Child Begging in IndiaIn India, child begging is a pressing issue that frequently occurs at busy intersections, where young children solicit money from passing vehicles. Despite being illegal, this practice persists, depriving children of their right to education and a happy childhood, effectively subjecting them to modern-day forms of exploitation. This unfortunate situation is most prevalent in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, where children often operate in groups and are coerced into begging by their parents or human traffickers for financial gain.

The Borgen Project recently interviewed Bandhana, a woman dedicated to aiding these children on a grassroots level by providing them with access to quality education and encouraging school attendance. She highlighted several underlying factors contributing to the issue of child begging, which are discussed below.


Between 2015 and 2021, approximately 415 million individuals lifted themselves out of poverty, resulting in a decrease in the poverty rate from 55% to 16% over the past decade. However, due to the large population of the country, poverty remains a significant issue in impoverished households. Oftentimes, young children are compelled to contribute to their household’s finances by earning money through begging, because of their parents’ poverty. Unfortunately, in many cases, these children are subjected to abuse to appear more pitiful and thus earn more money by emotionally manipulating individuals.

Lack of Education

The poor quality of education is causing children to resort to begging, abuse and harassment. Discrimination in classrooms, caste systems and lack of resources are forcing children to take to the streets to beg for money. To address this issue, life skills should be included in the curriculum to equip children with practical skills for their daily lives. Bandhana notes that in some schools, there are no qualified teachers to teach students, leading to a lack of motivation to attend school. Additionally, the pandemic has affected education as government schools have not been able to provide online education due to a lack of resources.

Child Abduction

Children are kidnapped from their hometowns and sold in the big cities to beg on the roads. According to the Human Rights Commission of India, 40,000 children are abducted every year of which 25% remain untraced. They are brutally tortured and abused and sometimes their limbs are cut so that they can get more sympathy from the people and earn more money. The children are sold for some thousands and their families never know about their kids. Sometimes the children run away from their dealers and get united with their families with the help of the police but most of the time, they have to spend their whole life in those horrific circumstances.


India has multiple borders with countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, which often leads to illegal immigration. Many migrants, due to unemployment and poverty, force their children to beg on the streets for extra financial support. In 2015, approximately 15,000 Bangladeshis were granted Indian citizenship because they were living within Indian territories. The majority of migrants cross the border in search of better livelihoods, employment and quality of life, but their dreams are shattered when they are forced to beg for money and live in poverty.

Various begging techniques are enforced by the traffickers on the children like selling flowers, following the people on the roads and many more. The children get injured while begging on busy roads. Bandhana stated that she noticed some children giving wishes to the couples and then forcefully asking for money. Sometimes they come in groups and force people to give them money. People try to offer some food, but they decline and want only money so they can pay their traffickers.

Ongoing Efforts

Each state has anti-begging laws in place to protect children’s human rights. According to the Indian Penal Code of 1860, any form of child exploitation is a criminal offense. Section 363A specifically prohibits kidnapping and abduction of children. Additionally, each state in the country has its own set of acts and codes to prevent child begging. 

The Railway Children organization is dedicated to improving the lives of street children in various states such as Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. They have established 24-hour helplines at railway stations to assist children who are alone and in need of help. Additionally, they offer short- and long-term accommodations where children can receive educational and medical support. They have protected 20,337 children from dangers, 20,082 have been reunited with their families and 140 children have been provided long-term care homes. 

Looking Ahead

To address the serious problem of child begging, there is a need for the government to work in conjunction with the police force to prevent the exploitation of young children. With the support and awareness of the community, these children can have access to a better quality of life and education, enabling them to have better access to opportunities in the future.

– Gurjot Kaur
Photo: Flickr

Flooding in IndiaIn July of 2023, northern India experienced torrential rainfall from monsoons. As a result of the unprecedented amount of rain, at least 100 people have died from landslides and flash floods. While South Asia typically experiences monsoon rains from June to September, climate change has made flooding in India and other weather events more extreme and erratic.

As a testament to the increasing severity of the monsoon rains, flooding from the Yamuna River reached the walls of the Taj Mahal. As the Yamuna reached its highest level on record at 684 feet, other sectors of Indian life were affected as well.

