9 Poverty Alleviation Programs in India

To alleviate poverty from the economy, the Indian Government started various policies and programs. In this direction, various poverty alleviation programs have been started by the government. The basic motive of these programs is to eliminate poverty by generating employment opportunities for the people. Some of the important Poverty Alleviation Programs initiated by the Government of India are discussed below.

Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India

Poverty Alleviation Programs in India #1

Swaranjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY)

This program was launched in rural areas in April 1999. This program emphasized the establishment of a number of small-scale and micro-enterprises in rural areas on an individual and collective basis. Such enterprises are commonly known as Self Help Groups (SHGs). Under the yojana, grants were forwarded in the form of loans and subsidies to the poor. It also aims at providing training, credit, and technical facilities to the Self-Help Groups.

The amount of loan to be granted was fixed at 30 % of the cost of the project for an individual and 50 % of the cost of the project for the SHGs. The progress of the project is monitored by the banks associated with this scheme.

The expenditure on this scheme is to be shared by the Central Government and the State Government in the ratio of 75:25. Under this scheme, approximately, 27 lakh SHGs have been formed till December 2007, and around 93 lakh swarozgaries have been assisted.

Poverty Alleviation Programs in India #2

Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY)

This program was launched on September 01, 2001. The main objective of this yojana was to provide employment opportunities to the workers with a view of regional, economic and social development.

Under this program, various infrastructural projects such as the construction of roads, wells, tanks, embankments, etc. were undertaken. This particular yojana targets to generate employment for 100 crore man-days of labor. The expenditure on this scheme is to be shared by the Central Government and the State Government in the ratio of 87.5:12.5. Later in 2006, this program was merged with National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA).

Poverty Alleviation Programs in India #3

National Food for Work Programme (NFWP)

This program was started in 2000-01 with the objective of generating ample employment opportunities for unskilled laborers concentrated in the drought-affected states of Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, M.P, Orissa, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Uttaranchal.

This program provides food in exchange for the work done by the laborers. This program was aimed to protect poor people against a reduction in their purchasing power capacity in the natural calamities-prone areas. The work done by the laborers includes watershed development works, water harvesting, and construction of metal roads connecting rural and urban areas.

This program not only provides laborers with food but also creates semi-durable assets that facilitate the economic and social development of the backward areas.

Poverty Alleviation Programs in India #4

Swaran Jayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY)

This yojana was launched in December 1997 by merging two yojanas, namely, Nehru Rozgar Yojana (NRY) and Prime Minister’s Integrated Urban Poverty Eradication Programme (PMIUPEP). The objective of this yojana was to provide self-employment and wage employment to the urban unemployed or under-employed people. The two important features of this program are as follows.

  • Urban Self-Employment Programme (USEP): This program is aimed at providing assistance to the underemployed and unemployed urban poor for setting up self-employment enterprises/workshops such as petty businesses, manufacturing, etc. This encouraged local skills and local crafts.
  • Urban Wage Employment Programme (UWEP): This program was launched with the motive of providing assistance to poor urban women for setting up self-employment enterprises/workshops.

Poverty Alleviation Programs in India #5

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) 

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was enacted in the year 2005. It aimed at enhancing the livelihood of the rural people by guaranteeing the adult members (who are willing to work) of each rural family one hundred days of wage employment every year. This act was implemented in all the states of India except Jammu and Kashmir.

This act provided a minimum per day wage of Rs 120 (in 2009 prices). NREGA facilitated rural development by emphasizing the dual objective of achieving development by developing rural infrastructure and simultaneously providing employment opportunities to rural unskilled labor. The act aimed at the creation of infrastructure such as water conservation, canal irrigation facilities, afforestation, flood control, embankments, etc. Thus, it served the dual objective of infrastructure development and providing employment opportunities.

Poverty Alleviation Programs in India #6

Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana 

Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) is aimed at providing employment to the educated unemployed. The scheme was expected to provide employment to more than one million educated youth by setting up 7 lakh micro-enterprises. By 2003-04 approximately 30 lakh persons got employment under this scheme.

Poverty Alleviation Programs in India #7

Pradhan Mantri Gramoday Yojana (PMGY)

To improve the standard of living and quality of life in rural areas, PMGY was launched in the year 2001. This program includes five crucial areas – health, primary education, drinking water, housing, and roads. PMGY comprises the following three projects.

  • Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana which aimed at building all-weather roads by 2007 in all villages having a population of 500 persons or more.
  • Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana and,
  • Pradhan Mantri Gramin Drinking Water Yojana.

Poverty Alleviation Programs in India #8

Minimum Needs Programme

This program was launched during the fifth five-year plan with the aim of raising the standard of living of the poor. It lays emphasis on primary education, adult education, rural health, rural water supply, rural roads, rural electrification, rural housing, and improvements of the urban slums. This program was expected to raise the overall quality of life of the poorer sections of society.

Poverty Alleviation Programs in India #9

Twenty-Point Programme

A twenty-point Programme was launched by the government on 14th January 1982, that includes (1) Increase in irrigation capacity (2) Increased production of pulses and oilseeds (3) Extension of Integrated Rural Development Programme and National Rural Employment Programme (4) Fixation of ceiling on landholdings (5) Minimum wages to agricultural workers (6) Rehabilitation of bonded labor (7) Expansion of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes programs (8) Drinking water in villages (9) Provision of houses in rural areas (10) Improvement of slum areas (11) Development of power capacity (12) Development of forests and gobar gas (13) Family planning (14) Setting up of primary health care centers (15) Welfare program for women and children (16) Primary education for children between 6-14 years (17) Expansion of Public distribution system and fair price shops (18) Simple industrial policy (19) Checking of generation of black money (20) Efficient management of public sector industrial units.

Critical Appraisal of Poverty Alleviation Programs in India

The absolute decline in the percentage of the population below the poverty line and increase in wages that helped in increasing the nutritional level of the poor is the commendable achievements of PAPs. However, despite these achievements, the PAPs can be regarded as unaccomplished due to the below-mentioned reasons.

Improper planning and management: The poverty alleviation programs require a comprehensive and complex management system. In the absence of proper planning and accountability, the administration and staff could not work efficiently. Insufficient manpower made the follow-up of plans difficult.

More inclined towards rich: These PAPs were often influenced by the rich and elite people to suit their own motive at the cost of the needy poor population.

Difficulty of reach: The benefits of PAPs did not reach the population living in the far-flung and remote areas. That is, the programs were not accessible by the people in these areas. As a result, the overall impact of PAPs remained diluted.

Lack of support: PAPs did not receive full support from the institutions such as banks, panchayats, etc. Such institutions failed to provide facilities such as marketing and credit to the needful.

Lack of Participation of people: These programs lacked the participation of the local people as these were largely government-sponsored programs.

Undue advantage by non-poor: The non-poor section of the population took undue advantage of these programs due to the absence of any specific definition of the ‘poor’.

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