’s rural-living citizens live in poverty, which contrasts with the much smaller 5.5% of impoverished urban dwellers. To put it into perspective, 205 million of India’s 229 million impoverished citizens live in rural areas, according to Mint. When developing strategies to fight poverty in any location, considering the rural-urban divide is a must.

Though India’s economy has remained steadily robust, COVID-19 had a strong impact on the country – particularly on those living in poverty. The pandemic caused India’s economy to contract by a hefty 6.6% in the fiscal year 2020-21. Particularly, COVID-19 hit hard the informal sector which employs 90% of Indians. The dampening effect on India’s economy has made a significant impact on the country’s most poor and vulnerable households especially.

Looking Forward

Thankfully, even with the challenges that COVID-19 and chronic economic equality still pose today, the fight against poverty in India continues its upward momentum. Much of this is thanks to its economic growth; in 2022, it overtook the U.K. to become the fifth-largest economy in the world. According to other reports, it could also overtake Germany and Japan by 2029 to become the third-largest economy in the world. As the country’s economy continues to grow and stabilize, more opportunities will arise for its poorest residents to climb the economic ladder and rise out of poverty.

Despite many challenges, both institutional and from outside forces, poverty in India has been decreasing at a steady rate, thanks to the country’s booming economy and a continued global awareness of the need to end poverty. As it stands, the current state of poverty in India shows several more hurdles remain in ending its impoverishment, but the horizon looks hopeful for India’s poorest.

– Elijah Beglyakov
Photo: Flickr