The Jamuna River, which runs through the capital of New Delhi, rose 681.5 feet, forcing schools to close, making residents evacuate and submerging cars and homes.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) classifies India as one of the nations most affected by climate change, and the flooding in India is only expected to worsen. Northern India received a month’s worth of rainfall in a single day, leading to 30,000 residents being moved to relief camps, 600 homes damaged and 300 people stranded.

How Impoverished Indians are Affected

The flooding in India affects poor populations the most. As homes are destroyed, individuals are displaced from their neighborhoods and forced to move. In fact, it is projected that 45 million Indians will be forced to migrate by the year 2050 as a result of climate-related disasters. 

The destruction of homelands is not the only factor contributing to India’s climate refugee crisis. Although monsoon rains were traditionally necessary for successful crop yields, the damage of extreme climate events outweighs the benefits. 

Individuals are forced deeper into poverty from flooding in India. Small farmers depending on agriculture to make a living can no longer cope with damage caused by severe weather. Since floods damage crops, roads, homes and land, workers cannot travel to their jobs or grow and transport their crops. In fact, the International Institute for Environment and Development found that 70% of households migrated after extreme weather disasters. To escape poverty, India’s most vulnerable populations abandon their livelihoods in hopes of finding jobs elsewhere. 

Khalsa Aid International

Luckily, organizations such as Khalsa Aid are committed to mitigating the effects of extreme flooding in India. Khalsa Aid is an international non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian aid in disaster areas. The organization has been relying on the help of volunteers and donors since 1999 to help vulnerable populations dealing with issues like famine, water scarcity, civil war and more.

As a response to the July 2023 floods, Khalsa Aid coordinated emergency relief efforts in the Punjab region of northern India. Teams on the ground operated in Ropar, Morinda, Rajpura and other cities to provide food and shelter to people stranded in their villages by the flooding.

Looking Ahead

So far, Khalsa Aid U.S.A. has already donated $250,000 to clean-up and rebuilding efforts after the flooding in India. Although flooding and extreme weather events are expected to continue, the work of Khalsa Aid is a reminder that vulnerable populations throughout India and the world will be supported by those who care.

– Meilyn Farina
Photo: Unsplash

Electric Tractors in IndiaIn April of this year, India officially overtook China as the most populous country in the world when its population reached a whopping 1.426 billion people. Almost 75% of that population depends on the agriculture sector as a means of income, although said sector only makes up 15% of India’s economy, due to the growth of other industries. Though they make up a majority of the country, a significant portion of Indian farmers are poor, with 20% living under the poverty line in 2019. As a result of the considerable number of agricultural workers living within its borders, India is home to the largest tractor market in the world.

Fossil fuels power most of the machinery that the domestic tractor industry has manufactured, and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) estimates that diesel-powered tractors in India consume almost 8% of all the country’s fuel per year, close to the amount of all of its buses. In recent years, however, India’s tractor industry has imported and produced electric tractors, with Sonalika manufacturing the country’s first electric tractor in 2020. Introducing electric tractors in India on a widespread scale would offer several benefits to some of the country’s most impoverished residents.

Health Benefits Over Diesel

The primary benefit that electric tractors offer Indian farmers over diesel-powered tractors is their ability to help mitigate the issue of air pollution. Though the focus is often on cities when talking of poor air quality in India, air pollution in many rural areas of India is practically as high as levels in urban regions. The 2022 State of Global Air Report revealed that 1.6 million people in India died due to air pollution in 2019. What’s more, research shows that premature death due to air pollution alone is three times as common in rural areas compared to urban areas. 

Expanding the use of electric tractors in India would help address this disparity as they are emission-free. Non-electric tractors, on the other hand, contribute to air pollution, and the ICCT approximates that diesel-powered tractors in India released “about 25 kilotonnes of particulate matter and almost 300 kilotonnes of nitrogen oxides as of 2020”. Electric tractors would lower the amount of pollution that rural Indians endure, making the air cleaner, safer and preventing deaths.

