India and Pakistan
A man from India and a man from Pakistan stood proudly together representing their nations at a T-20 Cricket World Cup game in 2012. This is significant, as, in the year 1947, after India became independent from the British Empire, the Muslim minorities in the nation felt that they were experiencing underrepresentation and demanded partition. As a result of their religious divisions, India and Pakistan became two sovereign nations. About 70 years later, their harsh differences continue to exist. It is important to note that despite their religious and lingual difference, their poverty rates are both high. In India, about 21.9% of people lived below the poverty line as of 2011. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, about 24.3% of people lived below the poverty line as of 2015.

Religious Divisions

The main reason behind India’s partition was its religious divisions. Due to the Hindu majority within the government, the Muslim minorities felt that the government policies would only benefit the Hindus. Moreover, they also felt that the government would misrepresent them. Muhammed Ali Jinnah, a Pakistani politician, led Pakistan and developed a Muslim majority nation, while Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, developed a Hindu majority of India. Religion became the foundation of the partition movement. Many still view it as the basis of the conflict between the two nations.

Consequently, about 15 million people suffered displacement, as the Muslims in India migrated to the newly established Pakistan. Along with this, about 1 million and more people died due to religious conflicts. The political conflicts between the two nations had led many other citizens to suffer the consequences. As a result, many families lost important members, and some became homeless.

Poverty in India

While the two nations have often been enemies, they have a common issue of high poverty rates, with India at 21.9% in 2011 and 29.5% in 2015. The causes of the high rates of poverty are similar in both nations as well.

A common cause of poverty in both nations is hunger, unemployment and lack of education. In India, about 200 million people do not have access to decent food. In addition, the lack of employment with proper wages is difficult to access, since many Indian people live in small rural villages. UNICEF revealed that about 25% of children in India do not have access to education in India. In fact, often girls in India have to learn household jobs. Due to this unequal treatment of women, it is difficult for them to find jobs with a good wage.

Poverty in Pakistan

Pakistan has seen a similar trend to India. Typically, women and children find it really difficult to find access to food. Due to inflation, many resources are simply unaffordable.

In terms of employment, many Pakistani citizens live in rural areas. Consequently, they do not have access to proper jobs. Many who have jobs do not have proper wages. Moreover, about 90 million people lived on less than $2 a day in 2011. This makes poverty harder to overcome.

Inequality amongst women and young girls also increases poverty levels. Like India, women have to learn household tasks so that they have experience when they marry. Additionally, people often look down on women who work outside the house. Efforts to educate women have made a significant impact on this. Other influences on poverty include violence, ongoing conflicts with terrorist groups, malnutrition, infant mortality rates and child labor.

Solutions to Poverty in India

In India, the government is working to combat poverty in a variety of different ways. An initiative the government has launched to help decrease poverty is Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana or Housing For All. It focuses on providing the poor with affordable housing. Additionally, the program tries to empower the women by mandatorily making them the owner or co-owner of the house. Another program that the government launched is the Atal Mission For Urban Rejuvenation and Transformation. This program focuses on improving infrastructure and developing a proper sewage network, along with better water supplies for urbanization. In addition, the nation gets support from international organizations such as the U.N.

Solutions to Poverty in Pakistan

Pakistan’s government is also working effectively to decrease poverty levels. A program that the Pakistani government launched to help combat poverty is known as the Benazir Income Support Program. It focuses on assisting the poor financially. The program is essentially a cash transfer program that forces on reducing poverty and elevating the status of marginalized and underprivileged communities. Additionally, Pakistan receives plenty of support from international organizations such as USAID and the World Bank.

India and Pakistan continue to have political conflicts with each other. Similar to the relationship between the United States and Russia, the two nations have competitive views toward each other. Despite their differences, they have similar issues internally, such as poverty. However, although the new nations have significantly high levels of poverty, they have decreased the rates. Within a period of 10 years, from 2006 to 2016, India lifted about 271 million people out of poverty. Pakistan significantly lowered its poverty rates as well and now has the second-lowest headcount poverty rate in South Asia. As urbanization continues in both countries, reductions in poverty are occurring, although at a slow rate.

Krishna Panchal
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in India
India has a population of 1.3 billion and is the second most populated country in the world. While it has a booming economy and democratic government, it has nonetheless struggled with containing its population growth and maintaining an equal distribution of wealth. India’s GDP is worth $2.6 trillion, but so many remain sidelined by their country’s overpopulation and are struggling to find a roof over their heads. Homelessness in India is a growing issue, one that will require multilateral cooperation from various sources to overcome.

The Statistics

India is the second most unequal country in the world, with 55 percent of income going to the top 10 percent of its population. Since India’s population increased exponentially, many cities ran out of space to contain the growing population. According to the Homeless World Cup, there were about 1.8 million homeless individuals living in India as of 2019. Over half of this population was living in urban areas, such as slums on the edge of cities. Unfortunately, the majority of the homeless often experience displacement through government-endorsed city beautification programs or by natural disasters. Due to their lack of resources, those who are homeless and poor struggle to recover from these events.


Most homeless people in India live on the streets of cities, under bridges, on highways or in any place they can seek refuge. Some maintain a nomadic lifestyle, where they roam around to find the best area for themselves and/or their families to live. In addition, they often face difficulties from the weather. This is especially prevalent during severe weather conditions, such as rain or snow. They have to use what is at their disposal to protect themselves.

Moreover, women are more prone to abuse, trafficking and harassment, especially if they live on their own or as single mothers. Even in slums, families have very limited access to basic resources and almost no access to sanitation. Additionally, illegal squatting makes up a majority of the slum population, so many families live in fear of eviction.


Despite the alarming numbers, the country is making progress to combat homelessness and poverty in India. Each day, 44 people come out of poverty through the work of government initiatives. The Indian government has implemented initiatives to help the poverty-induced with housing. The most prominent example of this is the Housing for All Act, called Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Declared in 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, this Act claims to build homes for the entire population by 2022 (when India reaches 75 years of independence). However, there is a lot of criticism about the act in terms of its feasibility.

Many critics claim that the federal government should actually follow in the footsteps of one of its states. In Kerala, the state government put another Housing for All Act in place, granting its homeless population free flats. As of April 2019, the state built the first set of flats that fit 145 families within a 270-flat complex. Kerala’s state government is surveying its homeless population and figuring out who qualifies for need-based housing and then building flats based on its findings. It plans to build over 400,000 flats. The government will cover all funding for the flats.

The Housing for All Act could solve homelessness in India. However, India still has a long way to go in order to achieve this ideal. The government initiatives are the first steps in figuring out how to end this chronic issue that India has had to deal with for decades.

Shreya Chari
Photo: Flickr