Over the past decade India has seen rapid economic growth. The country has also made progress in reducing poverty. India’s minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning Rajiv Shukla says 270 million people are currently living below the poverty line. The minister says that number was 407 million seven years ago. But social activists say the figures are underestimated because the government has not come up with a real poverty calculation until now. Independent estimates suggest that 70 percent of the Indian population is living below poverty line.
In March 2012, New Delhi updated the poverty line cut-off figures which drew heavy criticism from developmental activists. They say such moves by the government are meant to hide the reality. Activists also believe by artificially depressing the number of poor the government is trying to reduce the number of people who enjoy the benefits of the government welfare schemes meant for those who are living below poverty line. Experts say efforts by the Indian government to combat poverty are not operational and the aid programs are beset by rising corruption and poor administration in the country.
In recent months, India’s economy has been on a downturn and the rupee has depreciated a record low against the US dollar. The middle class and the poor have been the worst affected especially those who live on less than 2 dollars a day. Many believe India is falling behind the rising country’s demands and is unable to bring basic services to the poor
Experts say the actual poverty calculation remains a big challenge for the government. They believe the figures are not real and accuse the government of artificially depressing the number of the poor living in the country. India’s population is expected to reach 1.5 billion by 2026 and the country needs to do everything it can to prevent poverty increasing further. (390)