Another health benefit of electric tractors is that they are significantly quieter than non-electric tractors. Many tractors that run on fossil fuels have loud engines that can reach 100 decibels, a level that is capable of causing hearing damage after 15 minutes of exposure. Electric tractors, on the other hand, do not depend on an engine for power and therefore can operate at volumes that are much safer for farmers’ ears. Electric tractors would protect Indian farmers’ hearing and prevent them from needing hearing aids in the future or from being unable to afford any medical devices and instead being forced to take on the risks of working with hearing loss. 

Financial Considerations

Although it’s true that the current price of electric tractors in India can often be twice that of diesel-powered machinery, which can be a barrier to the adoption of electric farm equipment, the ICCT calculates that the 10-year cost of owning and using an electric tractor is almost the same price as a traditional tractor. The reason for this is that electric tractors are 90% efficient in converting thermal energy to mechanical energy, whereas diesel-powered tractors are less than 30% efficient in completing the same task. Farmers who own electric tractors, then, can get more bang for their buck when it comes to powering and using their machinery, and end up spending less on energy in the long run.

Electric tractors also require less maintenance because they do not rely on an engine to run, meaning fewer parts could become damaged and require repair or replacement. This feature would allow farmers to save money and give them peace of mind regarding the durability of their electric equipment. 

Regarding the financial downsides of non-electric tractors, diesel fuel is subject to frequent price fluctuations and is affected by geopolitical events like the ongoing Ukraine war. Electric tractors do not suffer from this risk of volatility in terms of the price of charging up machinery, and therefore provide farmers with a greater amount of financial security. 

Looking Ahead

While there are currently no up-front incentives offered to buyers of electric tractors in India, the good news is that India’s government currently has several policies in place for electric on-road vehicles that it could easily extend to electric tractors. One of these policies is the FAME II scheme that, if applied to all zero-emission equipment in India, would provide subsidies that would lower the price of electric tractors to near, or even below, that of diesel machinery. The Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), India’s association of electric vehicle manufacturers, has already called on the Indian government to extend subsidies to electric off-road equipment in their Union Budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

While India’s national and individual state governments have implemented measures to fight air pollution, talks of lowering emissions have often overlooked rural areas. As electric tractors in India become adopted more and more, the nation’s farmers and other rural residents will finally be able to rest — and breathe — easy knowing they are reaping most of the benefits.

– Sofia Oliver
Photo: Unsplash

Health Care in IndiaAround 10% of India’s 1.4 billion population live below the World Bank’s median poverty line of $2.15 a day. Six out of 10 Indians survive on less than $3.20 a day, making it difficult for many to afford health care in India. Oxfam’s 2023 report highlights that the richest 10% own over 72% of the country’s wealth, while the top 1% holds around 40.6%. This economic disparity affects vulnerable households, impacting their access to basic necessities like health care. To understand the country’s health system better, here are five key points about health care in India.

  1. India Has a Huge Role in Producing Generic Medicines: India is one of the largest manufacturers of antibiotics, producing around 20% of all generic medicines worldwide in 2022. The country houses more than 3,000 pharmaceutical companies and is a crucial supplier of drugs worldwide, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country alone is mostly responsible for meeting Africa’s drug demand. Even higher-income countries like the U.S. and the U.K. depend on India for 40% and 25% of their generic drugs, respectively. Despite India’s contributions to medicine production, its vast population of 1.4 billion continues to face health challenges.
  2. Expensive Health Care Impoverishes Many Indians: According to The Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, costly health services impoverish 55 million Indians every year and 17% of households have no choice besides spending substantial portions of their income on health annually. In spite of the constant battle for adequate health care in India, the country faces barriers that include physical access and affordability of health care as well as diagnostic concerns. Underfunding from the government has led to disproportionate levels of health care in India between states, with very few states having sufficient facilities for diagnosing and treating individuals. Despite the private sector having up-to-date facilities, costly services for essential trips mean that such private services are out of reach for many Indians.
  3. Many Indians Value Traditional Medicines: In India, many see the Ayurveda (science of life) system and herbal medicines as a cheaper alternative to conventional medicines. Ayurveda has been practiced in India for around 3,000 years and deals with symptoms, diagnosis and treatment based on mental, physical and spiritual health. In practice, this health system uses herbal medicines, meditation and breathing exercises to treat individuals with health concerns.  For example, the Ayurveda system has been endorsed by organizations such as Cancer Research U.K. (CRUK) to help relieve cancer symptoms in patients.
  4. Malaria Is a Major Public Health Concern: According to WHO, the South-East Asia region was responsible for 2% of malaria cases globally; India was responsible for 79% of cases and therefore remains the country with the highest malaria burden. Roughly 83% of deaths in the South-East Asia region were from India in 2021. Despite this, the World Malaria Report has highlighted the decline of malaria cases by 49% and mortalities associated with the disease being 51% compared to 2017.
  5. Health Care in India Is Improving: According to WHO, India’s health sector has shown significant improvements, with life expectancy at birth increasing to around 70 years in 2020 from 50 years in 1970. In 2023, the government of India aims to enhance its health sector with World Bank financing worth $500 million to support India’s flagship program Pradhan Mantri-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM), launched in October 2021, to improve the public health care infrastructure in India. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the need for urgent care systems; this project aims to enhance health service delivery and pandemic preparedness across India.

