The fruits of economic growth have not benefited everyone uniformly. Some are left behind and some others are not touched by the benefits of economic growth. These some when combined together define poverty. Poverty is the lack of basic human needs like health, education, clean water, nutrition etc. It is a condition in which one’s income is not sufficient enough to fulfill his basic needs. It is curse and something like nobody would want to own. Laster R. Brown in his book ‘World Without Borders’ explains poverty thus; “Unfortunately it is not an economic abstraction, it is a human condition. It is despair, grief and pain. It is the despair of a father with a family of seven children in a poor country when he joins the, swelling ranks of unemployed with no prospects of unemployment compensation. Poverty is the longing of a young boy playing outside a village school but unable to enter because his parents lack a few rupees needed to buy text books. Poverty is the grief of parents watching a three year old child die of a routine childhood disease because they cannot afford any medical care.”
Poverty exists because the economic system is organized in ways that encourage the accumulation of wealth at one end and creates conditions of scarcity that make poverty inevitable at the other. Rich in the society are getting richer; poor are getting poorer. Poverty is both a structural aspect of the system and an ongoing consequence of how the system is organized. In developing countries the poverty stands as the major obstacle in development. The primary reason as a cause of poverty is education. In a country like India one-third of the country’s population is still illiterate and a majority is not educated up to the age of 15 years. Even among the educated, everyone does not have employable skills of the modern economy. The education system is not tuned to the changing economic scenario. The large agriculture workforce in rural areas is not sustainable with dwindling cultivable land and use of modern methods of cultivation. As a result, the rural labour is pushed into cities in search of work but they do not have any employable skills in the urban formal sector, and thus they often end up doing odd jobs in urban areas.
Developing nations around the world are getting financial help from more Industrialized nations. But still poverty is a problem in developing nations. One of the reason is, this money that people receive in the form of aid solves the short term problems like food for a week or month. The long term impact is nil. One should not forget the corruption level in these less developed nations. Most of the money goes to the bank accounts of politicians of that country. For these reasons, financial help alone does not solve poverty problem in developing nations. Government employs many poverty alleviation programs to get rid of this malignance. Involvement of the local communities is the key to the success of poverty alleviation programs. In the absence of community involvement, the programs are plagued with bureaucratic muddle and corruption at every level. At the macro-level, there is a need to co-ordinate a myriad of poverty alleviation programs of the central government and the State governments. The transfer of central funds to the States for different programs should be efficient. Currently, such funds and goods like food grains are not fully utilized by the States. There is a need to strengthen the financial management capacity of certain States to use the funds efficiently.
Social problems are more than an accumulation of individual woes, they can’t be solved through an accumulation of individual solutions. We must include social solutions that take into account how economic and other systems really work. We also have to identify proper steps to curb with this problem. To understand where poverty comes from, what makes it such a stubborn feature of social life, we have to begin with the simple sociological fact that patterns of inequality result as much from how social systems are organized as they do from how individuals participate in them. Poverty is more of social marginalization of an individual, household or group in the community/society rather than inadequacy of income to fulfill the basic needs. Indeed, inadequate income is one of the factors of marginalization, but not the sole factor. The poverty alleviation programmes and other measures to get rid of poverty should not aim merely to increase the income level of individual, household or group, but mainstreaming marginalized in the development process of the country.
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