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India- Problem of Poverty Amidst Plenty

India- Problem of Poverty Amidst Plenty

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Published by: Sibi Adhithya Senthil Kumar on May 17, 2012
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05/17/2012

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India: Problems of Poverty amidst plenty
“India happens to be a rich country inhabited by very poor people”-Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister For the past few decades, India has been categorized as a developingcountry. In spite of significant landmarks and rapid advancements invarious sectors, India has failed to become a developed country. Whilethe nation has been making headlines for economic boom, multitudes of billionaires, construction of skyscrapers, million dollar investments andachievements in technology; the death rates, malnutrition, illiteracy andpoverty is multiplying manifold. India is a country which has prosperity onone side of the coin and poverty on the other. It is the stark impact of poverty that hinders the growth of the country.Gone are the days when India used to be a famine land and had to relyon the Americas for the supply of PL wheat. With the advent of the Greenrevolution, India, not only eliminated famine but also increased its foodproduction and became self-sufficient in food grains. Operation Flood,initiated by National Dairy Development Board in 1970 introduced aNational Milk Grid that was effective in reducing the poverty and faminelevels. The scheme has also made India the largest producer of milk anddairy products in the world. Agriculture has been the base of India’s economic development with itsexistence in India dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization. Today,India is one of the major agricultural economies in the world, in terms of area of cultivation, total produce, bio- diversity, saturation and surplus infood grains, FCI godowns and buffer stock. Statistically, in terms of thefarm output, India is ranked second in the world. The important role thatagriculture plays in India’s economy can be realized from the fact that itcontributed to 16.6% of the country’s GDP in 2007 and provides jobs to52% of the working population. India’s agriculturally strong in the worldmarket being the largest producer of fresh fruits, second in the productionof fresh vegetables and third in terms of poultry products.But in spite of this abundant agricultural wealth, scores of people die dueto malnutrition and food scarcity. Statistics show us that a staggering 42.5% of children are suffering from malnutrition in India. World Bank hasreported that India comes second in child malnutrition and is home to thelargest number of underweight children in the world.Thousands of people die everyday due to lack of food and proper hygiene. India faces two nutrition problems- Under nutrition and over nutrition. People in Punjab and Kerala suffer from over nutrition where thepeople consume more than sufficient food whereas the people in UP,West Bengal and Chattisgarh struggle to survive.
 
Naturally, a question arises in everyone’s mind- Why are we sufferingfrom food scarcity and malnutrition when we are capable of being self reliant?The main problem lies in the improper storage and distribution of the foodthat is produced. The majority of the crops are left to rot in the FCIgodowns and the buffer stock becomes waste. A good storage unitrequires proper ventilation, control of moisture and adequate sunlight. Butthe only thing that seems to be predominant in the food storage units isthe rats. In 2010, a RTI query has showed that over a period of sixmonths in the year, 10,688 lakh tonnes of food grains were damaged inFCI depots. This amount is estimated to feed around 600,000 people for a period of ten years.The government does not invest enough monetary funds for thedevelopment of agriculture and the implementation of technology in thesame field. It feels that the agriculture sector is not worth the highinvestment due to a low return but it fails to realize that it is the basis onwhich the nation survives. Further, India is home to 1.15 billion andcertainly, the number of people is increasing faster than the rate at whichfood is being produced. As a result, a decrease in supply and increase indemand occurs.Nowadays, it is common to find the ruling party offer free items during theelection times. In Tamil Nadu, during every state and national elections,certain political parties offer free television, rice at Re.1 per kilo andhousehold appliances such as mixer grinder and stoves. The governmentcan rather concentrate on improving the infrastructure in the agriculturalfront so that it makes the farmers take up more interest in agriculture anddevelop it rather than making them sit at home.The other important factor is the per capita income of the nation.In the yester years, India was the
Treasure Island 
to the western worldand it witnessed invasions and subsequent colonization where it wasstripped of its riches. When Europe and America cashed in on the tide of Industrial revolution, India failed to catch up with it and as a result laggedbehind. Over the past decade, India has made substantial growth andestablished a firm position in the world economy.India is currently the second fastest growing economic superpower in theworld only behind China. It is the tenth largest economy in the world interms of nominal GDP and fourth in terms of purchasing power parity. Inthe olden days, India was called the “Land of Wealthy Maharajas” andtoday, it is turning into a Land of Billionaires. As of 2010, Forbes has
 
listed out 69 billionaires in the country, with steel giant, Lakshmi Mittalcoming sixth in the world’s Billionaire List. The World Bank report statesthat India is the tenth wealthiest nation in terms of GDP with the valuemounting up to a staggering 1537966 million dollars. India is the highestgold importing country in the world. Irrespective of the constant shoot inthe bullion prices, there are a score of jewellery stores that keepspringing up. For instance, during the Akshay Tritay, jewellery stores arealways packed with people craving for more gold. Just as the westerncountries craved for India in the olden days, today, the western MNCs arefighting off to establish themselves in the country, which they perceive asa competitive market. As of April 2011, India’s Foreign Exchangereserves are estimated at 313,511 million dollars which ranks 7
th
in theworld. These numbers clearly reflect the copious wealth that is present inthe nationIndia has witnessed a major and rapid evolution over the past decade.The number of wealthy people has increased and people are able toafford a wealthy lifestyle. The streets are no longer empty; they arecrowded with shopping malls and leisure centres. Today, one can evenfind a vegetable seller in the market using a mobile phone. Technologyhas made inroads into the country reaching even to rural areas.Teenagers are sporting branded apparels and latest gadgets andexpensive cars on our roads have become a common sight.In spite of this massive amount of wealth, India is crippled by the menaceof poverty and illiteracy. The Tendulkar Committee report states that 37%of the population lives below the poverty line. Further, 77% of Indians liveon less than 20 a day which is a lot poorer than much Sub-Saharancountries in the economically weak Africa. India accounts for 35% of theworld’s illiterate people and the number is expected to increase.Poverty is not merely present in India; in fact, it has etched itself deepinto the nation multiplying the sufferings of the people. Poverty hasbecome a nationalized ideology. And the saddening truth is that povertythrives amidst the riches. One can still find ill-clothed infants begging tosurvive outside the posh malls in metropolitan cities like Mumbai andChennai. The presence of a queue of beggars outside the temples stillpersists. In many cities, while one might marvel at a skyscraper or amega mall, a slum area can be easily found in the periphery. A classic example of this is the Antilia, the world’s most expensive homein Mumbai built by Mukesh Amabani. The twenty seven storeyarchitectural artwork priced at one billion dollars stands surrounded bythe slums of South Mumbai.

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