Looking Ahead

Overall, the flagship program to improve infrastructure across health care in India demonstrates the country’s response to COVID-19 and efforts to protect the well-being of future generations. There is hope that the health sector will continue to improve if the government maintains its effort toward reforming the public sector.

– Rupinder Kaur
Photo: Wikimedia

primary education in IndiaIt is well known that India is a country where a high percentage of the population lives in poverty, and this factor influences different areas of human development. Particularly, the quality of teaching and access to primary education has suffered, both of which are fundamental for the country’s economic and social development. However, India has made significant progress in this area in recent times, giving more children an opportunity for a brighter future.

Advancing Primary Education in India

Education is a fundamental right for children, and according to UNICEF, the period between 0 and 8 years represents the period of greatest development. In terms of education access and quality, India has made significant progress in recent years. According to enrollment data, it is estimated that eight out of 10 children aged 3 to 6 years are in an Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) program, with the state of Karnataka having the highest percentage (86.6%). This is mainly due to the implementation of laws made by the Indian government to strengthen the education system. These laws are the National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy (ECCE) (2013) and the Children’s Rights to Free and Education Obligation (RTE) (2009), which entered into law on April 1, 2010.

Among the strategies used to improve the primary education system is the participation of UNICEF in India. This project aims to achieve three main areas of focus in educational development in the country. First, improving early childhood education by increasing enrollments. Second, a reduction in out-of-school children in nine high-concentration states. Finally, building on teaching and education quality by improving learning environments in selected states. In view of this, UNICEF’s work is centered on strengthening early childhood education systems, in order to achieve inclusive and equitable development for all children aged 3 to 6 years, as well as SDG 4, Goal 4.2.

Primary Education in India as a Basic Right

Taking into account the laws and policies on early childhood education made by the government and strengthened by UNICEF, the right to education is being recognized and prioritized. In addition, this advancement is influencing other areas of children’s rights, such as gender equality, protection and care and access to information. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) on November 20, 1989 and enforced in September 1990, articles 28 and 29 (access to education and education) affirm and declare that every child has the right to education, primary education should be free and that access to education should teach them to understand their own rights and to respect other people’s rights, cultures and differences. 

It is not only UNICEF but also other organizations in India that work and defend to promote these rights, such as Humanium and Smile Foundation India.

Looking Forward

India is currently the most populous country in the world (with around 1.425 billion people) and this contributes significantly to global human development. Indeed, India is home to almost one-sixth of the world’s population and children make up 25.69% of society. Investments in primary education in India help prevent child marriage, reduce poverty and improve the well-being of families and communities across the country. 

– Letícia L. Lacerda
Photo: Flickr

Being Poor in IndiaThe economy of India is one of the fastest growing in the world yet the country experiences severe inequality as the wealthiest 10% in India own 77% of the wealth in the country while poverty is common for a significant portion of the population. For people who experience being poor in India, access to basic services is a struggle and meeting basic needs is difficult as many do not earn a decent income. The Government of India has not released official poverty estimates since 2011 but several other indicators show the extent of poverty in India.

