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Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India

Last Updated : 10 Sep, 2023
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In the mid-19th century and early 20th century, we saw an increase in poverty during the colonial age. The colonial rules moved unwaged artisans into farming and converted the nation into a province gradually rich in land-living, uneducated labor, and low efficiency. Thus, it made the nation scarce in labor, capital, and knowledge.

Poverty Alleviation Relief, or Reduction, is a set of ways, by which governments’ policies can intend to permanently lift people out of the poverty line. As per the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2020, India ranks at 62nd position out of 107 nations with an MPI score of 0.123. Recently a study also revealed that of six multidimensionally poor people, five were from lower tribes or castes, and according to the Global Hunger Index 2021, with a score of 27.5, India ranks 101st out of 116 countries, and according to the data, the level of hunger is serious.

There are some major reasons for poverty in India, less financial support to the lower-income group, overpopulation, fewer job opportunities, discrimination and casteism in society, lack of education, and huge corruption in society.  

India’s most persuasive task is the removal of poverty and for that the Indian government has taken various programs, schemes, policies based on two main objectives: 

  1. Launching anti-poverty programs to address a specific group of people.
  2. Increasing economic growth of the country by providing job opportunities to the lower-income groups.  

Some of the Major Programs Initiated by the Government:

After India got its independence, various initiatives were taken to reduce the poverty in India in 1950 Minhas estimated the poverty rates in India, and in 1960 a working group was formed to set up a poverty line for India and various others following that. For the first time in post-Independence history, poverty was considered a national issue under the Chairmanship of India’s third prime minister Indira Gandhi. To achieve two main objectives, removal of poverty ‘Garibi Hatao‘ and attainment of self-reliance, D.D. Dhar prepared and launched the 5th Five Years Plan through the better distribution of income, promotion of a high growth rate, and significant growth in the rural area.

1. Integrated Rural Development Programme: 

It was started in the year 1980-81 to create self-employment for poor people in rural areas. The main aim of IRDP was to decrease the levels of the families in the below-poverty line category permanently by providing them revenue-generating resources and access to other inputs.

2. Jawahar Rozgar Yojana:

It was launched on April 1st, 1989, by an amalgamation of the National Rural Employment Program (NREP) and Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP) to create employment options and improve the quality of life for the unemployed and under-employed public in rural parts by generating community and social assets and the rural economic infrastructure. The objective of the program was supplementary profitable employment for the unemployed and underemployed people in the rural parts, to create constant employment by strengthening the rural financial structure and assets supporting the poor people in the rural parts for their continuous benefits. In this Yojana, thirty percent of the employment options are held in reserve for females in rural parts. 

3. Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana:

The Jawahar Rozgar Yojana was again reformed as Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana on 1st April 1999. This scheme on 25th September 2001 was further modified to the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana. The objective is to generate demand-driven community village infrastructure that would enable the poor people in the rural parts to increase sustained employment opportunities and durable possessions at the village level. It also includes the creation of additional employment options for the unemployed in the rural parts. Wage employment could be provided to below-poverty-line (BPL) families. 

4. Employment Assurance Scheme:

It was launched on October 2nd, 1993. It covers drought-prone parts, desert parts, tribal parts, and hill region areas. This scheme during the year 1994-95 was implemented across the nation’s 409 blocks and by April 1997 this scheme was extended to cover all the blocks. The primary objective of this scheme was to generate supplementary wage employment options when there is an acute shortage in manual work during lean agricultural seasons for all able adult poor persons of rural areas who are in need of work at that time, and the secondary objective of this scheme is to generate of financial infrastructure and community assets for employment and growth for rural India.

5. Food for Work Programme:

It was launched in the year 1977-78 by providing food grains as a substitute for wages. This was then restructured with changes implemented in 2001 for the most 150 backward districts of the country to create additional employment for the provisions of lives. The objective is to make available supplementary resources apart from the ones available below the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana to the 150 most backward districts of the nation. This program can lead to the creation of additional wage employment opportunities and make available food safety through generating need-based societal, financial, and communal assets in these backward districts.

6. Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana:

It was launched in the year 2001 by merging the Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana and the Employment Assurance scheme by the Ministry of Rural Development. The main aim of the scheme was to provide supplementary wage employment options, provide food safety and improved nutritional stages in all parts, generate durable community social and monetary assets, and infrastructural expansion for the poor in rural areas.

7. Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana:

Earlier referred to as Indira Awaas Yojana, the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana was launched in the year 2015 is created to provide the construction of free houses for the rural poor in India who are below the poverty line. 

The objective is the advancement of affordable housing options through the credit-linked subsidy process, restoration of slum dwellers with the involvement of the private sector using the land-dwelling as a resource, and reasonable housing in association with government and private subsidy.

8. National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP):

It was launched on 15th August 1995 with the objective of secure social security and welfare program to provide support to widows, aged persons, disabled persons, and bereaved those families on the death of the primary breadwinner, belonging to BPL households for the fulfillment of the Article 41 and Article 42 of Directive Principles of State Policy which is mentioned in Part IV of the Constitution of India. It also had three components namely,

A. National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS): It was launched in the year 1995 to provide pensions to the person who is “destitute” having little or no source of income or monetary support. The main aim is to make available social safety for the eligible beneficiaries. In this, senior citizens 60 years or above receive a monthly pension and it a non-contribution person, wherein the beneficiary does not have to contribute any amount to receive the pension.

B. National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS): It was launched in the year 1995 to support with a lumpsum amount to the household below the poverty line who then becomes the head of the family after the death of the main wage earner. It provides a lump sum amount of Rs.10,000/- to the household and it is applicable in the age group of 18-64 years.    

C. National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS): In the National Maternity Benefit Scheme, a financial grant is provided to women belonging to poor families for pre-natal and post-natal care. It is for women aged 19 years and above up to the first two live births. It is a cash-based maternity assistance scheme.

9. Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP):

REGP was started by the Government of India in order to create self-employment opportunities in the small town and rural areas. The Khadi and Village Industries Commission implemented this programme. With this programme, an individual could get financial assistance to set up small industries in the form of bank loans.

10. Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY):

Under this scheme, the educated unemployed people from rural and urban areas who are from low income families were given financial help by the government. With the given financial help, these people can set up any kind of enterprise that generates employment. During the Eight Five Year Plan (1992-97), by setting up 7 lakh micro-enterprises, the Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana made an attempt to generate employment. With the help of this scheme, 3 million people got employment by the year 2003-04.

The government merged the above two schemes; i.e., REGP and PMRY and introduced a new programme known as Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP). This scheme came into effect from 1st April 2008. The two main objectives of this scheme are:

  • Generating employment opportunities in the rural and urban areas by setting up new self-employment ventures.
  • Bringing unemployed youth and the dispersed traditional artisians together and  give them self-employment opportunities at their place.

11. Swarna Jayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY):

The primary objective of SJSRY is to create employment opportunities for both self-employment and wage employment in urban areas. By encouraging people to set up self-employment ventures or through provision of wage employment, the Swarna Jayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojana seeks to provide gainful employment. This scheme is centrally sponsored and is funded between the Centre and the States on 75:25 basis.

12. Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY):

Earlier families and individuals used to get financial assistance through self-employment programmes. However, since the 1990s the government started to provide assistance through SGSY. The basic aim of Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana is to promote micro enterprises and bring the assisted poor families, also known as Swarozgaris above the poverty line. The scheme tries to bring the Swarozgaris above the poverty line by organising them into Self-Help Groups (SHGs).

Through SHGs, people forming them are encouraged to save money lend the same among themselves as a loan. Later on, with the help of banks, the government provides partial financial assistance to these groups. These groups after getting assistance decides who will get the loan for the slf-employment activities.

13. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA):

This act was passed in the parliament, in August 2005. The basic aim of MGNREGA is to enhance the livelihood security of people living in rural areas by guaranteeing them 100 days of wage employment in one financial year. The wage employment is given to the rural household whose adult members volunteer to do the unskilled manual work.

Therefore, every individual (poor) who is willing to work at a minimum wage can report for work in those areas where MGNREGA is implemented. In the year 2019-20, 57.4 million people had sought work under MGNREGA.


The social clusters are most susceptible to poverty, and they are categorized as SC and ST in the economic clusters, the most susceptible are the agricultural labor in rural parts and the casual labor in the urban parts. The challenges lie ahead such as the rural and the urban parts showing vast differences in poverty. 

It is true that poverty has been reduced but not up to the intended level. As a citizen or as a government, still we have to focus on the food chain, clothing, population control, free education at the basic level, empowerment of women and fiscally weaker sections of society, medical facilities, etc. for better results. 

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