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Review Article

Poverty and Hunger in India: What is
Needed to Eliminate Them
Rimjhim Bajpai1
The paper discusses about the various parameters to measure poverty in India. Also what are the existing
measures of poverty in India and how do they fit into the policy framework for poverty reduction in
India. The basic measure of poverty in India is determined by population under the below poverty line.
The parameters, which measure BPL population, are calculated based on the calorie intake of the family
members, which is then compared to the poverty index of various countries and their poverty reduction
policies. The parameters selected to calculate poverty by various scholars also pose the question of a
normalized way of calculating index. This give rise to various levels of poverty in a country using different
approaches. The inclusion of social parameters like life expectancy, infant mortality that are also correlated
to poverty are taken as a measure of poverty index. The correlation of poverty with all the socio-economic
factors bring this index to a platform where it cannot be calculated on a single basis and requires multiple
factors to be considered.

Keywords: Poverty,Hunger, GDP, Policies
In the paper “Poverty and Hunger in India: What is needed to eliminate them” by Arvind Virmani, he has discussed
about what are Basic facts of poverty, income distribution, and hunger aggregate level, the available data and their
relevance with the current scenario of poverty measurement, and then tried to link some of the outcomes to the policy
framework and programmes of the government. The various aspects that are discussed measuring poverty in India are
consumption distribution, the linkage between aggregate poverty and per capita consumption, issues in poverty beside
income/consumption, hunger in India, social indicators like health and literacy and government policies that are related
to poverty in India. The paper concludes with the broad theme that the failure of governments resource allocation
techniques. The failure to follow norms of social benefit cost analysis. The paper also proposes radical solution to the
problem of hunger and poverty.

In the paper the question arise on how poverty can be measured,one method of measuring poverty can be by calculating
consumption levels by the survey conducted, by the ratio of the per capita consumption from the national account
statistics, also the world bank‘s country economic memorandums for India which changed the methodology of changing
the survey mean to get the true picture of poverty rates.

Also, the trend line in during 1950’s and 60’s shows that poverty increased during that time despite the fact that the per
capita GDP grew throughout these two decades. The increase in poverty therefore coincided with a declining rate of
growth of per capita income and private consumption. But the overall growth in per capita income and overall increase
in poverty does not actually show the real scenario in India.

The relationship between national poverty rate and India per capita GDP is taken from the survey to avoid the conflict
between different data from NSS and NAS. A graph is made using theWorld Bank poverty and average consumption data
from 1950-1999, which clearly shows the linear relationship between aggregate poverty and aggregate consumption.
A one-rupee increase in average real monthly consumption expenditure raises 1% of the population above the poverty
line, the conclusion which is made out of it is that in India which is a democratic political system growth of aggregate
income/consumption is a sufficient condition for the reduction of poverty. The method in which the data is collected was

Scholar, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.

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How to cite this article: Bajpai R. Poverty and Hunger in India: What is Needed to Eliminate Them. J Adv Res Const Urban Arch
2017; 2(1&2): 17-18.

© ADR Journals 2017. All Rights Reserved.
Bajpai R J. Adv. Res. Const. Urban Arch. 2017; 2(1&2)

also a matter of concern, in the 1999-2000 survey,briefly who would be just at the poverty line if the poverty rate
the consumption is calculated by using three categories was 25%,30% and 35% respectively. Then it calculated the
of food products. Food products that are purchased daily/ income transfer needed for everybody below that level
weekly, semi durable products that are purchased monthly/ to be brought up to that level. This was compared by the
quarterly, and durable goods that are purchased annually/ government expenditure on food and for the poor on that
biannual or less, which made it non-comparable with year and was found the amount of money sufficient to
earlier periods when only 30 days question was asked. eliminate poverty. In the paper the eradication of poverty
And therefore a lot of difference was seen I calculating the is expected to eradicate through a smart card which allows
head count ratio (poverty rate) by different committees and direct flow of subsidies at a particular rate and amount into
scholars based on different methodologies. the person card, with that card he can buy basic necessities
like kerosene, pulses, wheat, basic drug etc. But in a country
Food and agriculture organization defines the percentage like India, where even the measurement of poverty is
of people hungry in developing nations but the question not calculated in the same way due to changing poverty
is what the facts about hunger are? The NSS questions in dimensions, formulating a smart card would not be feasible
hunger are for the government and even if it is, the implementation
and the maintenance would take a lot of time and endless
• Do all members of your household get two square/ efforts. To regulate the process and mechanism of the smart
enough meal everyday card process the author gave a solution of an independent
• If nor, then during which calendar month did you or authority which includes government officials and non-
other members of the household not have enough government organizations to monitor the integrity of the
food every day? (Virmani, 2006) poverty elimination system, but running of an independent
authority in such a wide topic in which fund flows and budget
The data collected was then related to the poverty, because
monitoring are a delicate and important thing to manage,
logically the number of hungry people must be a fraction
without government supervision would be uncontrollable.
of the poor for any reasonabledefinition of poverty. More
formal the line defining the verypooror hungry must logically Concluding the paper, the author describes and compare
lie below poverty line. Thus notonly has poverty declined the current scenario of Indian poverty ratio and per capita
over 1980’s and 1900s but the proportion of the poor who income with developed countries at similar per capita
are hungry has also declined, this is what the consumption income, but Indian ratio is comparatively high due to low
distribution has consistently improved. To measure health average income, and high population, but when compared
and education only few indicators and data is available with the GINI co-efficientIndia seems to be better than ¾the
which is continuous. On the health side infant mortality countries of the world. The reference paper “Poverty and
and life expectancy and on education side literacy rate is Inequality in India “ a Re-examination by “Angus Deaton,
available. These two parameters are also correlated with Jean Dreze , also discussed about the relative measurement
poverty and hunger, per capita household income, and the and indicators of poverty and the relation of those index
quality of public and quasi-public goods and services, which with other indicators like per capita income , but with the
include public health measures, communicable diseases and aspect of poverty they have also talked about the pattern of
epidemics, public education, supply of clean water, sewerage inter-regional ‘divergence ‘ in per capita expenditure(APCE)
and sanitation and primary education. The emphasis on basic which states that some states have virtually zero growth of
education and health is given less by the government as the average per capita expenditure which is a major indicator of
poor after having an extensive network of governmental poverty , according to me comparison of different stated in
health centers spends a substantial fraction of their funds India is a much effective way of calculating and comparing
on health. poverty and thus proposing measure relatively as different
states have different needs and situations.( (Angus Deaton,
The ranking shows that India ranks around the 20th percentile
in life expectancy at birth, this is marginally lower than
our ranking on per capita GDP. Even after having so many Therefore, topic of poverty in India cannot be taken as a
program reforms focusing children and women and their single problem occurring at the same level but it should
health they have clearly not been successful in closing the be taken at different levels as it varies from place to place
gap. Also the level of sanitation services is much worse to therefore single measure overall would might not be
be expected at our level of GDP. effective for such a large population.
Therefore, to find measures to eliminate poverty first the References
exact measurement of poverty level is needed. The method
applies in the paper to eliminate poverty is by calculating 1. Angus Deaton, J. D. (2002). Poverty and Inequality in
the no. of poor in three levels, 25%,30% and 35% from India. Economic and political weekly.
the bottom. (The poverty rate between 1993-94 to 1999- 2. Virmani, A. (2006). “Poverty and Hunger in India”.
2000), i.e. identifying the consumption level of the persons