Causes of Poverty in India

Poverty in India is a multi-dimensional issue. According to a study by the West Bengal State University (WBSU) in 2018, some of the main reasons for poverty in India are overpopulation,  unemployment, “poor agricultural infrastructure,” illiteracy and lack of quality education, lack of skilled labor, “unequal distribution of assets,” gender inequality and corruption.

According to the WBSU, the population in India has outgrown the growing economy, which means the nation cannot economically keep up with the growing number of people. Poor agricultural infrastructure also adds to the high number of people being poor in India according to the WBSU. Due to old and outdated farming practices, the agricultural sector of India is at a deficit.

Lack of quality education and illiteracy also plague the poor in India and only exacerbate the issue. Due to poverty, disadvantaged families prioritize earning an income over child education and push children into child labor instead of enrolling them in school. This lack of education traps children in lower-paying, unskilled jobs, thereby continuing the cycle of poverty.

The lack of skilled labor in India also adds to the issue of poverty in the nation. While there is a large labor force in India ready to work, most workers are unskilled. This prevents India from reaching its full economic potential and putting more people to work in skilled sectors.

Corruption also stands as a barrier to poverty reduction. The WBSU stated in its report that the government attempts to alleviate poverty through government spending, but “allegedly only 30-35% actually reaches the beneficiaries” as a result of the corruption sweeping the nation.

Clean Water Access in India

Being poor in India takes shape in many ways, such as a lack of access to clean water. With 128 million people in India in need of clean water, the World Bank estimates that 21% of communicable diseases in India stem from unclean water.

Impoverished families, typically in remote areas, often travel hours to collect water for their families instead of engaging in more productive activities such as education and income-generating endeavors. This water is often unsafe and contains bacteria that can lead to fatal water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Water-borne diseases force a household to spend their limited finances on health care, which plunges the family deeper into poverty.

Hunger and Malnutrition in India

In the 2022 Global Hunger Index, India places 107th out of the 121 nations that were assessed. India has a score of 29.1, and this equates to a serious level of hunger. Poverty also manifests itself as malnutrition. The nation is home to the highest population of malnourished people in the world — 14.37% of the population or 194.4 million people, according to Feeding India. India is also home to about a third of the world’s malnourished children.

The government of India’s National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS 5) indicates that about 36% of children under the age of 5 in India experience stunting due to malnourishment. Stunting has significant long-term impacts on individuals and countries as a whole, including impaired cognitive ability and educational performance, low wages, weak immunity and lost productivity.

Taking Action

A government relief program called the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana aimed to help impoverished people in India. The program began in March 2020 to respond to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the benefits included 800 million poor people receiving five kilograms of wheat or rice and a kilogram of pulses a month for three months. Additionally, 30 million low-income senior citizens, widows and disabled people received 1,000 Indian rupees.

Working in India for 50 years, Save the Children is committed to safeguarding the rights of children in India. The organization’s work in India is responsible for nourishing 85,000 children, lifting 86,000 children out of poverty and educating 210,000 children.

Looking Ahead

With immense poverty and living conditions that prove challenging, India is in need of significant support to spur lasting change. Organizations, like Save the Children, are working tirelessly to ensure that children have access to education, nutrition and a brighter future. Through these collective efforts, there is hope for a more equitable and prosperous India.

– David Keenan
Photo: Unsplash

Generational PovertyIn countries experiencing generational poverty, children from low-income families often have fewer opportunities than those from more advantaged backgrounds. The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) reports that poor parents have limited resources to invest in their children. For this reason, the affected children face challenges like poor mental stimulation and education. Additionally, living in poverty can negatively affect parenting.

The NCCP studied this lasting impact on children by examining the social and economic status of several families. The study revealed that individuals who grow up in poverty tend to remain poor in early adulthood. Breaking this cycle is nearly impossible without proper resources and education, and families in low-income countries continue to suffer the impacts of this issue. The following are three such countries suffering from generational poverty.

