Sustained poverty reduction | Deccan Herald

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Due to general economic growth over the past decades, poverty in India has decreased. And especially in 2006-12, it saw a faster decline of around 10 percent due to the implementation of the MNREGA in the poorest rural areas, as confirmed by many international agencies / observers.

Unfortunately, due to slower growth, demonetization, widespread inventory build-up, slowing employment, low levels of bank lending, capital investment, income growth, etc. poverty has not decreased as expected since 2016. And worse, the Covid-19 lockdown has overwhelmed the world and India in 2020; large-scale loss of jobs and income and the resulting urban-to-rural exodus in crore made 7.5 crore (?) people poorer.

The government has yet to provide credible survey figures on how many crores have migrated and have been added to BPL numbers. The previous experience of poverty reduction has therefore turned out to be simply a stopgap and not sustainable. To address this general slowdown and the trend increase in poverty, the government has taken many measures to raise income to people in distress, both in cash and in kind. Since poverty is multidimensional, its sustainable and irreversible reduction must also be multidimensional, through various official and private projects, agencies and efforts.

Obviously, any sustainable reduction in poverty depends on securing stable supra-minimum incomes for the poor, possibly including election manifesto policies and assurances like NYAY, nyunatham ay yojana or a minimum income program. to cover all BPL households interviewed, in particular their female heads. .

This will naturally come on top of their low systemic incomes, all due to widespread underemployment and unemployment; allows them to spend on basic necessities and, over time, save and spend on capital such as livestock, auto rickshaws, rural taxis, tools for the economy of odd jobs, etc. , sending children to schools for longer years and to skills development institutions such as ITIs and polytechnics; and of course on the nutritional provisions and long-term health of children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

These protracted measures are essentially human development activities, perhaps sufficient conditions for a sustainable increase in incomes and a reduction in poverty. And it will act forcefully and without interruption to move labor from overcrowded agriculture to services and industry, in both rural and urban areas; The latter are considered to yield better and higher incomes through the continuous diffusion of education and skills, concomitant with the needs of the industry and its expansion in all geographic regions.

Poverty reduction, like anything else in interventional public / government administration, must be policy-driven and institutionalized; and politicians or elected officials, legislators and ministers have not proven effective in making this institutional delivery of administrative and benefit services substantial, sustained and focused on truly needy or beneficiary classes or families.

On the contrary, these politicians worry about their upcoming elections and the personal, family and partisan benefits; not on local schools, ITIs and hospitals; and local water bodies, roads, bridges and vents, make them tangible modes of poverty reduction. Their attention to institutional effectiveness and endowments, personnel and material dependencies is largely scarce; maybe that doesn’t easily bring much publicity or electoral benefits.

Delivery service

Citizens and beneficiary classes must organize themselves and therefore fend for themselves with regard to the efficiency of service delivery institutions; an act of social and political mobilization, development and awareness.

A heuristic or plausible cost of securing income subsidies for the country’s poor: there are about 20 percent or about 28 crore poor in the country, all spread across seven crore households; and about 80 crores belong to the middle class category. If each poor head of household receives 5,000 rupees per month, this equals 35,000 crore rupees and the annual expenditure will be 4-20,000 crore rupees. Already, banks have parked Rs 7-8 lakh crore of their idle funds with the RBI.

And the Center is offering to sell bonds to the RBI (worth Rs 12.06 billion in 2021-2022), a plan that can best be described as quantitative easing. These products can be used in part to meet these expenses in order to reach incomes for the poorest households and constitute an effort of distributive justice and reduction of inequalities.

With 60 percent of the population or 84 crore living in rural areas, we have the poor living mostly in villages. Their productivity and income are closely related to agricultural productivity and multi-crop agriculture on drylands combined with rain harvesting and conservation of water bodies everywhere; and these are all ongoing programs involving the rural workforce and possibly MNREGA activities. Access to safe water and sanitation facilities, including the provision of latrines globally, will be a labor intensive rural activity.

These also have an environmental upgrading dimension; this modernization is equivalent to increasing the common facilities for the poor in rural areas, hill slopes, river banks and coastal regions. As the poor are easier to spend on basic necessities and households are thus able to save at the grassroots level, there will be capital investments by the poor, which will lead to increased demand for the economy. industry and urban services. This will be a relevant aspect of the sustained poverty reduction and distributive justice activities in the country.

(The writer, passionate about public affairs, is a former professor, Maharaja’s College, Mysuru)

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