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Poverty As A Challenge : NCERT Exercise Questions


Q.1     Describe how the poverty line is estimated in India?
Sol.      As per 2000 figures; a family of five which is earning less than Rs. 1,640 per month is considered to be living below the poverty line. This figure is Rs. 2,270 per month for the urban area.
The expected calorie intake has been fixed at 2400 calories per person in rural areas and 2100 calories in urban areas. A person consuming less than this amount is considered to be living below the poverty line.


Q.2     Do you think that present methodology of poverty estimation is appropriate?
Sol.      Any method of poverty estimation cannot be appropriate. However, the current methods give some starting point to discuss the issue and to tackle the problem. The goal of poverty alleviation is a moving target because definition of poverty changes with time. Once the basic needs of all the people are fulfilled then some higher needs would need to be taken into account to address the issue of poverty.


Q.3     Describe poverty trends in India since 1973?
Sol.      The percentage of poor people has declined from 54.9% in 1973 to 26.1% in 2001. This shows a significant decline. However, the absolute number of poor has remained more or less static at 320 million. Recently it has declined to 260 million.


Q.4     Discuss the major reasons for poverty in India?
Sol.      The British policies during the colonial rule were not in favour of the local economy. Traditional handicrafts declined and not much of the modern industries could develop during that period. This is considered to be a major reason for abject poverty in India at the time of independence. The low growth rate persisted till 1980s. This was coupled with a high growth rate in population and resulted in a higher number of poor. Green Revolution helped in reviving the agricultural sector but its effect was limited to certain parts of the country; mainly in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. The secondary sector did not generate enough employment opportunties. This forced many rural migrants to go for unskilled works. Inequality of income is another major reason of poverty in India. In spite of land reform initiatives, a major portion of land is in the hands of a selected few and a large portion of farmers are landless. There are many socio-cultural factors which also contribute to poverty. An average Indian has to spend huge amount on marriage and other rituals because of socio-cultural pressure. This creates a heavy drain on savings.


Q.5     Identify the social and economic groups which are most vulnerable to poverty in India.
Sol.      Scheduled tribes, scheduled castes, rural agricultural workers and urban casual labourers are the most vulnerable socioeconomic group in India.


Q.6     Give an account of interstate disparities of poverty in India.
Sol.      Poverty level shows wide variations in different states of India. Kerala has the least poverty ratio at about 15%, while tops the chart with 81% of the population living below poverty line.


Q.7     Describe global poverty trends.
Sol.      The percentage of people living below povery line has fallen from 28% in 1991 to 21% in 2001; in the developing countries. Poverty declined substantially in China and some South Asian countries because of rapid economic development. On the other hand, reduction was not as sharp in countries; like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc. 
In Sub Saharan Africa, poverty increased from 41% in 1981 to 48% in 2001. The poverty level has remained the same in Latin America. Poverty has resurfaced in Russia and some of the former communist countries.


Q.8     Describe current government strategy of poverty alleviation?
Sol.      The current anti-poverty measures are targetted at two planks, viz. promotion of economic growth and anti-poverty programmes. Economic growth helps in overall improvement of income through employment generation and hence is highly important to reduce poverty. Anti-poverty programmes are aimed to help those who suffer because of socioeconomic inequality. Such programmes are an attempt to support poor people so that they can improve their condition.


Q.9     What do you understand by human poverty?
Sol.      A general scarcity of basic necessities of life is called poverty. The basic necessities include food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, sanitation, etc. Some of the issues which are related to poverty are; Landlessness, Unemployment, Size of families, Illiteracy, Poor health/malnutrition, Child labour and Helplessness.


Q.10     Who are the poorest of the poor?
Sol.        People who are unable to fulfill even the most basic needs; like food, shelter and clothing are called the poorest of the poor.


Q.11     What are the main features of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005?
Sol.        MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme): This programme was originally started in 2005 as NREGA. Under this programme, one member of each rural household shall be given 100 days employment in a year. The person should be willing to work for unskilled job. If the government fails to provide employment to a person within fifteen days, he would be getting unemployment allowance in lieu of that. National Food for Work Programme (NFWP) has also been merged with MNREGA.