3 Countries Suffering From Generational Poverty

  1. India: According to a 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF) report on global social mobility, Indians born into low-income families suffer from generational poverty. According to the report, it would take seven generations for an Indian raised in poverty to reach India’s mean income. The report defines social mobility as a person’s “movement” upwards or downwards relative to their parents. It found that countries with high social mobility scores have lower income inequality, while countries suffering from generational poverty have a higher variability in income. In response to the issue of generational poverty, India established the Integrated Rural Development Program in 1978. The program’s goal is to provide opportunities for people living in poverty to learn and practice skills to improve their living conditions while increasing small-scale agricultural production. The government allocates a 25% subsidy to small farmers and 33.5% to rural craftsmen, farmers, and agricultural laborers. The remaining 50% goes toward castes and people with disabilities.
  2. South Africa: South Africa is another country suffering from generational poverty. According to the World Inequity Lab’s research, the social structure catering to white people for nearly three centuries has made South Africa “the world’s most unequal society.” Black South Africans, who faced restricted access to resources and opportunities during the apartheid era, suffered negative impacts that lasted through generations. Today, the richest 10% of South Africans own over 85% of household wealth, leaving only 15% for the remaining 90%. The social system in South Africa perpetuates the cycle of generational poverty. The World Bank suggests three policy measures to break this cycle. These measures include expanding and improving the quality of education, increasing access to production and land in rural areas and investing in social protection systems that safeguard the impoverished from climate risks and economic vulnerability.
  3. Honduras: Generational poverty is permanent and occurs when at least two generations are born into poverty. In a video produced by the nonprofit organization Children Internation, a young girl from Honduras expresses sadness about her grandparents, who are her adoptive parents, growing up in the same poor living conditions that she currently lives in. The girl is among the 75% of Hondurans living in rural areas below the poverty line, where access to food and shelter is often scarce. Sponsorships through organizations such as Children International provide resources to help break the cycle of generational poverty for children. The Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA) provides financial services for families who live in poverty in Honduras, with 55.5% of borrowers being women. It provides individual loans, village banking loans, rural and agriculture loans and insurance to more than 60,000 clients.

Looking Ahead

Although many citizens in the aforementioned countries are still dealing with the challenges posed by generational poverty, there are ongoing initiatives that provide the required support to help them break the chain and create better opportunities for their children.

– Olivia Maillet
Photo: Flickr

UK Aid to IndiaThe United Kingdom and India have had a long history of partnership. The two regularly collaborate in fields such as technology, education and trade. The U.K. has also given India valuable aid that has supported its progress and development over the past decades. According to the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, the U.K. supplied India with £2.3 billion in aid between 2016 and 2021. However, in recent years, as India’s economy has flourished, the U.K. has moved away from bilateral aid to the country. Instead, the focus is now on investment that will not only help India but will also yield considerable returns for the U.K. Here’s everything you need to know about the U.K.’s aid to India.

Official Development Assistance (ODA)

The U.K. is a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee. And as such, it makes contributions toward ODA. According to the parliament, ODA has the development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective.

In 1970, the U.N. set a target for all countries that supported ODA to donate 0.7% of its gross national income. Before meeting the target for the first time in 2013, the U.K. consistently failed to do so in the years prior. The International Development Act of 2015 only solidified the country’s commitment to this goal. So, for the first time since 2013, the U.K. decided to reduce ODA spending to 0.5% of its GNI due to financial challenges during COVID-19.

Past Efforts: UK Aid to India

The U.K. has been providing aid to India for a while now, but it has gradually shifted its focus over the years. In the past, bilateral aid was the main form of support to India. The U.K. government gave particular importance to social sector programs in India between 2008 and 2011. According to a framework paper, aid focused on “areas such as health, education, rural livelihoods and urban slum improvement” via Indian-government-led programs. The target states for such programs included Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

In 2011, the U.K. directed its focus to the Indian private sector. According to an accord made in July of that year between the countries, the U.K. provided financial and technical assistance predominantly in Odisha, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The government also approved the Private Sector Development Initiative in eight Indian states where the U.K. could provide aid in the form of “returnable capital”.

The U.K. reevaluated its aid strategy again in 2012 and agreed with the Indian government on a new direction for support after 2015. It decided to cease financial grants to government sector programs after 2015. Instead, the country looked to focus on technical cooperation in areas like governance, growth, education and skills, trade and investment and health. The government also pledged to support small entrepreneurial projects which would lead to more opportunities in the private sector.

