Essay and Answer Writing

“Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere” [2018]

“Poverty is the worst form of violence” – said by Mahatma Gandhi, he predicted a violent situation if the distribution of wealth was not made more equitable. While equitable distribution of wealth as an idea has been argued, it is nonetheless true that extreme poverty is an issue facing the present world order. Definition of poverty has been enunciated by various economists, but it commonly moves around the principle of a dearth of being provided with two square meals a day. The essay evaluates poverty and all its dimensions, steps being taken to tackle it and the road ahead, both worldwide and in India. 
 
What is poverty and what does it entail?
The word poverty comes from the French word poverté and from Latin paupertās that means ‘poor’. There are several definitions of poverty usually meaning a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials for a certain standard of living. The United Nations Organisation defines poverty as the inability of having choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society and not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. 
 
The World Bank defines it as deprivation in well-being, and comprising many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. 
 
In the India, the purchasing power of an individual falling below 32 rupees per day is considered the marker. Government of India also has recently inferred that sections of people earning less than One Lakh rupees per annum to be economically backward, thereby qualifying for certain benefits.
 
Poverty is generally associated with a low level of income. This income is primarily directed towards consumption thereby leaving very little for saving/investment. A low level of savings obviates the need for a banking account thereby creating financial exclusion and lack of investment opportunities. This creates a barrier for financial inclusion and it can deprive people of the benefits and the incentives offered by the financial system. Poverty can, therefore, be self-fuelling from generations to generations.
 
How is poverty measured?
·Absolute poverty – or ‘extreme poverty’ refers to a set standard which is consistent over time and between countries. This set standard usually refers to a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services.
·Relative poverty - views poverty as socially defined and dependent on social context. It is argued that the needs considered fundamental is not an objective measure and could change with the custom of society. For example, a person who cannot afford housing better than a small tent in an open field would be said to live in relative poverty if almost everyone else in that area lives in modern brick homes. 
·Rather than income, poverty is also measured through individual basic needs at a time. Life expectancy has greatly increased in the developing world since World War II and is starting to close the gap to the developed world. Child mortality has decreased in every developing region of the world.
·Poverty may also be understood as an aspect of unequal social status and inequitable social relationships, experienced as social exclusion, dependency, and diminished capacity to participate, or to develop meaningful connections with other people in society.
 
Why is poverty a threat to a society’s well-being?
The world also has had different equations that revolve in comprehending poverty, but not prosperity. Various countries, commonly referred to as third world countries by the UN have all suffered to navigate poverty and these countries have thwarted prosperity by relying on such developed countries for sustenance. G7 countries as the affluent countries are addressed have always worked in the alleviation of poverty across the world, but has had futile results. No one reason can be attributed to poverty, but poverty has affected prosperity from thriving. Prosperity has its wealth bargained in strategising compensating the poor.
The International Labour Organisation Declaration of Philadelphia, 1944 stated “Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere.” Poverty, therefore, has implications for global stability which has been well appreciated by the policy makers the world over. Even after 7 decades of independence, poverty remains one of India’s persistent issues. It is obvious that no nation can move forward when millions in its population are deprived of basic needs, have poor nutrition, education, and face discrimination. 
 
·Health - One third of deaths around the world are due to poverty-related causes. Poor people often are more prone to severe diseases due to the lack of health care, and due to living in non-optimal conditions. Among the poor, girls tend to suffer even more due to gender discrimination.
·Poverty has been shown to impede cognitive function. One way in which this may happen is that financial worries put a severe burden on one's mental resources so that they are no longer fully available for solving complicated problems. 
·The reduced capability for problem solving can lead to suboptimal decisions and further perpetuate poverty.
·Hunger – rise in the costs of living make poor people less able to afford items.
·Education - there is a high risk of educational underachievement for children who are from low-income housing circumstances. 
·Homelessness
·Lack of access to home, sanitation, electricity, water, etc.
·Violence - many women become victims of trafficking, the most common form of which is prostitution, as a means of survival and economic desperation.
 
Remedies
The Sustainable Development Goal 1 of the United Nations is to ‘to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere’ by 2030. Various poverty reduction strategies are broadly categorised based on whether they make more of the basic human needs available or whether they increase the disposable income needed to purchase those needs. Some strategies such as building roads can both bring access to various basic needs, such as fertiliser or healthcare from urban areas, as well as increase incomes, by bringing better access to urban markets.
 
The Indian government has taken quite a few steps in that direction:
·Jan-Dhan Yojana– opening of bank accounts and most households have been connected to the formal financial system. The need of the hour now is to ensure that services are easily accessible to the account holders, are cost-effective and service efficient & most importantly the accounts remain active.
·Direct Bank Transfer - would ensure that the benefits are transferred directly to the targeted population and the leakages are avoided.
·Entrepreneurship - preparing the poor for self-employment is perhaps the most lasting solution for poverty alleviation. The role of entrepreneurship as a key driver of economic growth and development and alleviating poverty and unemployment has been well researched and documented in both developed and developing countries.
·MSMEs - promoting growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is critical from the perspective of job creation which is recognised as a prime mover of the development agenda in India. MSMEs sector contributes about 45% of the total industrial output, 40% of the export and 8% in the GDP. Also, the sector employs largest amount of workforce after agriculture and promotes balanced regional development.
 
Conclusion
Reasons from climate, internal strife, corruption and greed, dearth of natural resources, frequent calamities and geographical disturbances have all been a bane for countries not developing, these factors have inadvertently impacted the prosperous to act upon the reconciliation of poverty. The SDG goal is to end poverty by 2030. This would mean ensuring social protection, access to basic needs, building resilience, etc. In the next 10 years, the international community must come together to make inclusive economic growth possible. 
 
(Source: rbi.org / worldbank.org / Wikipedia.com)



Related Articles
 
• The PPP model of development [2012]
• “To test a man’s character, give him power”
• GDP along with GNH as the indices for measuring progress
• The relevance of Gandhi in modern times [2012]
• Hyper Globalism: a threat to human prosperity?
• Business Process Outsourcing in India: a booming phenomenon? [2007]
• Covid-19 and the BioMedical Waste crisis
• Non-Performing Assets in the banking sector: causes and solutions
• Developing Renewable Energies in India [2018]
• “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment” [2008]
Recent Articles
 
• Nobel Peace Prize, 2020
• Convention on the conservation of migratory species of wild animals India
• Emerging Technologies Division set up
• Decade of Healthy Ageing
• MOSAiC Expedition
• Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy, 2020
• 42nd GST Council Meeting
• Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): Bill in Parliament
• Sub-categorisation of OBCs
• India-Maldives bilateral relations: ‘Air bubble agreements’