Changing Priorities

In recent years, the Department for International Development (DFID) and other agencies are investing to modernize and improve the Indian economy. In 2018, out of all the bilateral aid given to India, 85% of it was directed toward economic development. The top three funded programs that year were National Infrastructure Investment Fund, Infrastructure Equity Fund and the Poorest States Inclusive Growth Program.

According to a policy paper, “the U.K.’s support in India is helping stimulate prosperity, generate jobs, develop skills and open up new markets for both countries.” Besides supporting Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7, 8, 9 and 11, DFID promises results in other areas.

A major focus is on skills training and start-ups. The target is to invest in 50 enterprises, with an estimate to generate 25,000 jobs and yield high returns on investment. DFID will additionally fund urban development for 700,000 people, creating 20,000 jobs and securing around £1 billion in financing.

DFID will also support clean energy in India and potentially yield a return of £6.5 billion for the private sector. It is set to prevent 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by providing clean energy to 1.8 million people. Furthermore, it aims to help 2 million people living in poverty in India deal with drought, flood and extreme heat.

Looking Ahead: UK Aid to India

According to the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, India ranked n0. 11 as the largest recipient of the U.K. bilateral aid in 2021. While this shows that India still receives aid from the U.K., its objective has changed substantially over the past decades, as it has been the “largest recipient of the U.K.’s development investment.”

Out of the £2.3 billion donated to India between 2016 and 2021, £129 million was invested in Indian ventures. British International Investment (BII) also invested £1 billion in the country during that time, representing 28% of its global portfolio. All these investments have been generating profitable returns for the U.K.

In May 2021, the UK government released a policy paper tagged 2030 Roadmap for India-U.K. Future Relations. It contains guidelines that will ensure a deepening partnership with India on issues like trade, defense and clean energy. The U.K. investment in India is creating opportunities in both nations, leading to a more prosperous U.K. While certain sectors still need aid in India, history suggests that effective partnerships and support can uplift the entire nation.

– Siddhant Bhatnagar
Photo: Flickr

digitization-in-indiaWith the highest 10% of the population holding 57% of India’s national income as of 2021, India stands as one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world. Governments and businesses remain in search of the most effective methods to lift Indians out of poverty. Recent research has explored the benefits of demonetization and digitization in India at the individual and government level.

India has come full swing in embracing the digital age, with Aadhaar – the national biometric digital identity program – covering 99.7% of the nation’s adult population as of December 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has further strengthened the drive to go online, with an increase in sellers on almost all e-commerce platforms. Digitization in India will help the nation make strides in poverty reduction.

Digitization and Improving the Economy

According to McKinsey, “60 million to 65 million

could be created through the direct impact of productivity-boosting digital applications” by 2025. Furthermore, with more than 10 million businesses brought to a common digital platform through the 2013 Goods and Services Tax Network, digitization is incentivizing businesses to go online, thus, enhancing cooperation and streamlining India’s fragmented and informal marketplace. Outside the commercial world, digitizing sectors such as agriculture, education and health care can create up to $150 billion of incremental economic value by 2025 as it can raise output and save on costs and time.

Digitization and Improving Government Services

Not only can digitization help boost the economy and provide jobs to millions but it can also improve the government services essential to the positive well-being of citizens. To improve urban service deliveries in Andhra Pradesh, the government and World Bank designed AI platforms to monitor municipal services. By using drones and Geographic Information System mapping, the World Bank updated town plans and geo-tagged citizens’ issues with “online visibility” to enhance transparency and hold municipal engineers accountable for resolving issues within a certain time period.

By linking applications for piped water supply to AI, the project also provided new water connections to more than 200,000 homes in 110 municipalities between 2015 and 2019. In this same time period, “revenue from property taxes and water charges more than doubled,” enabling the government to collect sufficient resources for civil projects.

The Downside of Digitization

Despite its promise for socio-economic transformation, digitization has a long way to go in lifting all classes of Indians out of poverty. As access to digital services is still largely reserved for the upper class, those living in poverty remain excluded from the advantages of e-commerce. Therefore, in some ways, digitization may be entrenching poverty instead of reducing it. This problem proves even more serious for Indian women, only about a third of whom have internet access and rely on education as their primary form of social security in 2022.

Hope for the Future

While many Indians are yet to experience the benefits of digitization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India program, launched in 2015, centers around the internet as a utility for all citizens. The program’s goals include “universal digital literacy” and “easy access to a Common Service Centre” for all.

With more efficient government services and more Indians gaining access to the formal marketplace, digitization in India promises a future of reduced poverty.

– Imogen Scott
Photo: Flickr

4 Ways India’s Government Can Improve its EconomyRecently, Bangladesh, once considered one of the world’s poorest countries, has surpassed India in GDP per capita. This news has caused outrage among Indian citizens, but the government will not be able to mimic Bangladesh in creating a more prominent low-wage manufacturing export sector. Instead, India needs reforms that will create higher incomes for everyday workers, who are the backbone and foundation of the country’s economy.

GDP per capita measures the average income earned per person in a country during a given year. In 2019, India’s GDP per capita was $2,104. However, in 2020, this figure dropped to $1,876, placing the country one spot below Bangladesh, which currently has a GDP per capita of $1,887. Unlike India, Bangladesh has experienced consistent economic growth over the past three years.

Indian citizens are demanding that Narendra Modi, the country’s prime minister, enact reforms and policies that will boost GDP per capita by improving wages for India’s working class. Here are four ways that India could potentially boost its GDP per capita.

4 Ways India’s Government Can Improve GDP

  1. Increasing income for farmers. In India, 40% of the population works in agriculture and small-scale farming supports many poverty-level communities. However, the Indian government has historically kept prices for agricultural products low in favor of the consumer, despite the lower profits for farmers. The recently introduced 2020 Farm Acts will allow farmers to sell their products to the highest bidder, allowing them to seek higher incomes. When farmers are prospering, they support other sectors of India’s economy through their own consumption. Products like fertilizer, working attire and tools are necessary for farmers, especially as they expand their business. This increase in expenditure directly creates jobs for others.
  1. Through government expenditure and investment in infrastructure. The government controls the amount the nation spends on public matters each year. However, government spending is necessary to increase the overall GDP per capita. This year, incomes have declined for Indian citizens, meaning private consumption has also decreased. By spending money on building and repairing roads and bridges, the government will provide citizens with greater ease and efficiency in their work and create jobs in construction. Furthermore, by using more funds to pay higher salaries, private consumption will once again increase, promoting higher business investment and improving the market for imports and exports. By spending a certain amount of money, the government would benefit from the economic boost created as a result.
  1. Urbanizing India’s rural populations. Urbanization drives economic growth, and because India’s farming population is so prominent, moving some of these farmers to cities would allow them to get jobs in manufacturing. Not only would this increase agricultural productivity by decreasing the number of farmers using the same amount of land, but it would help grow some of India’s medium-sized cities into more prominent urban landscapes. The government can promote migration to city areas by providing incentives to rural populations, including investing in better infrastructure and urban services, such as transportation and water management. In addition, new urban populations would create a resurgence of the housing market and give banks more lending opportunities. Inevitably, more development and urbanization would create new opportunities for international investments and manufacturing exports.
  1. Becoming competitive in high-potential sectors. India has the opportunity to create as much as $1 trillion in economic value by establishing itself as a competitive manufacturer of electronics, chemicals, textiles, auto goods and pharmaceuticals. These sectors accounted for 56% of global trade in 2018, while India only contributed to 1.5% of global exports in these areas. Greater urbanization and an increase in the manufacturing labor force would allow India’s government to make this a reality. Currently, the country’s imports constitute a greater percentage of global trade than its exports. By increasing competitiveness in these sectors, India would not only increase its potential for exports but also decrease its reliance on imports, curbing the amount of money spent by citizens on foreign products.

While the path to economic recovery is not always as straightforward as it seems, India’s government has several means through which it can improve incomes for everyday workers. The government not only has an incentive but an obligation to create a better quality of life for its working class, which is the foundation of India’s economy. Improving India’s GDP per capita would directly benefit the nation and its citizens. Greater opportunities for manufacturing exports, foreign investments and urbanization are all benefits the country would reap from its own investment in its working class.

– Natasha Cornelissen
Photo: Flickr